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The Door

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For years, the door has stayed closed. Hannah Silver hardly notices it as she goes about her strange life in an isolated lighthouse. But when a pair of mysterious strangers -- a boy and his guardian -- show up at the lighthouse, things start to go very wrong. Hannah's life is shattered. And the door is now wide open.

In order to save herself and her family, Hannah must walk through this door.

Into another world.

A world where she doesn't belong.

A world that wants to capture her and make sure she never makes it back home.

In THE DOOR, author Andy Marino gives readers an extraordinary adventure in a place they have never, ever seen before.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published April 29, 2014

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About the author

Andy Marino

17 books135 followers
Andy Marino was born in upstate New York, spent half his life in New York City, and now lives in the Hudson Valley. He is the author of seven novels for young readers, most recently THE PLOT TO KILL HITLER trilogy.

THE SEVEN VISITATIONS OF SYDNEY BURGESS is his first novel for adults.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
609 reviews204 followers
March 19, 2015
Where do we go when we die? An age old question, an utterly unique interpretation.

The two member Silver family is beyond eccentric. Twelve year old Hannah and her apparently hapless mother Leanna exist together in the sprawling Cliffhouse. Their lives, however; are quite separate with Hannah essentially orbiting Leanna, tuned to her many moods easily identified by the state of her fingernails and cuticles and counting “big-girl” glasses of wine.

Because of her unconventional upbringing, it isn’t particularly surprising to find that young Hannah is quite the quirky kid. She has two distinctly different voices in her head, not-so-affectionately dubbed “the old woman” and Hannah’s very own “twin sister”. Meticulous rituals are required to descend stairs and maneuver hallways. Room entry may require a password and the “three” share a secret language they call “Muffin”.

The reason for the peculiar life-style was difficult for the intelligent, ever inquisitive Hannah to accept. The Silvers were the Guardians of the lighthouse. Obsolete for decades since ships no longer sailed the waters surrounding the mammoth structure; the need for guardianship seemed a bit superfluous to Hannah’s thinking. Besides, there was a ridiculous design error with the lighthouse. A door. That could not possible go anywhere. Silly.

Tragedy comes with a lightning strike and everything changes. Hannah has only one choice. Walk through that door to nowhere. Nowhere, being The City of the Dead. Unlike any concept considered, Mr. Marino tugs the reader along like a sibling stubbornly choosing each path in a choose-your-own-adventure story.

As Hannah, emphatically not dead, plows through The City streets, single-mindedly determined to right a wrong, the reader is immersed in a clever kaleidoscope. The scenery isn’t the only continuous change. Characters Hannah once deemed trustworthy must now be watched with suspicion. Those she was wary of may well serve as her true friends, with only her best interest in their hearts. Or not.

It is impossible to think. Information is inconsistent, often contradictory. The environment assaults all senses and --Hannah’s most horrific realization—she is losing her memory of the Cliffhouse with its useless lighthouse and why she is even here in the first place.

This page-turning, mysterious, fantastical journey will be widely received. Avid young readers yearning for something different will welcome this tale that, much like The City of the Dead, has many thought-provoking layers.
Profile Image for Ash Wednesday.
441 reviews524 followers
August 12, 2016
”If you’re lonely right now, you have to understand that it’s not half as lonely as you’ll feel for the rest of your life, once you know what I know.”

Full disclosure, I didn’t realise this was a Middle Grade book until I got approved for this galley. The last MG book I read was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. So I was expecting to feel out of my element while reading this, only to be surprised how fascinating this turned out.

In the beginning anyway.

I really liked how manic this author’s imagination seem to be, that you have to wonder what herbal plane he’s operating on. I just wish he also took something to rein in all that creativity, enough to make the story more coherent and sensible.

Hannah Silver lives with her mother, Leanna, on the Cliff House, a property with a lighthouse in their backyard. She’s a little quirky: imaginary friends, imaginary language and imaginary, horrible obstacles on the lighthouse’s stairway that she counteracts with certain manoeuvres. So that’s schizophrenia, OCD and stairway phobia. On the day an odd pair of gentlemen visits the Cliff House, her mother reveals to her that the mysterious door in the lighthouse is a portal to the after-life and their family has been tasked to be its Guardians. The next day, Hannah finds her mother dead.

Intent on finding her mother, Hannah goes inside the door and discovers The City of the Dead where there’s a war going on between The Banished souls and The Watchers. As she entails the help of her now corporeal imaginary friends, an ambitious artistic boy, a playful paint lizard and an honour-bound warrior girl to find her mother, she discovers the truth about the strange, infinite world she’s now tasked to guard over.

While mulling over this story last night, I realised that I did enjoy the book while I was reading it, but not the story as a whole. I’m a fan of eccentric and absurdist humour and I like how this was the general of The Door. If there’s one thing you can’t accuse this book of, it’s generic.
Her pony kicked her telescope, while his lobster snapped its claws at her tree. The sprites flitted and spun and battled. All at once there was a sound like shattered glass and the man cried out in frustration as his telescope vanished, followed by his coffee mug.

I mean, that’s a fight sequence between wristwatches, obviously.

It takes a bit of time to get used to Marino’s whimsy, certainly some workout in my increasingly limited imagination: The Muffin language, toothpicks and a space bar disappearing in Hannah’s thumb, a giant fish ship, a talking reverse Pensieve… the story progressed with a Through the Looking Glass feel to it which I enjoyed for what it is. Unlike Sarah Fine’s Sanctum, where the after-life has a dreary, noir feel to it, The City of the Dead was built with some Seussian creativity. The characters were quirk and fun, I particularly enjoyed Throckmorton and Urvashi’s nonsensical terms of endearments to each other which ranged from “melon ball” to “finely-aged cheddar” to “tangy vinaigrette”.

But if there’s another thing you can’t accuse this book of, it’s coherent. Elaborate world building is well and good but I do need for it to make sense. Because logic and coherence seem to have taken the backseat in this case. Pertinent elements that were pointed out in the beginning (i.e. people who stay in the City of the Dead gradually begin to forget the lives they led when they were alive) mattered very little in the grand scheme of things or seem to only be true for the main protagonists. The organization of The Watchers and The Guardians had very little background on how that came about and while it was cute to see the bureaucratic nightmares the afterlife still offers in this book, the humour felt hollow without some firm context supporting it.

Marino gave painstaking details of the architecture and population in every city Hannah and her friends visit, but not enough attention to the foundations of the relationships between Hannah and the other characters. Because at certain points their emotional stock and importance felt grossly underestimated for what the story was making them out to be. I’m sorry, your imaginary friends are disappearing? Sacrificing themselves so you won’t forget about your mom?

The ending was an all out WTF affair. The kind that would’ve made you angry had you any investment on the outcome of Hannah’s adventures. I’m still not quite sure if it was a blessing or a curse that I really didn’t give that much fuck when I got to it. It was such a lazy, throwaway of an ending, clearly without any effort on the part of the author whatsoever. I kept wondering if this was written on a drug-fuelled, two-hour lunch break and when the warning bell rang, the writer just decided to paste a hasty The End and left it at that.

I suppose, I can imagine this would have been a good bedtime story for people trying to raise atheists. It’s just that, the story had some massive problems in coherence, they might unintentionally convert their children and themselves to any form of organized religion.
”What was I going to be called if I was a boy?” Hannah asked in the pickup truck during last year’s trip.
“Sylvester. Obviously.”
“Sylvester Obviously Silver.”
“I’m just kidding,” her mother said. “You were going to be Boris.”

Also on BookLikes.
ARC provided by the publishers.
Profile Image for Rebecca May.
Author 5 books4 followers
August 14, 2018
I listened to this book as an audiobook while driving. I often find interesting and enjoyable books in the children's audio section at the library. Since it was published by Scholastic, I had high expectations. I was completely disappointed.

The first couple chapters were fascinating. I recognized the signs of schizophrenia and paranoia in the main character, Hannah, and then saw that her mother had mental illness as well. I was intrigued as to how a juvenile fiction book would deal with these issues.

Instead, the book became an Alice-in-Wonderland tour of the afterlife. The frenetic pace and descriptions of the various cities and how to get there were hard to follow and really not something worth imagining. Especially since the reader never got enough answers to stay invested in the story. Hannah's internal voices become real people who then sacrifice themselves for her in some way, but their existence and the point of their sacrifice is never explained. As for that, most things are never explained, including how Hannah herself died. For 95 percent of the book, Hannah believes she is in the city of the dead as someone who has never died and therefore will get to return to her real life. In the final few chapters, she discovers she is really dead. But we never know how that happened. Nothing in the action while she is in the real world would explain her death. Unless she simply fell to the ground when she entered the door, but we've already been told that door doesn't open to the exterior of the lighthouse. And the big mystery that Hannah had been to the city before was never answered! Many clues were set up that the reader expected would be resolved, but the author didn't bother to tie up those loose ends.

As many have commented, the ending was a huge disappointment to the point of making me wish I hadn't wasted my time listening to the story.

Allegorically, the book teaches that the afterlife sucks. The mayor of the city (who should be God allegorically) is a worm that hides out in the drawer of a desk in city hall. The book gives readers two choices about faith: Either God and Heaven (called "ascension" in the book) and other elements of religious faith are a cruel lie told by power-hungry authority figures, or they are a self-selected delusion. How inappropriate to feed to middle-grade children! It's disturbing enough for an adult to consider.

I would not recommend this book for anyone except perhaps as how not to write middle-grade fantasy.
1 review
April 26, 2021
i am SO SORRY but this book is terrible. i understand that the author took a ton of time to write it and i feel bad but watching GRASS GROW would be more interesting to do. i literally can't process this story, and i know it's not just me because other reviews say it's bad and i can follow every other book fine. the beginning was spicy, i'll give it that. but the rest. LET ME TELL YOU. it is SO AWFUL. if your considering reading this i'm living proof that your life will be 100 times better if you never open the pages of this monstrosity. i have CHOKED DOWN 200 pages and i have 97 left to go so wish me luck because i think this book is going to BORE me to death. it's not even slightly realistic. i'm not even hou to give you a spoiler alert because i promise with my whole heart you do NOT want to read this. but like wow, hannah is sheltered af and some random dude can just come in and know about the lighthouse and her weird stair situation, and then all of a sudden he KILLS HER MOM AND SHE GOES THRU A DOOR AND NOW THE PEOPLE IN HER HEAD ARE LIVING. please tell me this is a joke. THEN she is running around this weird world (which you can't even BEGIN to picture in your head because it makes no sense) and she meets 8000 people and first everyone's mad at her but then they are helping her?? HUH?! then they are in the thing with the world and belinda died and it's like girl get your mom and get out. but anyways thank you for listening to my rant and i hope you have a blessed day and i PRAY that you never ever ever have to cough down a terrible book such as this one. also my birthday was like a week ago (april 17th) and i just turned 14 so yayy!! anyways if you were to only make one decision in your life, it would need to be pick a different book. i recommend The Book Theif.
Profile Image for Colleen.
210 reviews
June 19, 2021
It was confusing, interesting, unsatisfying and I felt like I was reading Alice in Wonderland if she was on LSD. And the ending was like a set up for a sequel. But— really?!
Profile Image for Kar Schmidt Holloway.
134 reviews4 followers
November 14, 2021
I admit I did not get far (1hr into the audiobook), but a story depicting a child showing signs of DID or psychosis only for it to turn out to be real ghosts and magic was too upsetting to continue.
Profile Image for Anya.
763 reviews168 followers
September 28, 2014
The Door by Andy Marino is a middle-grade fantasy that explores the idea of an afterlife in a city very similar to the real world but fantastical in its own way. The Door also features a protagonist with some mental and social quirks, which hooked me immediately since that is something I don’t see explored enough in speculative fiction. However, The Door stumbled into many of the typical middle-grade traps by not having a strong plot and failing to explore the interesting aspects of the premise. Oh, and there is literally no ending by the traditional definition….
Note: I received The Door from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

On Starships and Dragonwings Button

The Door by Andy Marino
Published by Scholastic Press on April 29th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Length: 288 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher

For years, the door has stayed closed. Hannah Silver hardly notices it as she goes about her strange life in an isolated lighthouse. But when a pair of mysterious strangers -- a boy and his guardian -- show up at the lighthouse, things start to go very wrong. Hannah's life is shattered. And the door is now wide open.

In order to save herself and her family, Hannah must walk through this door.

Into another world.

A world where she doesn't belong.

A world that wants to capture her and make sure she never makes it back home.

Cities in the afterlife seems to be a trend and The Door presents a pretty interesting middle-grade spin on the idea. The mysterious door in the lighthouse and guardians of said door were all intriguing and fun to get pulled into and then we find out that in order to progress through limbo, residents of this city work to perform some amazing and unique achievement, such as painting the most amazing painting or inventing glass controlled by nanotechnology. Very cool!
The writing of The Door is light and fast, as I typically expect from middle-grade. I enjoyed the descriptions of the city and its denizens since they evoked some really beautiful scenes.
The Door presents a magic system that is assumed to be very advanced technology or technology that conforms to different rules than our world and I had one particular favorite: 3D paint! The artists in this afterworld are able to paint with special material that leads to their paintings being literally 3D objects, but with a painting of that object superimposed. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but so fun to read about!

I wasn’t really sure how my relationship with The Door was going to end up until the end. Just because you put “The End” and no more words, does not an ending make! If you need closure of any kind at the end of a story, this is so not the book for you.
The last bit of The Door was also incredibly anti-climactic. It fell into that horrendous trap of a solution magically presenting itself that makes everything that happened pointless. The fun of middle-grade is for children to be empowered and go on adventures! When the MC doesn’t end up actually doing anything, it’s a bit disappointing.
All the things that interested me at the beginning of The Door (Hannah’s apparent mental disability, her relationship with her mother, the dynamics of this afterlife city) are left completely unanswered and unaddressed. Worse yet, Hannah’s mental disability is basically cured as soon as The Door gets rolling and its source is never explored.
The adults and villains in The Door are completely flat and dull. I could practically see the mustache-twirling baddies and parents who just want to ruin all the fun for the kids. I expect better even from middle-grade.

The Door had promise but failed to pursue any of the interesting aspects of the premise. It fell into all the typical problems with middle-grade that make people not interested in this genre and that disappoints me quite a bit. I’m still rather flabbergasted at whatever those last 20 pages were supposed to be and you seriously should have seen my expression when I got to the “end” ;-). I’m sad to say that The Door just doesn’t represent middle-grade fantasy well at all.
Profile Image for Jenny.
688 reviews38 followers
March 23, 2014

I was incredibly disappointed in this book. I thought the premise of this book sounded really interesting but the execution fell a little flat. While I can't say that I disliked the book, it was certainly a huge disappointment and definitely not the quality book I expected.

The biggest problem that I had with this book was the plot. The story itself sounds interesting enough; a young girl, Hannah, (who hears voices) ventures into the world of the dead in search of someone dear to her (I will try not to give anything away). While Hannah thinks that the "Watchers", those in charge of the world, will be helpful towards her, really they are seemingly out to get her and cause Hannah to get into a whole whirl of trouble while in this new world. While the plot sounds interesting, it really wasn't. Everything seems incredibly hard to believe and difficult to follow. I had a hard time believing in the series of events and the course of actions that the characters took.

Another problem that I had with this story was the writing style. The author writes in a style that is simplistic and choppy. There were times when I felt that the writing was way to simplistic; I understand that this is a young adult/young reader book but there where times when the writing seemed more aligned with the early-reader level. The writing style was also rather choppy. The author jumps around with his events and actions, not quite giving the reader enough description to keep up with all of the action.

The final problem that I had with this book were the characters. Hannah was just extremely hard to either relate to or like. First off is the fact that she's hearing voices (her imaginary friends), which just had me thinking to myself throughout the story that she'd just experienced a mental breakdown and was just imagining everything. She also has a serious issue with stairs and if that isn't a sign of mental instability in Hannah, I don't know what is (you'll understand further if you read the book). Hannah was also really hard to like and her actions just made me roll my eyes. She seemed a little snotty to me, not really understanding how to talk politely to others or showing any respect to those who are smarter/older than her. But don't even get me started on her actions. Hannah makes some really (at least to me) stupid decisions. Rather than just staying politely in the cell once she's been captured by the watchers and waiting to solve her problems civilly, Hannah allows "Albert" (another voice in her head/imaginary friend) to conjure up a storm to break her out of the cell.

Overall, I can't say that I hated this book but it definitely wasn't an enjoyable read. This book had an intriguing premise but the execution was lackluster at best. I would not recommend this book unless you are absolutely in love with unbelievable worlds, unlikable characters, and uninteresting plots.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Nikki.
133 reviews
April 17, 2014
My copy was provided by Netgalley.

Hannah has lived an isolated life her entire life. She lives in an isolated lighthouse away from people, away from real life, but she's okay with that. Hannah doesn't care that she might be considered weird for living in a lighthouse. She's satisfied with her life inside until two strangers arrive and open Pandora's box. The door separating the dead from the living is open when Hannah travels into the world of the dead to find a certain person. There are people called Watchers inside this world that seemingly want to help Hannah, but might have ulterior motives.

This book sounded really interesting, especially because the summary didn't give much away. The book was a real mystery at first without me having a clue as to what was going on. This book was really hard to follow and it was extremely confusing. Throughout the whole novel, I had no clue what was happening and the questions never cleared up.

I had no idea what was going on with Hannah. She could hear voices inside her head and I didn't know if she was having auditory hallucinations or if these voices are actually real. Hannah was hard to understand or connect to. She made stupid decisions all the time. It's like if I was Hannah, I certainly wouldn't get into the kind of messes she got herself into.

Hannah's attitude annoyed me. She seemed kinda snotty to me, as if she thought she was above everyone. Whenever someone suggested something to her, she would always choose her way even if her way got her into major trouble. She didn't show respect to her elders which really annoyed me, especially when Hannah should have listened and respected others. She would rather cause trouble and avoid her problems rather than wait and deal with them calmly.

Besides that, the world of the dead seemed highly unbelievable and I didn't feel as if the concept introduced in the book could ever happen in real life.

The book sounded interesting, but I just didn't enjoy it. If Hannah was a bit more likable and the book made more sense and was constructed better, I would have definitely enjoyed it more.
Profile Image for Eden Grey.
295 reviews65 followers
October 10, 2014
Reminiscent of Clive Barker's ABARAT series, THE DOOR is a magical adventure filled with twisty turns and strange wonders.

This story is so much more strange and magical than you would ever expect. Just look at that cover. Read the synopsis. Sounds a bit droll, right? It is anything but!

The protagonist, Hannah Silver, is quite likable and endearing. She's a strange girl who lives in a lighthouse with her oddly paranoid mother. Just when Hannah thinks she's going to be a normal girl and go to school and make friends and everything, her mother is murdered right outside her own house!

Hannah embarks on a journey to the land of the dead to find her mother, who was murdered by a boy that she thought was her friend. The dead city is a massive, sprawling metropolis of oddities. There Hannah befriends Stefen, a quirky painter-boy, comes face-to-face with her imaginary friends Belinda and Nancy, and must avoid the scary Watchers who want to capture and imprison her.

The dead city is more magical than I have words to describe. Take, for example, this scene: "Stefan was at her side, paintbrush sparkling with a dab of digitally enhanced skin from Charlemagne, who slunk about the floor with an arched back like a jungle cat poised for battle." I smiled when I read it, because I could so very easily picture the feisty Charlemagne, who happens to be a chameleon, acting like a jungle cat. This is just one of pages and pages of lovely, yet weird, images that readers will enjoy.

At just about 300 pages long, THE DOOR is a self-contained epic of a story. It could easily have been much longer - Hannah goes through so much, makes such important friendships, and ventures into so many new places. The fact that it is all contained in one little book is simply incredible.

Teen and Middle Grade fans of Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, and the ABARAT series will very much enjoy this book. However, the target audience is definitely younger readers looking for a story filled with magic and wonder and adventure.

Literary Merit: Great
Characterization: Good
Recommended: Highly
Level: Ages 8 and up.
Profile Image for Cathal Reynolds.
520 reviews23 followers
January 2, 2015
Is there going to be a sequel or something? Or even just a short story that ends it properly. Everything was tied up at the end, nice and neat, except for THIS ONE MASSIVE THING THAT'S REALLY GETTING TO ME.
Aside from that, I very much enjoyed this books. The main character wasn't even that annoying for once, and there was no romance to speak of, and it was more of a realistic fantasy, if that made sense. I love the idea of the afterworld Marino's got going on in this book too. Aside from the fact that I would be dead, I wouldn't half mind living there.
Also I want a pet Charlemagne.
1,095 reviews
April 5, 2016
The first in a long time that I really didn't like. Hannah lives with her mother in a lighthouse, but "sees" many things that you wonder if they are really there. When she finds her mother dead, she goes through a door and enters another reality of souls living in many different kinds of "cities." It was a little too weird for me. Too fantastical I guess. I didn't really invest in the plot or characters to care what was happening and found myself just skimming through the weird descriptions, just to get to the action and the end of the book. I didn't really like it at all - just wanted to see what would happen.
Profile Image for Jamie.
860 reviews2 followers
June 7, 2015
Enh, it was ok. I like the idea of the connection between Earth and where we go after death, but parts of the story were really confusing. Hannah is very odd and it was hard to connect with her. It is never explained where Nancy, Belinda, and Albert come from (or go to for that matter). There does not appear to be a sequel and the ending leaves you with a lot of questions.
Profile Image for Miss Pippi the Librarian.
2,400 reviews54 followers
December 25, 2014
I'm a big fan of the fantasy genre, but this story just got strange. I don't like giving up on books, but I was complaining to much while reading it. It was too unbelievable. I'm glad other readers enjoyed it, but it was not a book for me. Happy reading, The Door reader! For now, I'm going to pass.

Progress: 37% (Chapter 16)

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Scholastic!
Profile Image for Ellie.
42 reviews
July 19, 2018
After I picked up the book, I could not stop reading it. At first, I thought that the beginning was slightly boring but the plot sped up quickly.
99 reviews1 follower
July 9, 2014
I like the first chapter. Otherwise...Ugg. It was like being in someone's drug induced dream.
Profile Image for Lanelle.
320 reviews
March 28, 2016
Odd. Trippy. Unexplainable. I guess I can understand this type of book if it were intended for adults, but not for 10-12 year-olds.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
51 reviews
November 21, 2014
I'd put this book in the teen fantasy category. Not for me but ok but not for me
Profile Image for LisaSunshineGirl.
285 reviews5 followers
December 14, 2014
I listened to this as a book-on-audio, and it kept me mesmerized all the way through. What I liked best about this book was its unpredictability. Kept me guessing all the way through...
10 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2017
It was a good book. At some points it got kind of boring though. It had really good characters. I liked reading it. I would recommend it to others.
Profile Image for Sheila.
163 reviews
June 27, 2015
Way too much going on in this book. The ending left much to be desired.
287 reviews
November 17, 2016
The teaser was the best part about the book. The protagonist was unlikeable and although the fantasy world was interesting, I wish the author would have spent more time on characterization.
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews

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