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Showing 1-10 of 113 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 259 reviews
I loved this book. I wish it had been around when I was a kid. Yes, it is reminiscent of other great children's classics (to me those include Narnia, The Hobbit, the Oz adventures) but I enjoyed all of those and I enjoyed "The Emerald Atlas."

I thought the three siblings - Kate, Michael and Emma - were done well and acted like real siblings do, squabbling all the time with each other but ready to defend each other to the death against others.

The secondary characters were especially well done. I didn't like all of them but I could sure visualize them and hear their voices in my head. Hmmm...voices in my head - maybe I should be worried. I especially liked Dr. Pym, Gabriel, and the dwarves were great.

There was plenty of action, scary monsters (might make this a little intense for readers under the age of 8 years old), scary people, adventure, magic, bravery, daring rescues.

The book is well made with a beautifully illustrated dust cover. Quality paper with beveled edges for the book itself. Small black ink pictures at the beginning of each chapter. It is a book I will be keeping for my library (and future grandchildren) and I'm looking forward to the next books in the adventure.
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on April 11, 2013
I was browsing for books at a local library when I picked this up to read. I started it that evening and could NOT put it down! I had to get it for my kindle.
The prologue was mysterious and chilling, the children's characters instantly likeable, and the whole story suspenseful. For his first attempt, John Stevens did a phenomenal job. His writing style is perfectly balanced and he thought through his plot and its mechanics very well. I'm not sure what the age recommendation is on this doesn't really need one. I'm 18, but I stil check the children's section for decent (if sometimes light) reading. This was much better than the stuff they publish as YA literature.
The best way I can describe The Emerald Atlas is to compare it to the Narnia series and The Lord of the Rings - but not that Stevens is merely rehashing what has been done before...Atlas is completely original, while having the same elements that make Narnia and LOTR so popular. If you are a fan of good fantasy books, Atlas is perfect for you. Atlas is full of humor, donuts, adventure, time travel, friendship, and horror (although not too much, just enough to give you chills every once in a while).
The beginning may start a little slowly for some readers, but once you are past the first five chapters - and arrive at Prof. Pym's "orphanage" - you are comepletely with the story. By the time Gabriel enters, you can't put the book down, not that you would want to. By the end, you have no idea what will happen, and the last chapter is probably the best of all...
Hurray for Kate, Michael, and Emma! Hurray for Professor Pym and the dwarves! And, of course, hurray for donuts!
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on March 27, 2014
Edit #2:
Bumping it up to the full 5 stars, because my kid is now counting down the days until The Black Reckoning is released. (and I'm looking forward to reading it, too. Ha!)

Here's how my 10 year old kid put it, which is kind of perfect:

"The main characters don't actually DO anything. Everything just sort of happens TO them."

I understand that this is children's literature, and I wouldn't give it only 2 stars if my own kid hadn't rendered the judgment and articulated the main problem himself (he's almost at the end, but only reading about 10 pages a night...with better books he reads about 100 pages a day).

It's action-packed, for sure, but hollow. It's only mildly endearing and slightly entertaining.

It definitely ain't no new Narnia or LOTR.
Not even close.


Edit: Adding another couple of stars because my kid wants Fire Chronicle over all other potential toys/presents. He wants the Fire Chronicle more than he wants LED lights for his bike tires, etc.

Maybe you have to be a kid to get this book series.

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on August 28, 2014
This review is for the Kindle edition ebook.

Three children, ten years, too many ophanages to count. What wonders will they discover? Why did their parents abandon them? Will they ever see mom and dad again?

This book is written in a manner that young readers will understand. The language and words will be easily understood. The story has enough twists and turns to hold the readers attention andkeep them reading. There were times when the story seemed to wander, as Kate thought about things.

John Stephens always wanted to write books for children. In this book, he has succeeded. He has not only written abook for children, but he has written a book that could become a childrens classic.

I can easily recommend this book to children and teens. It may be the book that gets them hooked on reading. I will be reading more of this authors books.
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on August 2, 2011
I wanted to read The Emerald Atlas before I started to hear all the buzz about it, the buzz only moved it closer to the top of my list. Though the comparison to Harry Potter made by some reviewers is a little ostentatious, I found this to be a fabulous fantasy book for Middle Grade on up.

While some young readers may be turned off by the filler after the prologue that establishes the characters and serves as plot exposition, if they know where this is headed, they will hang in there. I was reminded a little of C.S. Lewis, but I found John Stephens writing style far more approachable and inviting. The world he's created is original and fascinating. It includes dwarves, elves, witches, wizards and a few creations of his own, like Screechers, which are deliciously scary. It combines a lot of my favorite themes magic and prophesies -and perhaps the best damned explanation of time travel I've ever read.

John Stephens' characters, though slightly archetypal in nature, are warm and interesting. It is obvious the children are strongly bonded and self-reliant. It's heart breaking that Kate, the oldest sister, has become a mother figure to her siblings. You can just feel the girls' frustration with their dwarf obsessed brother, Michael, and the stress caused by Emma's thirst to prove, to herself and everyone else, that she can take care of herself, even if she is the youngest. Though there may occasionally be some dissention in the ranks they marshal around her and keep close. They may not have had an easy life, being bounced from orphanage to orphanage, but it seems to have prepared them for what lies ahead. I love the way these characters are written.

It is obvious that Mr. Stephens writes for television; his story plays out in scenes and the reader often doesn't get to connect deeply with the character, especially when points of view shift. However, connections are forged anyway because the characters are so strong -you know them. As the series progresses, it would be wonderful to see him develop a relationship with his characters.

John Stephens' The Emerald Atlas doesn't disappoint. Though sufficient closure was reached, there are still many questions left unanswered and I can't wait to read the rest of this series to find out more. I bought and read this as an e-book and have already ordered my hard cover copy because this one is a definite keeper.
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VINE VOICEon November 26, 2012
The Emerald Atlas is very well written and has a very pleasing mixture of action and self-reflection by the characters. Now the main characters range from pre-school to barely-teen in the first book, but the internal lives of children is very rich, very imaginative, and even more immediate than most adults so this does not at all hamper the enjoyment for adults reading this book and the next one.

Much like the Harry Potter books, life is far from fair for the main characters. And they are asked to assume way more responsibility than they should. And they are thrust into the designs of very powerful and driven adults. But it is not a Harry Potter rehash at all. The Atlas borrows a lot of characters from classic fantasy fare but adds some humorous twists to them. There are also some interesting ideas about the magical and non-magical worlds that get continued to be fleshed out in the second book.

Also something that you can look forward to if you pick this book up is that the main antagonist the Dire Magus is really developed in the second book, or rather his back-story is. You begin to feel for him. The only quibble I have is with the age range of 8. Even a precocious reader might have a hard time with the themes at that age. I would say 11 or 12 and up and adults can fully and richly enjoy this series as well.
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on December 27, 2012
Many years ago, I became interested in fantasy literature after reading the Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy. Didn't have much luck finding anything else that caught my attention until Harry Potter, then the market became flooded with fantasy books of this kind (I know, nothing like Dragonlance). This book was a great read and should be a hit with kids of all ages as well as adults with an interest in fantasy for youths. This book falls into a category that I call Urban Fantasy which pulls together real people as well as the world and environment as we know it and live in it today and combines it with the fantasy world including dwarfs, magic, and mystical creatures. I have found with my kids that fantasy realms with fantasy beings are sometimes difficult for them to relate to and enjoy. Urban fantasy gives them a place to bring it together. This is a great book in the Urban Fantasy genre which has little to offer for youths. Hopefully this will create a new trend. It was easy to read and flowed rapidly from event to event until the mysteries which bring the children to their new "orphanage" unfold. I highly recommend giving it a try.
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on May 23, 2011
Is it courage or just boldness? Who dares to write another book about magic, dwarves, witches, wizards and the battle between good and evil after Tolkien and Rowling? And add some timetravelling ignoring Pratchett's irony on the subject? Well, Stephens did, and succeeded! And how!!!
Which readers is this book intended for? I wouldn't know. Children? The language is very sophisticated in many instances, too intellectual perhaps? Young adults? Which young adults are interested in the adventures of some orphaned children? Adults? Which adults in their right minds want to be caught reading about magical children haunted by a lovely witch and searching for three books, hidden for ages? But who cares? It is a fascinating book, and, possibly like in the Potter series, all ages find something to their fancy. It lacks the dark British gloom of the Potter story and I miss the light also British irony of Pratchett, but the reader gets a lot in return.
Stephens got language, and knows how to use it, both in description and narrative, and is a master of suspense. I lost many hours of sleep wanting to know what would happen next.
One of the three magic books the story is about, is rescued in this book. Two more to go. Hopefully a promise for two more, or even still more volumes about Kate, Michael and Emma? After all, their parents also have to be found, and Kate is nearly 15, an interesting age.
I can't wait.
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on June 8, 2011
Kate, Michael, and Emma are three siblings whose parents disappeared a long time ago, leading them to move from orphanage to orphanage for many years. One day though they are driven to a totally new kind of orphanage, in a sad and unusual location, and this is where the adventure begins. They discover a book which they can use to move through time, and in the process they find themselves involved in a story they wish they had nothing to do with. But their fate is nothing less than to save the world, and like any good heroes, they embrace it. They meet dwarves and monsters in the process, make friends and enemies, and discover what happened to their parents. The Emerald Atlas is a young adult fantasy book. John Stephens writes well and the reading is therefore smooth and enjoyable. The story is not very innovative; in fact, at times you find yourself thinking, `I've read this before.' But it works. I especially liked his characterisation, in particular young Emma, who is feisty but adorable, and her brother Michael, who is fascinated by dwarves. Kate's character lacks a little depth but is okay. The villains are not bad either. The only real flaw in the book for me is that its plot is partly based on time travel, and like many other time-travel based stories, books and movies alike, it presents difficulties. A book that makes you think is a good book, but you shouldn't have to stop and ponder about what you've read for too long to understand it. This is unfortunately too often the case for time travel. This book is no different. I read it, but I'd find it hard to explain in detail what happened at which time and how it has affected the past, the present and the future. And the proof is that towards the end of the story, one of the children (who, I should add, spend the book moving through time!) feels the need to ask Dr Pym (a wizard and some kind of mentor) what really happened as far as time and time-linked changes are concerned... It says it all. To finish on this topic, I also find that time travel is an easy device to pull heroes out of trouble. For example, they are going to die, there are hundreds of monsters pursuing them, they are under water with no air etc (you get my gist) but with a change somewhere in the past, poof!, they escape the inevitable and are sound and safe. In spite of this small flaw, The Emerald Atlas is a very pleasant read. It is the first installment in a trilogy called The Books of Beginning.
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on December 25, 2013
I nearly didn't get past the opening chapters, which seemed a mish-mash of cliches from young fantasy. Young children torn from their parents on a snowy night, draughty old orphanages with uncaring officials, grizzled walk-on characters who give dire warnings of where the children are heading.
But it was worth persevering as it heads into a fast-moving time-travelling tale infused with humour.
I still wonder what would have happened if the modern-day orphanage had received a visit from the state Social Services inspectors as the solitary supervisor was shipping three children to an institution with two members of staff and no children. Official inquiry, staff reprimands, building closed for health and safety violations. Story over in three chapters.
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