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The Portal

(Junction 2020 #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  39 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This is an updated cover edition of ISBN-10: 1453730877/ISBN-13: 978-1453730874.

New Year's Eve, 2019.

Mari Stratton attends a New Year's Eve party with her brother Randall and her hearing-impaired friend Lauren. A collecting game begins in the dark fields outside prior to the celebration countdown. When midnight strikes, Mari finds herself and four others propelled by a vio
Paperback, Second Edition, 246 pages
Published June 22nd 2017 by Amazon Digital Services (first published August 23rd 2010)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  39 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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As Mari Stratton and her friend Lauren were searching the darkness for the golden balls they needed to find before midnight, the backyard shed seemed a good place to look. It was New Year’s Eve 2019 and the excitement was high at the noisy party they were attending. When they were joined by Stephanie, Tony and Mari’s brother Randall the five of them were alarmed when the bell sounded to warn it was nearing midnight. But as midnight struck, a wind storm of massive proportions surrounded them. Sud ...more
Melody Delgado
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This YA story was an action-packed page turner from the very first moment. Mari and her friends attend a New Years Eve party in 2019 going on 2020. While on a treasure hunt, these five find themselves in a shed and are then transported to another land. The story unfolds as Mari tries to figure out where they are and how to return home. I've never read a story like this before. It was extremely unique and imaginative with subtle ways Mari grows and changes along her journey. ...more
Kirsti Call
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Super creative and fun adventure story!
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book! There were many times I felt as though I was right there in the scene with the well developed character Mari! This book was an absolute page turner and I was left guessing what would happen next. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Sci Fi fantasy reads with an ending that leaves you wanting more and wondering what will happen next!
Carol Riggs
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
This is my light fantasy novel for young adults (and adults!) that I’ve always had a soft spot for. I wrote the original version of book 1 in the 1990s, revised and released it for a few friends and my mom in 2010, and now have revised it again in 2017. It used to be third person (Mari, she) and now it’s first person (I, me). I also changed it from past tense to present, which I find more immediate and gripping. The book is probably technically more of a novella, being under 55,000 words (246 pa ...more
Patrick Hodges
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, shifters
Rating: 3.5/5

The story:

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, 2019, adolescents Mari, her brother Randall, her best friend Lauren, her frenemy Stefanie, and Stefanie’s boyfriend Tony are sucked into a portal and transported to a world full of danger. They find they all bear the same brand, a mysterious symbol, on their arms. Mari soon discovers, much to her dismay, that the landscape of this world, and some of the nasties that inhabit it, are very familiar… namely, because they are creatur
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Portal (Junction 2020) is an exciting fast-paced fantasy with just the right amount of darkness and light. Set in a fascinating world, the story has a unique plotline, twists and turns, adventure, action, and a strong main character. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to the sequel.
Dave Higgins
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Mixing an intriguing variation on characters mysteriously transported to another world with an immediately recognisable portrayal of teenage brittleness, Riggs provides a decidedly young adult tale on the border of science-fiction and fantasy.

Mari Stratton doesn’t especially like Stephanie, but doesn’t dislike her enough to miss her New Year’s Eve Party. However, what starts as the typical mix of teenage posturing and petty squabbles turns serious when Mari, Stephanie, and several other party go
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this YA fiction for an honest review from Book Tasters and this review was not influenced by the author or anyone and is purely my views.

This story has a very good arc of a fantasy fiction, where a set of normal next door teenagers gets transported suddenly into another world. Here these teenagers are not chosen for this task based on their powers or abilities. It happens just randomly.

The initial chapters start with introducing these teenagers (Mari, Randall, Stephanie, Toni, and
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

True confession: I’m not normally a huge fan of Young Adult fiction. I wasn’t a huge fan when I was a young adult. Many are rather preachy about their lessons, the characters frequently stock characters, and too much time is spent on teen crushes. However, the Junction 2020 series successfully rides the line between “Young Adult” and just “Fiction” and what a ride it is.
The protagonists are teens, yes, but they’re well-drawn in
Alisha Rowe
Apr 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review was originally posted at
Randall, Lauren, Tony, and Mari have gone to a New Year's Eve party at the popular Stefani's house. However, while playing a game to find ping pong balls the group of five finds themselves in another dimension that seems born of nightmares and things adored. There are vampire spiders and executioners who kill you if you break the ten pm curfew as well as music to match your mood. Not only do they need to find a way home, they need to
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
** I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. **

First Impression: Traveling through time or dimensions is an intriguing prospect.

Characters: I found the characters to be a bit flat in this first installment. Although younger readers might relate to the young characters in The Portal, older readers may struggle with the lack of development.

World Building: Riggs shines once she pulls you from the real world into her imagination. This is the second book I've read, and she
Linda Hamonou
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the best book from Carol Riggs I have read so far. It took me a while to read it because I was still thinking too much of the book I read before it, so that has nothing to do with the book itself.
This is a very nice story an a YA/teenager story a lot more interesting in the way of character relationship than most book in the genre that I have read recently. Here you have no stupid love triangle, nobody is confused about their feelings and there is no real love at first sight craziness,
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyably Creepy!

After reading a heavy WWII story, I needed a fun and easy read. This was it! The Portal will be enjoyable for anyone from young tween to old granny. It was very fast-paced with lots of action.

I was intrigued by the idea of a world in another dimension created by our own nightmares. Who hasn’t had those monster dreams in their youth? Imagine waking up and finding your scariest fear right outside your door! Imagine running through a dark forest, fighting your way through the beas
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booktasters
Written from one character's point of view, this story take the reader on a sci-fi adventure to another land made up of dreams and nightmares. Mari and her best friend Lauren are invited to a party on New Year’s Eve 2019 and in the middle of a game, Stephanie, Tony and Mari’s brother Randall find themselves in the neighbor's shed. In the shed are strange triangular symbols, and it transports them to a land that is nothing like their world, and yet to Mari, somewhat familiar. Evil Shifters chase ...more
Emily Pennington
Apr 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Mari Stratton attends a New Year's Eve party in 2019 with her brother, Randall, and her friend, Lauren. They join a game in the fields outside right before the New Year’s countdown at midnight. But at the stroke of 12:00, something odd happens when Mari and four others end up somewhere else. Trying to get help, frightening black-cloaked riders on horseback called Shifters are already actively hunting them and the danger is palpable! They must figure out how to return to the “real” world they lef ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The story is unique and feels like a different take on the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. I think the book starts off really strong and had me interested in reading more about the characters and the world they ended up in, but I was less interested in the story as it progressed.

The story might be written for a younger audience which for be why I struggled with some of the plot. I often pictured the main character as being 1
dimayra rivera
Apr 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a YA that’s kept hooked. I had a heard time putting the phone down to stop reading and go to sleep, and when I did, I ended up dreaming about the story! Truly captivating! It’s about a group of teenagers (not all friends which adds a cool dynamic to the group) that suddenly find themselves in an alternate dimension created by people’s dreams and nightmares. There they find themselves separated and the main character finds herself having to face her worst fea ...more
Bree Nixon
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Portal (Junction 2020, #1) begins with Mari attending Stephanie’s NYE party with her best friend Lauren, and Mari’s older brother Randall.
A hunt for prizes brings Mari, Lauren, Randall, Tony & Stephanie together in an old dusty shed.
A shed that just so happens to have a portal to another dimension.
Mari and her crew are transported into a nightmarish landscape.
They spend a week trying to survive their new surroundings, and trying to find a way back home.
Vampire spiders, snot rain, and a
Jennifer Dance
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so impressed by this book. It’s been ages since I’ve been so engrossed in a book that I couldn’t put it down. I started reading before bed and ended up staying awake the whole night to finish it! The book is meant for a younger audience but it’s not cringey or juvenile. It’s action packed and emotional too! You really get attached to the characters and even though the book is shorter, I didn’t feel like the character development was lacking. The world is so descriptive and immersive that I ...more
Eli Celata
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun, fast-paced book great for a vacation beach-read. The main character, Mari, is straight-forward and manages to inspire trust and secret-sharing from the people she meets in her adventures to protect herself and her friends.

Written in present tense, the quick dialogue and whimsical decision-making keeps the plot light even when the author delves into dark territory. There were times when I yearned for more meaty descriptions, but in keeping the focus narrowed and streamlined, I appreciated
Liesl Takle
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine waking up to find your most terrifying nightmares have become your reality. This is the case for Mari and her unlikely group of unintentional travelling companions.

I had a little difficulty getting into the flow of this story, due I think to my wanting to get a bit deeper into understanding the characters at the start instead of just going with it to learn as the story went along. That and my dislike for a couple of the characters to begin with.

Once I settled in though I found it to be a
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting to have read this is 2020, being that this year has definitely been a roller coaster so far. Junction 2020 takes place on New Year’s Eve in 2019; at midnight, a group of teenagers are transported to another dimension. They don’t know why or how they ended up there, but they quickly find out that it’s a land of nightmares. The premise is very intriguing and the world-building is interesting; but the main character is somewhat basic. She doesn’t have many interesting qualities, ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars. Imagine living in a world of your loveliest dreams and most frightening nightmares. Imagine not knowing how to get out of that with your sanity intact. Aside from the certain PTSD resulting from this, our heroine is learning the lessons of maturity - that words only hurt if you let them, that heartache over shallow males is a waste of time, that facing one’s fears will destroy them. A very fine read indeed.
Laurel Kristick
Won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Pretty good fantasy about 5 teenagers who are propelled through a portal to a world of dreams and nightmares. Wish the characters had been more evenly developed - one of the teens had a good introduction but was barely in the story after they entered the new world and I kept forgetting about her.
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I was quite intrigued with the blurb. It’s a quick and entertaining story of Mari, her brother Randall, and friends. It’s New Year’s Eve and they discover a portal out in the fields. Of course being curious they entered the portal and are brought to another realm. Thanks to Goodreads and author Carol Riggs for an ebook copy in exchange for my review.
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read. I always say I'm not the biggest fantasy fan, however, when I do pick one to read, they're usually really good. And this one was no different. It's creative, fun, action packed and a page turner. I do like that the book is on the shorter side because it makes it an easy read. I'm looking forward to second one. ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
The idea of the story is interesting. The whole plot of being stuck in a nightmare landscape is compelling.

However, execution was lacking. The prose seems juvenile and the characters are just stereotypes. Not worth it.
Randy Harmelink
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-portals
Nothing momentous. Nothing memorable. Not a lot of character development. But I enjoyed the story and found it easy to read.
Melissa Levine
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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I'm a writer of Young Adult fiction who lives in the beautiful, green state of Oregon. My sci-fi debut, THE BODY INSTITUTE, explores themes of body image and identity. Cool news!--this book is under development for a TV series with producer Lane Shefter Bishop. An audiobook of the book released April 2020. The sequel, SPARES, released January 2021.


Other books in the series

Junction 2020 (5 books)
  • Nightmare Realization (Junction 2020, #2)
  • Silent Scream (Junction 2020, #3)
  • Future Terrors (Junction 2020, #4)
  • Vanishing Fears (Junction 2020, #5)

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