This is a very fun and enjoyable fantasy book! I don’t tend to be a big fan of middle grade fiction, but this was a notable exception. The writing was uncomplicated and the plot straight-forward enough for younger readers, but there were surprises at almost every turn. New and different things were constantly happening that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Yet everything flowed together and the overall picture made complete sense.
The fantasy elements of the story were very well developed without being overly complicated. There were some things that were quite confusing at first, but as more is learned about the back story, things begin to make more and more sense. And it all fits together wonderfully in the end.
The characters were, by and large, very fun and quite believable. Some of the mannerisms and speech patterns for some of them were a bit odd, but it just served to make them seem unique.
I loved that the story was seen through the eyes of a main character with autism. This brought a whole new perspective and approach to the situation. And as the mother of a son with autism, I appreciated just how real were Ryan’s many quirks, and how necessary his rules and order were to him. Seeing things from his viewpoint helped explain some of his behaviors and decisions. I especially enjoyed some of the methods that Ryan employed to overcome his more debilitating autistic tendencies. Although I did find many of them to be rathe suspiciously mature for a boy of his age. His most interesting cheat to me was his texting to his best friend Alison when he is unable to use his words to talk.
The thing that I disliked the most about this book, like almost all middle grade and young adult books, was how much Ryan and Alison hide from or neglected to tell his parents. Usually, that is what puts the characters in a position to have the adventures that create the story, but as a parent I find it particularly annoying that many of their problems could be solved by simple communication with responsible adults.
Nonetheless, I found the story delightful and would completely recommend it for middle grade readers on up. The story was self-contained and complete enough that it could be a stand-alone book, but there was definitely a lot of material left unexplored that it could be developed into a series. And I truly hope that the latter is the case!
I received an electronic copy of this book free from Month9Books in exchange for an honest review.