Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Book Source: Advance Copy from CBAY Books
Dex took another deep breath and climbed down onto the ladder. The first step was fine, but he heard an ominous creak when he put his foot on the second run. The ladder pulled the slightest bit away from the wall, causing his heart to drop into his stomach. Holding perfectly still, Dex considered how wise this little mission was. Then he decided he didn't care. He lowered his other foot and the ladder seemed to hold. Slowly, he descended into the blackness below.
The Book of Nonsense, by David Michael Slater
The Book of Nonsense is the first volume of a new series, Sacred Books, geared towards young adults.
The Readers-Digest-Version Synopsis:
Thirteen year-old twins Daphna and Dex are in a heap of trouble. Their father, a rare book scout, has come across a magic book - seemingly full of nonsense - that someone else wants very, very much to own. Bad enough to employ long-forgotten magical tricks to obtain the book. Bad enough to hurt one twin and enslave the other to obtain the book. To save their family, the world at large and each other, Daphna and Dex must decipher hidden meanings and seek out the past to thwart the evil people who want to use the Book of Nonsense to rule the world.
The Literary Criticism:
I'll admit to being petty and having a problem with the protagonist's name, Daphna. For the first three chapters, every time I read her name I thought it was a typo since the name is so close to Daphne.
The author did an excellent job of jumping right into the action in the first paragraph -- almost too good because there was little to no backstory and this led to a bit of confusion as I tried to figure out who was who and what certain acronyms stood for. Like the name Daphna, though, this critique was small potatoes.
The main characters were very well written and fleshed out. I was impressed with the author's ability to do this in a relatively short period of time. Both Daphna and Dex were sympathetic teenagers with their fair share of teenage concerns. They aren't portrayed as perfect and that is something people of all ages can identify with. The bad guys, on the other hand, are clearly evil and I appreciate the distinction. For the 10-13 year-old crowd, I don't know that evil in shades of gray would have been appropriate. The author clearly knows his audience!
If you love old books, book collecting, or magic then you'll be delighted with this book. While you shouldn't expect it to be the next Harry Potter series, it is a bit more mature than, say, A Series of Unfortunate Events. I fully expect author David Michael Slater to really come into his own as the series progresses and the next book in the series, due out in Fall 2009, will likely be anticipated by the young adult crowd (and me, too).
As for an age recommendation -- 10 to 13 years would be just about perfect. There's a bit of violence, although not graphic, that might make it unsuitable for any ages younger than that. As for the adults - give this one a look, you will likely enjoy what you see.
Title: The Book of Nonsense, Sacred Books Volume I
Author: David Michael Slater
Publisher: Blooming Tree Books/CBAY
Date: October 14, 2008
Additional reviews can be found at:
Bobbi's Book Nook
Cheryl's Book Nook
Sharon Loves Books and Cats
Go here to read an interview with the author at Into the Wardrobe.