As a young reader, I loved books with animals. One reason is that I loved animals and would have loved to live a life surrounded by different speciesAs a young reader, I loved books with animals. One reason is that I loved animals and would have loved to live a life surrounded by different species of animals. Another reason is that such books gave me the opportunity to explore different worlds. The Mysterious Abductions is reminiscent of some of my favorite childhood reads. I enjoyed my stay in this world.
WHAT I LIKED
Characters with Personality The Mysterious Abductions is filled with characters with personality. Each character has a distinct personality that makes them memorable. Consequently, though many different characters are introduced, it's fairly easy to remember who is who based on their personality. (The downside is that we only get to know the characters on a superficial level.)
Creative Imagining of Animal Lives Tracey Hecht provides a creative imagining of animal lives in The Mysterious Abductions. I enjoyed following the adventures of nocturnal animals and their interactions with each other in this novel.
Blurs the Lines Between Good and Evil When the lines between good and evil are blurred, the author opens the way to look into different perspectives and examine the reasons for characters' actions. This provides children an opportunity to learning how to be empathetic and consider why someone might act or talk in a way that seems inappropriate to us.
Plot Twist As the Brigade investigated the abductions, I found myself wondering why the animals were being abducted. The end result was something that I was not expecting at all. I would love to share more about this experience, but that would be a major spoiler. Read the book to find out!
Chapter Images (in Color!) At the beginning of each chapter, there is a colored image of one or more of the characters. Since there were some animals that were unfamiliar to me, these images were helpful to my understanding of the novel. These pictures, and the story itself, can be used to jumpstart a look into the lives and nature of the animals' real-life counterparts.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE (AS MUCH)
Superficial Characters While the characters all have distinct personalities, they stay stuck within their personalities; there isn't much depth to their characters. I understand that this is a book for younger readers and that, with three main characters, it can be difficult to balance out their roles.
Given that Tobin seems to be given a more focus, I still feel like more could have been done to develop his character and, subsequently, the other characters through him so that they could be given more depth.
Bismark's Over-the-Top Personality Bismark was by far my least favorite character given his over-the-top personality and egoistic tendencies. I hesitate to say that all of this is because he's just Bismark and wish that he shows more development in future books.
I'm sure young readers will enjoy his antics, but as he is, I wouldn't use him as a role model for children. If I were reading this with a child, I would use his character as a jumping point for conversations on topics such as friendship, how we should treat others, and how we might act differently in relationships.
Where is the mystery? The Brigade goes around asking questions and following the trail of abductions. However, we don't see as much brainstorming over possibilities or even a red herring. I've read children's books with more mystery to the mystery. Given the interesting nature of the disappearances (screams but little to no clues at the scene of the crime), I would have enjoyed seeing more detective work going on.
Thick Pages This is a more personal comfort point: The book pages are much thicker than normal pages (and uneven at the ends). This caused discomfort as I would constantly question whether I had not turned two pages instead of one. I would have preferred thinner pages and possibly a larger book size so that it has more of a young readers' feel to it.
While The Mysterious Abductions does have its moments of humor, it also provides a learning opportunity for children through its themes of friendship and unity. The animals may be from different species and walks of life, but they are able to unite through a shared cause and desire to live in harmony.
One of the reasons I love children's books is that they tend to blur the lines of good and evil in a way that gives hope to the world (as compared to strictly adult books, which tend to portray the world in a hopeless light). While someone may seem like a bad guy right now, it doesn't mean that they were always bad or are beyond saving. The Mysterious Abductions does just that.
Overall, this is an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series!
Everything I Liked from the First Book Asian MC, Japanese mythology & culture, good family dynamics (minus the entrance of the mother f WHAT I LIKED
Everything I Liked from the First Book Asian MC, Japanese mythology & culture, good family dynamics (minus the entrance of the mother figure), beautiful artwork . . . Momotaro #2 remains true to the elements that I enjoyed from book one. For more details, click here to read my review of Momotaro #1.
Character Growth Xander is still a pubescent teen dealing with tween issues, and now he's one with special powers. He's quite the handful. That said, this provides much room for character growth, and Xander does just that. Young readers can relate to Xander's problems and learn how to work through issues.
Follows Events of the First Novel I love how Xander of the Dream Thief follows through with events of the first novel. For example, the primary conflict in the novel is spurred by the after-effects of Xander's last adventure. Also affected are his relationships with friends, classmates, and family. (I'd talk more about these details, but that would go into spoilers!)
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE (AS MUCH)
Adults are Absent or in Need of Saving (Once More!) In my review of the last book, I explained how it's unrealistic that children would be the ones saving the day without help from any adults. This still holds true. However, I do appreciate how Xander is able to work through his issues and mature as a character. Sometimes, we do need to learn the hard way outside of parental guidance. And I appreciate his parents' love and understanding through it all.
Quick, Not Well Developed Resolution Some of the issues are wrapped up too quickly. In particular, there is one big issue that was introduced at the end of the last book and which proves a problem at the beginning of this book. I was expecting to see more development on this issue; however, it was resolved at the end without us seeing Xander work through it. I wish that more attention had been paid to this issue.
Overall, Xander and the Dream Thief is an enjoyable followup to the first novel. As long-time readers know, I always appreciate a novel with good family relationships and Asian characters. I especially love how this novel isn't another episodic adventure in Xander's life but incorporates elements from Momotaro #1. I'm looking forward to seeing where Margaret Dilloway takes us next!...more
Ninth City Burning is an imaginative, complex debut from J. Patrick Black. Few books have brought a world and its inhabitants to life as Ninth City BuNinth City Burning is an imaginative, complex debut from J. Patrick Black. Few books have brought a world and its inhabitants to life as Ninth City Burning has for me. This novel has many elements that I enjoy in a good book, least of which is an interesting plot with aliens, war, and unlikely heroes. While the novel may seem verbose and slow to build, I love how Black takes his time to develop the complexities of the world and its inhabitants. This is a novel that you need to read to appreciate the complexity of the world and story. I definitely recommend getting this one if you enjoy a good sci-fi fantasy with good world building and well-developed characters.
THINGS I LOVE - Detailed World Building - Complex Characters - "Archaic" References
THINGS I DIDN'T LOVE AS MUCH - Extremely Verbose - Multiple POVs in the First Person