- File Size: 1022 KB
- Print Length: 307 pages
- Publisher: Rugby Press (September 12, 2011)
- Publication Date: September 12, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005MLJMTM
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,541,524 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
School of the Ages: Level Three's Dream (School of the Ages Series Book 2) Kindle Edition
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Top customer reviews
It's longer than the previous one, and longer is not necessarily better. In fact, it reached the point where I felt less would have been more. Every part of it is well done, but some parts go on longer than I felt they needed to. The quotations from Lewis Carroll at the beginnings of most of the chapters didn't add as much as they might have, either. I kept looking for parallels between them and what happened in the chapter they headed, and there were some, but they were tenuous.
The author has a rare gift, though: an ear for language. Not only are the different dialects of the characters well done, but even the Lewis-Carroll-style poetry is well done, and that is hard to do. There was one poem that didn't quite work metrically, but the others (as far as I could tell, since I didn't know the originals of a couple of the songs that were parodied) were spot on.
There's an obvious affection for Carroll's work, and a large section of the book is set in a version of his imagined world. That was the part I felt went on too long. I like Carroll as much as the next person, and this is a well-done homage, but there didn't need to be so much of it. Nor, I thought, did there need to be such a large group of characters visiting that world, who were then split into four smaller groups to have fairly similar adventures.
Apart from that, I have only one quibble, which is disproportionately important to me because I'm a New Zealander. In a passing mention, the characters visit Australia in the past, and encounter moas, a bird native to New Zealand. New Zealand is not Australia, and is separated from Australia by hundreds of miles of ocean. It really annoys us when Americans don't know this.
Anyway, the relationships between the characters, and their knowledge of their world and their abilities, advance; seeds are sown for book three; and in general a fine book is had by all. Next volume already purchased.
As a reader, I love crisp and clean dialogue (it's one of the fundamentals of a good story for me). This was something that featured throughout Level Three's Dream (all of the dialogue reflected the personalities of each character, so that none of them were cliched or "tired one-dimensional flat cardboard characters").
I found the multicultural cast to be engaging and refreshing (in terms of individuality / expression / action / motivation), and certain serious themes were handled in an insightful way (without ever getting too long-winded, draggy, or heavy). These themes include friendship, love, death, and the family (to name a few). Simon's internal struggle with his feelings over Leah's death were some of the best portions of the text (for me), and how these feelings were presented naturally and sensitively/compassionately from the POV of a fourteen-year-old boy.
Sexuality is also handled realistically (in a way that isn't lewd or explicit) -- I think this is also something that is so important (I for one am very tired of the same old hypersexualized scenes in the mainstream mass media). This also adds an element of depth and realism to Simon and the story on the whole. I particularly enjoyed the scene where he "loses his innocence" -- while the scene was in no way graphic, it made me reflect on my own experiences [and how it must be like to feel; in my case, I don't recall any exact moment/s where I felt I had lost my childhood innocence (hmm!)...but still, it made me think about the shame/guilt involved, and how different I might feel before and after the event, were I in a similar situation as the character relating it]. Sex and sexuality are a part of human life; just because it's not thought or talked about doesn't mean it can be conveniently swept under the rug. This is precisely why I always enjoy work that doesn't commoditize and/or trivialize sex + love + relationships.
The magic in the School of the Ages series is also unique in the sense it's more cerebral than orthodoxically fantastical. The characters in this series don't rely on an array of magic wands, potions, and flying broomsticks -- not that there's anything wrong with those elements per se, but presenting magic in this form adds a new dimension to the concept of magic itself (and makes it all the more believable where we question the real world we're in, and what's real and what isn't).
There are some chapters just before the end that closely reflect the bizarre and wonderfully strange/illogical world of "Alice in Wonderland" -- I greatly enjoyed these chapters (and the poetry -- while some were slightly lengthy, they were well-written and incredibly fun! There's a play on a classic Nirvana song too *hint hint*). I felt these chapters balanced out the earlier chapters, some of which contain select passages from Lewis Caroll's "Alice in Wonderland," which contribute to the "puzzles" feel and structure of the story.
One final note about the pencil drawings included throughout the text of the various different characters. I thought this was a little unusual at first, but I think it kind of gave a personal and realistic touch to the story (visually).
A lot of hyped products today are based on "sensationalism" (because of the actual lack of meaning in the actual product?) -- Matt Posner's writing is very different and unique in that aspect. This is not to say that Mr. Posner's writing is boring or lackluster -- it means that Matt Posner handles universal themes within the context of a tale that's imaginative, yet grounded in reality. I think this is one of the strongest aspects of his writing(s), and something he should be lauded for being dedicated to with his work that's accessible to a wider audience, which includes younger readers.
Perhaps it is partly due to this trend of "sensationalism" that a lot of teen books today have a shallow appeal, so it's nice to see one that talks about serious themes in a thoughtful way that can make a difference for readers in the long term (i.e. compare this with the lusty paranormal romances packaged to tweens/teens as "fate" and "true love" -- which contributes more value to society?).
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