Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Librarian: Little Boy Lost (Eric Hobbs)

Librarian: Little Boy Lost
(The Librarian series, Book 1)
Eric Hobbs
Amazon Digital Services
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: The school trip to the historic Astoria library - a building so ancient that nobody knew just when it had been built - started on a bad note for Wesley when Randy, the class bully, stole his extra-credit essay... the one he was going to enter in the contest hosted by the old librarian. All his life, Wesley's been picked on and bullied by Randy and his cronies, only finding escape in books. Worse, he knows that the town has reversed the building's historical status, preparing to raze the block. Just to rub salt in the wounds of the day, Randy wins the essay contest... with Wesley's stolen paper. Everything's going wrong - with the city, with his life.
Why can't he just disappear into a storybook... forever?
Inside this old building, that wish isn't as outlandish as it sounds. Wesley and his best friend Taylor discover a strange boy hiding in the aisles... a boy who claims he stepped out of Neverland. Many secrets hide in the Astoria library, many worlds waiting to be explored. But every world, for all its wonders, contains great dangers - dangers that pull Wesley and Taylor into an adventure worthy of a storybook, fleeing a man so evil only the real world could have created him.
(A Kindle exclusive title.)

REVIEW: I wanted to like this book. Built on a decent - if not entirely original - premise, I can't say nothing happened. Unfortunately, it leans on stock characters and simplified situations, with an awkward writing style that kept throwing me out of the story. ("Little did they suspect..." and "If only they'd seen..." paragraphs, as chapter enders, read like amateur attempts to build tension.) Several moments had me rolling my eyes, with people acting stupidly or deliberately ignoring things because the author needed them to at the time. Eventually, Wesley learns a lesson, delivered with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to his skull... but not before setting in motion events that lead to the book's cliffhanger, to be resolved (presumably) in Book 2. In the end, there just isn't much originality here, in the characters or the plot execution, despite occasional glimmers of promise. I've definitely read worse, and it was a free download for Kindle, so I probably shouldn't be too picky.
(I also have to say that I lost a little respect for the author when I read, on his Amazon page, how he backed down and redacted some mild cursing after a few complaints. They're middle-schoolers. Middle-schoolers are known to swear... especially in situations as traumatic as those experienced by Wesley and his companions. Do kids this age still need their world bubble-wrapped and whitewashed? But I digress...)

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