The Parallel Place by Cheryl Skory Suma
Genres: Middle Grade; Fantasy; Adventure
Middle Grade Fiction can really be a breath of fresh air. It's generally cleaner, lighter, and more innocent than what you get from the Young Adult or Adult genres. I don't read enough of it.
That's what The Parallel Place was for me--a breath of fresh air. It was very different from what I'm used to reading, and I enjoyed that.
The story begins with Melissa, Michael, and Annabelle caught up in another world--a mystical land known as Habitan, and a place that felt like more of a home than their dreary orphanage ever did. Here they discover things they never could have dreamed of--talking animals, magical powers....and family.
But not all is as perfect as it first seems to be. For their aunt, a powerful sorceress and self-proclaimed queen of Habitan, will not stand by and let them take her throne. She, Oskana, will stop at nothing to get rid of this new threat--three young children with powers of their own.
I thought Melissa; Michael; and Annabelle, all 10-13 years old, were spunky protagonists. In fact, I loved much of the characters and especially that they were so diverse. They all had their own quirks and personality traits. However, I do think that the children sometimes came across as older than their true ages and that the author could have gone more in depth with their personalities.
I think the reason that sometimes the characters seemed more flat and less well-rounded was the lack of showing. All writers have heard the admonition: Show, don't tell. We were informed of the personalities of the characters and we were told why things happened, rather than having these things revealed to us. Although The Parallel Place was a fun story, I was never completely captivated by it for this reason.
Another thing that kind of put me off was the lack of suspense. Notice that I used the word suspense, not action. There was plenty of action, and at the start of each new problem, I was excited to see how it would turn out. But each problem seemed to be resolved in the blink of an eye. There was no sweating, no worrying about how things will turn out, because everything was solved so easily before a new problem presented itself.
I'll admit, I can be a nitpicky reader. I still think this book could be enjoyed by younger readers. It wasn't at all bad. The idea was wonderful, and many parts had me smiling. If you like MG fiction with elements of magic(I thought the talking animals were a plus, by the way) you might enjoy this book.
On a closing note, I really admire the author for the reasons she wrote this book. Because they loved her stories, her kids asked her to write them a longer one. So she did. She even named two of the main characters after them and included her 12-year-old daughter's illustrations(which are lovely!). I think that's the sweetest thing. And how fun for her children!
**I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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