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The Riverman

(The Riverman Trilogy #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,541 ratings  ·  526 reviews
"To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here's mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger."

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other Wo
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Barbara I think you need to read the trilogy to understand what happened.

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  2,541 ratings  ·  526 reviews

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Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
this book is a coming-of-age story with a fantasy twist. its central character is alastair, a boy who is good at keeping secrets. it is also about his "best friend" charlie, a video-game obsessed pain in the ass, and fiona loomis, a girl who has been to another world.

alstair is more or less a loner. he hangs out with charlie, but it is more out of convenience and habit than anything else. fiona is a girl he used to play with when they were little, but as they got older, their lives diverged.

Wendy Darling
Loooved this. Reminded me of elements I love from Edward Eager, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Roald Dahl,and Philip Pullman--and I do not make any of those references lightly. Whimsical and humorous (view spoiler), yet weird and dark and slightly twisted at the same time, with unusual characters and a surprisingly complex, engrossing plot. The writing is sure-footed and subtle, and the story quite masterfully plotted, even if it gets a little confusing towards t ...more
When a book has worked its way into your cranium and is making a home for itself within the darker recesses of your very soul, the natural inclination is to talk to somebody about it. And when that book was ostensibly written for kids, all the more reason. That’s the problem with my job as a children’s librarian. Sometimes I’m the only person I know who has read one book or another and I have to wait patiently in the interim. Usually this isn’t a problem, but once in a while a novel like The Riv ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it liked it

3.5 stars, rounded down.


I think this book has left me speechless.

It's a mind**** for 12-year-olds which messes just as hard with adult heads. And I do feel messed with, in a dark and creepy way, and yet I'm completely awestruck by how the author did it.

(And despite the middle-grade categorization of this story, I personally would not give this book to anyone under high school age, because some of the events and implications are very frightening and ugly, both in a fantasy way and in a re
Stuti Rai
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the whole stupid way we are
No one's all right anymore. It's so unfair. It's so stupid and so unfair.

Well, whaddaya know? That's precisely what I was muttering after I finished The Riverman.

Now this here, we have a story of memories, twisted memories, ones not remembered the right way, secret memories, the ones you did remember the right way and yada yada.

Not all memories rot away.

The main players are Alistair Sinclair, Fiona Loomis and Charlie Whatever. There'll be dangerous men, teenagers with a penchant for destruction,
Chelsea Couillard-Smith
This is an undeniably thought-provoking book, but I'm not as bowled over by it as so many other reviewers have been. It tries to walk a challenging line between children's and teen, and I'm not sure it manages to find its audience.

I am impressed with the themes of stories, truth and lies, friendship and loyalty, and secrets, and I think Starmer is skilled at teasing out the complexity and darker questions that lie behind these topics. At the same time, I struggled with the momentum and pacing,
Brandy Painter
If Hokey Pokey and Far Far Away had a book baby, it would be The Riverman by Aaron Starmer. With one big exception, I actually liked the characters in The Riverman, which means I was invested. In the end I was torn between my liking for the characters and appreciation of the prose and some issues I had with the plot and setting. Despite my reservations it is a dark haunting tale that is beautifully written.
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

(I received an ARC from publish
Benji Martin
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ok. Where do I start. This book is fantastic. The most original book I've read in a long time. I will be recommending it to teen readers (and some adults) but unfortunately I won't be purchasing it for my elementary library. There are a few sexual references, there's talk of a girl taking "nudie" pictures in her basement, and the tone is just a little more mature than what my students are used to. This is very frustrating for me. My natural inclination is to shove this book into the hands of eve ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads

I have to admit, The Riverman (which GoodReads claims is the first in a trilogy) originally caught my attention because the cover looked super similar to the artwork on Colin Meloy's trilogy Wildwood (illustrated by Carson Ellis), which is about some magic woods and their relation to the lives of the hipster children (kid hipsters and the children of hipsters) living in Portland. You can see a comparison of those two covers below (w
☼Book her,   Danno☼
Adult Worthy~

**Starred Review** Kirkus
**Starred Review** GoodBooksforKids (

THE RIVERMAN was amazing. I received it as a review copy and I have to say that it's one of the best books I read this year. And if I get a chance again in my schedule, I'd love to read it again.  It was that good!

It all sounds rather sweet at first. There's a small town where children bike in the summer and throw rocks and do the things that are reminiscent of gentler times. But it all g
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Don't let the childish cover fool you, this isn't a middle grade novel--mild sexual references and violence push The Riverman toward a middle school audience. Fiona's trippy dream world, Aquavania, reminds me of Roxaboxen on acid, but the world-building and characterization in this book are the work of genius. That odd, but brilliant kid in your 6th or 7th grade class? Give her this one. ...more
I am pretty sure I have never read anything like that before.
I am pretty sure I loved it.
I am pretty sure that I am not sure about anything that happened.
And for some reason the music of TWIN PEAKS is going through my head.
Sam Poole
Jun 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
An Important Book that teeters between reality and possibly totally false fantasy. Completely excessive, disturbing and built around concepts of children hurting children, stealing each other's souls etc. The kind of book that feels good on a superficial level but is really just more of the same- so dark and stuffed with unrealistic characters who do unrealistically dark things that it is essentially impossible for me to take seriously. In a "so dark omg you have to read this" kind of way. Utter ...more
Karyn Silverman
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook, z2014-reads
5 stars right up until the last handful if pages, when it went a little pear shaped.

Gorgeous prose. Totally not kid like, but lovely and imaginative and wow, although I wish it wasn't first in a trilogy.

Really glad we did this for book club because I am looking forward to talking about it. Also thinking that the cover does it a HUGE disservice since it looks so young. Sophistication wise this is much older than package or character age would indicate.
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing

8 - 15 September 2020 / 4.5 out of 5 . see my first read through for my thoughts

march 5 -17 - 2014 / 4.5 out of 5

My thoughts

We've all used our imaginations during our childhood ,current children still do and future ones will do the same. As we grow older were confronted with reality and the fantasies , forts build out of pillows and blankets and playing with stuffed animals stops and fades away. Of course authors never lose this marvelous thing. Though some are better then others . The rive
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
The blurb of The Riverman pulled me in but also repelled me. How can I not be intrigued by a book that name-drops such awesome titles. But, by the same token, the audacity! It’s not necessarily a good idea to draw comparisons to Carroll, Lewis, and Gaiman, because that sets a seriously high bar. In this case, though, the blurb was spot on. The fantastical other-worldness of Lewis, the weirdness of Carroll, and the creep-factor of Gaiman combine in The Riverman.

Read the full review at A Reader of
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I sat down with The Riverman by Aaron Starmer early in the morning yesterday, thinking I would read a few pages and take my time with it - sometimes I like to read middle grade books slowly, you see. They feel so luxurious sometimes, the books written for the younger ages, being able to lose my mind in a story intended for a child. Anyway, this is not what happened to me. I was pulled into these pages immediately and I just could not let go - I read the entire story in one sitting.

The story cen
André Mwansa
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the most unique captivating books I've ever read.

This is the first book in a trilogy about a girl who claims she is visiting a parallel universe where a nefarious being called The Riverman is stealing the souls of children. She then asks a boy to write her biography because she fears her soul may be next.

Drat! Can't wait for book 2. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Samantha Fraenkel
I really liked this one. I find that I haven't read a lot of 9-12 that I would consider to be dark and spooky but The Riverman does both very well. There are a lot of comparisons flying around saying that this borrows ideas from the likes of Alice in Wonderland and Coraline and I will admit that I can see traces of that happening here.
So, The Riverman. First of all, how cool is Fiona Loomis?? I loved her character from page one and she just grew on me throughout the novel. Speaking of characters
I really need to give this to everyone I know and yell "READ THIS AND THEN TALK TO ME ABOUT IT!"

I don't even know what to do with this book. It's amazingly well written and ostensibly a middle grade novel, but it has the feeling of an adult novel written about 12 year olds. Alister's voice certainly doesn't sound like a 12 year old, but that could be because maybe he's not a 12 year old, that's wrapped up in the ambiguousness of the ending. And that ending? I didn't throw the book across the ro
Mary Ann
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Rating is more like a 3.5. Fascinating, engaging, and sometimes like a runaway train. The Riverman still has me wondering what's real and what's just vivid, youthful imagination. I'll be curious to know what the younger teens think of it, particularly the ending (or lack thereof?) The story as a whole is one that anyone who is, or who remembers being, 12 years old can relate to. The reality of shifting friendships, family relationships, and perception of the world around you is well portrayed. T ...more
This book is about 6th graders and every time I look at it I find myself wondering, "Would a 6th grader pick this up or would they find the cover too kiddish? As a 30-something, I love the Wes Anderson-esque cover..."

This is one of the best books I've read recently and one of the best books I've read for the younger teen crowd. Most of my reviewed books have been getting 2/5-3 stars lately, but this one is a solid 4/5 for me.
Suad Shamma
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favourites, 2016
Warning: spoilers ahead

Where do I begin? How do I begin? It doesn't really help that I read this book many months ago and have put off reviewing it until now. I was so overwhelmed by this book, and the trilogy in general, that I thought I needed time to process things before I could write about it. I was left bereft and puzzled by the end of this trilogy that I didn't know how to explain it all. And then I read so many books in-between that time that I now find myself speechless and lost.

All I
Molli Moran
Dec 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Y’all, The Riverman was such a fantastic book! I don’t read nearly enough middle grade, so when Macmillan reached out about this title, I jumped on it. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but what I found? Was imaginative, and captivating. A spooky thrill-ride that had me questioning what was real, what wasn’t, and where the boundaries of our imaginations are.

Confession: I didn't re-read the synopsis or anything before I started The Riverman. I dove into Aaron Starmer’s book blind, and I was
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
“We were weirdos, Fiona and I. Creative minds like ours were the minds of aliens.”

This is an incredibly imaginative, creepy, and well-written middle grade novel. The plot is about a Riverman stealing creative children's souls. Roughly.

One problem I have with a lot of books written for younger audiences is that the author seems to think they have to dumb down the writing for kids to understand it. I was delighted to find that this isn't the case with Aaron Starmer. While reading The Riverman,
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My fav middle grade book all year hands down. READ AND WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT.

Fiona Loomis offers Alistair Cleary a strange yet intriguing opportunity - the chance to write her autobiography. Fiona’s story is anything but straightforward. Alistair finds himself haunted to make sense of Fiona, her family, and their close knit upstate New York town. Highly imaginative and thought provoking, Starmer's storytelling skirts the line between children’s and young adult literature. A mix of a gripping myst
Nicole C
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-goal
Ok... What just happened? This was a strange and creepy book (right from the cover), and I'm not sure I understand the ending. However, I assume that was Starmer's intention. I have so many questions. Where is Fiona? What happened to Charlie and Kyle? Was Aquavania real? Mind. Blown. ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that will keep me thinking for some time, puzzling through what it was really all about. Was anything what it seemed? I am somewhat pleased that I am late to the party with this title, as now I can head to the library and grab the sequel.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
How the hell is this a children's book?

Seriously, this is one of the most imaginative thing I've read in a while. It was really dark in tone, but always fun at the same time. I feel like it would make a really good movie.
Michele Knott
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Now I get all the reviews that say WHAT???????
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The Riverman Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Whisper (The Riverman Trilogy, #2)
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