Cover Love: Not sure. I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. I worry it would turn middle school readers off because it looks too young.
Why I Wanted to Read This:
The week before this was coming out Macmillan Kids put quotes from the book on their Instagram account (if you aren't following them you should be). It really whet my appetite for reading it. Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.
Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.
Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.
Romance?: No, but Alistair certainly feels something for Fiona.
This is a fantastically written book. It moves so fast and quickly catches the reader. There is magic and emotion and it is vividly written. Whether it's the time (early 90's) or Fiona's world in Aquavania you feel like you are there. I read way too late every time I picked it up.
Here's why I didn't give this book five stars, or even four. There just wasn't enough resolution for me. I felt like this was a book that should give the reader more of a tying up, but it just wasn't. However, I think this is something that appeals to many readers. The fact that they can draw their own conclusions and can turn it over and over in their head. It's a brave choice by the author. He definitely doesn't write down to his audience.
It's hard to think that all Fiona tells Alistair isn't true, it's so magical and the world looks like so much fun!
A lot of reviews I read have a hard time deciding whether this is a flat out middle grade book (as it is being marketed) or more of a young adult book (because of some older ideas). I think it is just fine for middle graders and I know several readers who will eat this up and will love that they can discuss things with me.
I truly adored Alistair. He is one of those kids who is not the most popular, and doesn't even have a lot of friends, but he is well liked. He's quiet and good-hearted. He's also willing to step outside of his comfort zone when his curiosity gets the best of him or he needs to help someone he cares about.
All of the characters are so well written. Fiona, Charlie, even Kyle. So well done! This author doesn't mince words, but brings to these people to life. I looked forward to visiting them every night when I picked up the book.
To Sum Up: Well written, lots to discuss. It will be a big book for middle graders for sure!
eGalley requested and received from Macmillan through NetGalley. Thanks!