First Lines: Owen wanted to scream at the horror before him. But the sound wouldn’t come and the nightmare only continued, forcing Owen to ask himself, deep down, one question: “Can anyone tell me what three-fourths times two-thirds is?”
This is a book that I, 100%, would not have picked up on my own. I got talking books with a student of mine and he simply asked, “Can you finish a book in two days?” I laughed and said I could. He replied, “I’m bringing in a book for you to read tomorrow.” I thought he’d forget, but he didn’t. And so I felt I owed it to him to read it.
Owen knows better than anyone how boring normal life can be, dealing with chores and homework and horrific math problems. But everything changes the day he sees his classmate Bethany appear out of a book. Bethany is half-fictional and looking for her father, a fictional character who went missing into a book years ago. No one can know Bethany’s secret, so Owen makes her a deal: take him into his favorite book series and he’ll never tell anyone. It’s perfect. Owen can visit Kiel Gnomenfoot and be part his daring adventures and no one will be the wiser…except when things go wrong and suddenly no one is quite where they belong.
Now, this is not my normal read. It’s definitely middle-grade, which is something I have 0 experience with. I don’t even think middle grade was a thing when I was in middle school. So I really wasn’t sure what I’d be getting.
But truly, it was kind of cute. As you can kind of tell from the first lines, it’s witty and sarcastic the whole way through. A couple of characters are well-known for their quips, and I enjoyed that.
The action was a bit different too. There were good twists in it and I liked the premise of actually being able to dive into books and explore. That’s pretty awesome. I wish more stories had a premise like this.
I had a little beef with Owen though. He was kind of an idiot. Like, things he was specifically told not to do, he did. Or he didn’t take dangerous situations as seriously as he should have and bad things happened. Bethany I was cool with. A worry-wart, she was mature and responsible, a nice contrast to Owen’s impulsiveness.
The plot kind of dragged for me. Like, there were parts that were predictable, sure, but there were also moments that felt fake suspenseful. Maybe for a 12-year-old, it wouldn’t. Also, the story eventually has revolving narration between Bethany and Owen, with the chapters switching between them. And that killed the pace for me.
Overall, I’d say that it’s probably not my thing. The plot is ambitious and I think there is definitely an audience for this. I just was not it.