Yay! My first challenge,and my first challenge entry. For my first entry I went with Hollow Earth.
Title: Hollow Earth
Author: John Barrowman and Carole E. Barroman
Length: 382 pages
Genre: fiction, middle-grade, fantasy
Why I read it: John Barrowman, need I say more?
What it’s about: The synopses says it’s about twins who can put themselves into pictures, but that is slightly inaccurate. The twins Matt and Em, can put themselves into pictures, but they can also draw a picture and animate them, thus bringing their drawings to life, or manifesting them into reality (I.E. if they draw a key to get into a locked room, they animate the drawing and can use the key to unlock the door). Anyway, one day they are with their mother at work when they animate themselves into a painting, unfortunately The Council has been keeping an eye on them and notices their antics, so the Calder family has to flee to Scotland. Once they get there, Matt and Em learn more about their abilities and how to control them.
The good: In genre that is being taken over by witches, werewolves, vampires,angels, and zombies, this was not only an original (or at least close to one) concept, it was filled with imagination that I really wasn’t expecting. I mean, I love John Barrowman, and I loved his autobiographies, but when it comes to actors, it’s one thing to write a good book about your life, and it’s one thing to act out a story from someone else’s imagination, but it’s another thing entirely to make your own imagination into a story (I’m not saying actors can’t be talented authors, just that it’s a nice surprise when they are). When I first heard about the book, I was excited about it simply because John Barrowman is one of my favorite actors. That is the same reason I bought the book and the reason I read it. But as I was reading I seemed to forget that it was written by an actor and his sister, it was simply so good that it wouldn’t have mattered who wrote it, I would still love it.
The bad: Unfortunately, the book is not without flaw. first off, there were a few too many characters. One person, Vaughn, was introduced in chapter ten, and didn’t make another appearance until chapter fifty-six. Which brings me to my next qualm. The book simply had too many chapters. A whopping Seventy-five chapters total. 19 chapters more than the fourth Harry Potter Book, and still 400-odd pages less. Granted the chapters were, at most, five pages long. The next thing that irked me was the obviousness of who the villain was. Maybe it was the fact that this character didn’t have a close relationship with anyone else in the book that gave it away, or maybe it was simply the fact that the person played a key role, but was also overlooked until an opportune time. Lastly, the title makes it sound like Matt and Em would actually learn more about Hollow Earth, or that it would play the biggest role in the story, but alas,all that was found out about it was that it was real and there was a society formed in its name to oppose The council, and they want the twins because they are powerful. Nothing more. No idea what the HES wants in the grand scheme of things, no idea what Hollow Earth itself is. An Alternate universe? a secret school for animere? I don’t know.
Final thoughts: Despite the faults of the book, it was fun to read, and I do eagerly await the sequel, but I don’t really think it should be a middle-grade book. YA, sure, sci-fi, maybe, but I think just given the chapter count alone kids 9-13 may not have the attention span for it.