The Journal of Curious Letters (Book One of The 13th Reality Series) by James Dashner
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (March 3, 2008)
I recently received an email from Brandon Mull, author of the wonderful Fablehaven series, recommending The 13th Reality books while we wait on the the spring release of Fablehaven #4. I imediately requested a review copy and received it in less than a week. From the moment I started reading The Journal of Curious Letters (#1 of The 13th Relity), I could not put it down!
The story is about 13 year old Atticus Higgenbottom (who prefers to be called Tick), an intelligent boy who who lives with his parents and two sisters in the state of Washington. Tick enjoys chess, science, math and going to the library, but as a result he is often the target of teasing and bullying at school.
Tick starts to receive mysterious letters from all over the world - the first one is postmarked from Alaska - with clues in them. According to the first letter, Tick will be receiving 12 clues which will enable him to save many people. He is warned that the clues will be challenging and the mission "deathly dangerous" to the current reality. Each clue contains a riddle which must be solved by a certain date in order to complete this dangerous mission.
During the time he is receiving the clues, Tick befriends internet pals Sophia - from Italy - and Paul - from California - who are also receiving the clues. We also get to meet two of the strangest characters I've read in a long time: Mothball - a tall, lanky lady who is almost 8 feet tall - and Rutger - a man who is extremely short and squatty.
Will the children figure out the clues sent from the mysterious Master George? Will they be able to save many lives? What will happen if the children fail? Will they learn the meaning of the 13th Reality?
I loved the idea of this book and it allows young readers to work along with Tick in solving the mysterious 12 clues. I also enjoyed the fact that Tick has a great relationship with his family, and in the middle of his investigation, he finally tells his father about the clues and they work together to solve them.
I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this wonderful new series. I think middle school age children will love this book, and even younger children will love having parents read this book to them. This is not only a book for enjoyment reading, but it helps children use their thinking skills while trying to solve the clues. I think James Dashner has a hit series on his hands and I hope children are clamoring for his books for a long time to come.
**This is a book series I will be recommending to the children's library at the Mercer County Public Library in Kentucky.**