First things first, thank you to NetGalley for providing a free eARC of this book in return for an unbiased review.
I picked this book up as the concept sounded cute and interesting, and as a Geography student, the environmental viewpoint was really inviting. Sadly, I was disappointed by this book. Although I went into this book knowing that it was intended for children aged 7-9, I still felt that it was too childish for this audience. The writing was also sub-par in quality, and I hate when this happens in children’s literature as it feels like the author believed their full efforts weren’t needed for “just” a kids book.
There were sections of this book which should have been great emotional moments, with the characters feeling confused, shocked, worried, excited or more. However, this never seemed to happen and emotions were very muted. One such example of this: ‘”Oh.” Magnus was very excited.’ … was he? Was he really? With various sectors like this, I feel like this book could have really benefited from further input from editors and the writer having more experience with writing, both in general and for children.
I feel like this book is more aimed at 4-6 year-olds, as there is almost no emotional depth and the language used (with an exception being dinosaur species) being very simple. There were plot setups for future books which older children would likely be able to spot with ease and the character of Em has what feels like no development.
Moving onto the good points of this short read. The concept of this book is actually really good! As mentioned above, I love the environmental aspect of the book which pushes the use of renewable energy and challenges the consumer-driven world we live in. The concept of the series is also really good, with multiple (seemingly parallel) universes and a well fleshed-out villain who is perfect for a kids book. There were a few really interesting scenes, one involving the Jewelled Book of the Universe and Em, and another involving a clever deception of the bad guys at the end!
I feel like this book could have been so much better and had so much potential. Possibly the book was rushed, or it was the authors first work and the editorial team didn’t analyse the writing as well as they could. The plot line is there, and with a little more development the characters are also. Fingers crossed that as this series continues on the author will develop and improve and make this an interesting kids series that I would happily recommend to my friends with children. I hope S. L. Browne manages to pull this off and end up with a really unique, fun and interesting children’s series with a brilliant environmental message behind it.
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