Monday, July 12, 2010

The 13th Reality

Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Aladdin 2008
Secular, Science Fiction
Target audience: Boys and Girls
Reviewer: Lark

Ok. Now that we have all of that boring stuff done we can get down to business.  The 13th Reality is a science fiction novel based in present time. Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. "Tick" is a regular 13 year old boy who lives in Washington State.  One day he receives a mysterious letter and the adventure starts. The letter informs Tick that dangerous, perhaps even deadly, events have been set into motion.  If Tick has the courage to accept the challenge he will receive twelve clues that will reveal on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen. Frightening things will come his way.  New friendships will be formed. New Realities will be discovered. And Tick's life will never be the same again.

Violence Level: Medium-Low
Tick is bullied at school and reacts passively just enduring the abuse.  He is visited on two occasions by scary machines to test his determination to continue. On the first occasion he was hospitalized by the stings of the machine. On the second occasion he escaped without harm.  There is a semi intense battle at the end of the book. A secondary character is attacked and (correctly)assumed to be killed by "fangen", mutant beasts.

Spiritual Content:
There is no mention of God. There is a level of post modern view on self power and control of destiny.  I will address this more in my conclusion.

(The book doesn't call this "magic" but science and a part of quantum physics.)
Tick little sisters throws one of the letters into the fire, which is a signal that he no longer wants to participate in the clues and challenge. He changes that action by the force of his desire. He uses something called "Chi Karda" which is, and I quote from the book, "The mysterious force that controls quantum physics. It is the scientific embodiment of conviction and choice, which in reality rules the universe. It is responsible for creating the different Realities".  Tick has a special, and unknown, ability to channel the Chi Karda in a strong way and to use it's power to change the past and visit the other Realities (parallel universes).

Drugs and Alcohol:
Reference to being as clumsy as a "one-legged drunk".

Sexual Content:

Crude or profane language:
There is some mild name calling mostly by the bad lady, Mistress Jane. Things like "blubbering fool", "moronic stack of soiled snow". She has child servants that she has named "Nitwit" and "Nincompoop".

Positive Elements:
Tick's family relationships were very positive. Both parents are active in his life. The dad is not a wimpy spineless male character. He is kind and active in Tick's life. His father is always there for him. There is friendly teasing between Tick and his sisters with genuine affection shown.  Tick faces fear and chooses bravery and heroic acts.

Negative Elements:
He lies at first about the letters.   Bulling at school, with him being locked into a locker and given a swirly type treatment.  Semi gruesome fight scene during the battle with the "fangen".

In my opinion.....
Surprising myself, I really enjoyed this book.  It was well paced and filled with likable and real characters. The bad guy.... er, girl, was not too intense. I appreciated the bond Tick had with his father.  Once he told his father all about the letters and the challenges his dad encouraged him to do the right and brave thing, but was there to keep him safe.  It was refreshing to read a book with healthy parental figures and a lack of sibling disharmony. I was slightly bothered with the "you can change destiny" message that ran throughout the last half of the book. The explanation given was that quantum physics is the science that studies the physical world of the extremely small. Most scholars are baffled by its properties and at a loss to explain them.  Theories abound.  Only a few know the truth: that a completely different power rules this realm, which in turn rules the universe" Chi'karda." This is the first book in the series and I look forward to reviewing the sequel. I think this book is a good fit for kids 11-14 unless they are extremely sensitive to the intensity of the battle at the end of the book. I will share my views of what controls the universe with my boys.

My Verdict? Yes, I would let them read this book.