Sunday 20 November 2016

BOOK REVIEW - In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey by Maria Evan and Max Evan

In the Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey
Author: Maria Evan and Max Evan
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publication Date: July 3rd, 2016

Book Description:
This book is about the adventures of the boy named Christopher, the girl named Sophia and retriever Duke. By chance they found themselves in a balloon, that took them into a fairyland, where mysterious events happen.

Children wanted to find the way home. The heroes had to solve a lot of mysteries.They learned interesting ways of time measuring and found a time machine.

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When a travelling circus rolls into town, young Christopher is eagerly excited to see the show, but his mum refuses to let him go on the account that he's been poorly. This, however, doesn't stop Christopher from sneaking out of the house and heading to the circus. There, he meets a young girl by the name of Sophia, who, like Christopher, also happens to be without a ticket. Together, they sneak into the show but are soon caught and find themselves on the run. The two youngsters take refuge in a basket, which turns out to be a hot air balloon. The kids, however, are not alone. Inside the hot air balloon, they discover a golden retriever by the name of Duke. But Duke's no ordinary dog. He's a circus dog who can talk. To avoid being caught, the kids and the dog take off in the hot air balloon. They soon happen upon a strange land and quickly realise they are no longer in their world. How do they get back home?

This book was very entertaining. It was full of non-stop action and adventure. I found myself thoroughly curious throughout, wondering what the kids would discover and how they were going to find their way home. There are some interesting scientific insights thrown around here and there that I made me ask numeorus questions, which was very fun. It was certainly food for thought.

What I liked as much as the adventure were the characters. They were so quirky and humorous with very unusual names. While I adored Christopher and Sophie, I have to say my favourite character was Temporus Certus, natural experimenter and professor of the 'Knowledge of Ignorance' faculty at the university of Knowitall. What a character. Just brilliant. Temporus reminded me of Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies - not altogether there but a clever nut all the same. It's with Temporus's help, Christopher and Sophia find out that their visit to this mysterious land wasn't as unexpected as they'd initially thought. It turns out they're part of a prophecy. I would have liked the characters to have more depth as I'm not a fan of two dimensional characters, but with the fast pace and the focus of the story being to get Christopher and Sophia home, I didn't mind the lack of character development.

I have to say, Christopher and Sophia appeared very astute for their young age, and as much as it was nice to see young characters with such intuition, it often appeared as though it was implemented purely for the purpose of insighting the readers as opposed to showing the characters' intelligence as oftentimes the characters didn't explain how they came to certain conclusions. It just didn't seem as natural as it would have been had the characters mused over their findings and had things been better explained, or just explained, period.

The lack of explanation of certain things was one of the main problems for me. The transition between Christopher's and Sophia's world and the mystical world they happened upon wasn't very clear. The air balloon flight I understood but the actual transition wasn't explained. I suppose the sundial might have been more than just an ordinary sundial, but again, there was no explanation to suggest a connection. It appears the kids triggered something when they attempted to use the sundial but this trigger occurred after they had entered this land and not prior to it, so it still doesn't explain how they happened upon this realm.

There were other things I found distracted me from the story, not a great deal, but they were things I couldn't ignore. For instance, the authors often referred to the characters by their names, Christopher and Sophia, and at other times, they referred to them as the boy and the girl, as though we're not familiar with them. It got confusing at times. I had to remind myself that it was still Christopher and Sophia they were referring to. I noticed some head-hopping going on. It wasn't too distracting, but I did notice it. At times, there was no direct connection between cause and effect. I don't mind having to come to conclusions myself but there needed to be better connections between events to allow me to form links and not think of things just occurring without cause. I had many questions but couldn't find any clues that could point me in the right direction. Why is there a problem with the passage of time in this realm? It's such an intriguing idea but the transitions could have been better.

I found some of language somewhat too sophisticated for the target audience. It didn't seem as though they were the characters' words but rather the authors' words. What I found myself pondering a lot was the purpose of Christopher's and Sophia's journey. As you read the book, more about the prophecy is revealed, a revelation of which could suggest that the sole purpose for their journey was to escort Duke home. He is a talking dog after all. Again, with not much explanation or indication, all one can do is surmise. I would have liked a little more worldbuilding - it was an interesting world with much to see - and perhaps giving Christopher and Sophia a defined purpose for their being in this new world would have made the story more satisfying.

Despite all the problems I found with the story, I still found it a joy to read. This is the first book I've read in a very long time that has conjured up childhood memories. I felt like a child again while reading it, a rarity for me. I loved the illustrations. I wasn't expecting them so it was a nice surprise. The story has some good morals and themes and were it not for the issues I found, it would have been a home run for me. I highly recommend it. This is a tale for the whole family.



Award: Silver
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Source: Review copy via author

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