Book 1: Storybound
Categorization: Middle grade, adventure, chosen one, magical school, mystery
Length: 403 pages
What this story has to offer you:
Great world building
Young female protagonist
Magical world & school
High stakes mystery
This middle grade adventure series draws in readers of all ages for an exciting ride, and wraps up in only two books. Una Fairchild lives in our world, and feels very much alone. She keeps to herself, often seeking sanctuary in the books she reads. That is until the day she finds a book with her name on it. Then she is transported to a magical world.
The first people Una meets upon entering this strange new world is a boy named Peter and a girl named Snow, both of which are in training to become storybook characters. And Una happens to be interrupting their very important school exam. What Una comes to learn is that there are actually two parallel worlds.
The one she came from being "The Land of the Readers" and the one she finds herself in now being "The Land of Story", which she has been "Written Into".
Peter, the young boy who hopes to become a storybook hero is the perfect person for Una to befriend, as he feels it is his duty to keep the damsel in distress safe. He is sympathetic of her situation and vows to protect her. Even if that means risking his own life. As it turns out, being "Written In" is not a good thing at all. In fact, the last known people to have been "Written In" were killed.
The writing hooked me from page one. The world building and exposition flow naturally along with the adventure as Una and Peter try to unravel the mystery of why Una was written in, and by whom. Marissa Burt's use of language is simplistic and beautiful, making her storytelling effortless for readers of all ages.
I read some reviews from individuals who thought this book was too difficult for its demographic, but I disagree. There is nothing wrong with having multiple perspectives in a children's book! Kids are smart! Also, have you ever spoken to a child about a topic they enjoy? They know every single detail about it. So provided that the child enjoys the story, I think this book would be wonderfully comprehensive for them.
I really liked that in this story, you get to know more characters than just Peter and Una, who are identified as being "the good guys." We also get to see the bad guys in action. And! Not all the viewpoint characters are children. You also get to know some of the adults in this world (teachers and parents). This simple factor makes the world of Story feel more complete.
All of the characters are sympathetic and complex, whether they be on the side of 'the good guys' or 'the bad guys.' Each one of them has a fleshed out backstory and something at stake in this game.
As mentioned, the stakes are high from the very start as you realize that Una is in danger of being killed for her status as a WI. Yet, she does not let that stop her from trying to figure out what is really going on. During their search, these kids uncover a huge political controversy and an evil master plot. This is where the world building really impressed me. What is "really going on" is both convoluted and deceptive enough to have confused the masses, yet easy enough for a young girl who asks the right questions to unravel. This resulted in a completely immersive reading experience for me ^.^
Ultimately, the characters of Story are looking for their hero. Some believe the deception that they have already found him, some plan to become it them self, and some believe in the return of a long lost hero. But the answer of what is true and right for Story does not come until book 2.
Book 2: Story's End
Categorization:Middle grade, hero adventure, dark/gritty, war, mystery
Length: 416 pages
In the second book in the duology we open up with a tad bit of angst, but not enough to become off putting. Una goes through a lot in the first book, and she must deal with the repercussions of her actions in this second book.
The focus in this second book is more evenly split between the different viewpoint characters. But the overall theme is what it means to become a hero. The struggle involved, the disappointment, the sacrifice, and also, the places and people in which you can find strength. There is the use of dark magic and gritty fight scenes, making this second novel overall much darker than the first. There is a lot of action and ultimately the war that has been brewing needs to happen. The Land of Story will either be doomed or saved.