- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Lexile Measure: 890 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 544 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1481426370
- ISBN-13: 978-1481426374
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,061,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Many Lives of John Stone Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—British teen Stella "Spark" Park's chance meeting with her brother's benefactor, John Stone, proves life-altering for both the enigmatic philanthropist and Spark. Taking a job at Stone's estate organizing his archives, Spark alternately befriends and avoids Stowney House's two extremely old-fashioned inhabitants: motherly Martha and ornery Jacob. Despite Spark's crucial role in this tale, the focus is on the titular John Stone, or Jean-Pierre, as he was known when he attended Louis XIV in Versailles. Via journal entries, readers (and ultimately Spark) learn that Stone is over three centuries old: a "sempervivens." Not immortal or vampiric, his secret race is gifted with longevity. In a bittersweet twist, Spark's own secret makes her the now-ailing Stone's reason for living. Conjuring prose; a steady, engrossing pace; believable conflict relating to both families' complexities; and the dangers technology poses to an individual's privacy make this an engrossing title for teens. While there's romance, it is refreshingly overshadowed by the love among family. Rich in historical detail and subtly supernatural yet ultimately relatable, this affecting, intelligent tale addresses themes of forging one's own identity, finding one's niche, and discovering what it means to truly live. VERDICT A must-purchase for libraries with discerning teen readers preferring substance to silliness.—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ
"I loved this book. The world it conjures up is so vividly imagined, and John Stone, the mysterious man at its heart, so fascinating and compelling. It’s a licence to imagine, and an invitation to consider deeply what we mean by ‘lifetime.’ Original, thought-provoking and moving, it’s a classic in the mould of LOST HORIZON.” (M.L. Stedman, author of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS)
"Buckley-Archer paints an absorbing portrait of the court of Versailles...Good historical fiction with a paranormal twist." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Delicately balancing history, estrangement, reconciliation, and hope, the story powerfully depicts the fierce, abiding love of family: natural, adopted, and found." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
*"Exceptionally well-orchestrated and a simply magnificent story." (Booklist, starred review)
*"Passion, intrigue and uncertain loyalties span the centuries in this slow-burning pageturner that's breathtaking in scope and thought-provoking to the end." (Shelf Awareness, starred review)
"Rich in historical detail and subtly supernatural yet ultimately relatable, this affecting, intelligent tale addresses themes of forging one’s own identity, finding one’s niche, and discovering what it means to truly live." (School Library Journal)
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Top customer reviews
He is Monsieur Broody – that’s how exhausting his recollection of his ‘lives’ have been (another way the title is misleading, along with the cover!). He hires Stella as an intern to organize his archives, but actually wants her to be their Friend, a confidant, based on the fact that he suspects she is his dead wife’s daughter. And while he is on a deadline, he takes his own sweet time to letting her know of her heritage, rather than, I don’t know – letting her de-crypt the archives and find out herself. No, she gets that at the end of the book, in the form of the notebooks which we read throughout the book. So while there could have been more interesting stories as to his ‘family’ pasts so that she can understand them better, he regales her with a long saga of his first love and time at the glorious court of Henry XIV.
And what was more frustrating was the slow pace of the book – I was constantly looking at the progress bar to see when it will end. There wasn’t much in way of conflict, and the thing about the assassin was never resolved. Why exactly did the assassin strike? I thought there would be contemporary repercussions to it, but nada. The only conflict was a stubborn man’s pride and unwillingness to depend on those close to him, but miraculously that is all resolved in a matter of sentences at the end of the book. Basically, this was exhausting for me to read.
With a very slow start and a writing style truly unique in voice, it took me a bit to get into it but once there, it wasn't hard to read on and want to know the rest of the story.
Sadly this was not a time travel story but rather you traveled back in time through the entries of a diary, and while somewhat disappointed at that, I did enjoy the diary entries.
It was fascinating to learn about court life in France and the history buff in me couldn't help but gravitate towards those entries more than anything else. Especially as the story unfolded and we really got to know who John Stone is.
While sometimes wordy in description, the story did have a unique take on the overall plot of the story and in the end, I did end up enjoying this more than I initially thought I would.
*An ARC Copy of this was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
REVIEW BY: Arianna, age 12 years, 10 months
MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:
This book was fascinating!
My favorite character is Spark because she is brave, intelligent, and kind. My favorite parts are when I read John Stone's notebook because it is a great and vivid description of the time of the Sun King's ruling.