Author: Ryan OBrien
Publication Date: February 25th, 2012
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: ARC from Author
Summary (from the Author): An adopted Michael Henry yearned for some excitement in his life. Away from his friends, in a new neighborhood and school, he discovers the adventures of a lifetime as he learns of a portal with access to The Land of Whoo. On the other side of the portal, the secrets of Michael Henry's past and future will be revealed to him, but first he must prove himself worthy as he faces the challenges of the Five Trials to take his rightful place as the Chosen One. Can he help his grandfather, King Titus, take back his kingdom from the Dark Wizard and Master Uror? What powers does the Medallion hold?
The Land of Whoo is a good middle grade fiction, not too far from ideas we find within The Chronicles of Narnia. The Land of Whoo reminded me a lot of Oz. I felt like this book was a contemporary of several books many of us in our mid-twenties and beyond grew up with. The book moves quickly and the plot sets pace within the first chapter, enchanting us with the mystery of Whoo and what it holds for our hero and heroine. I found it interesting how OBrien incorporated real-life situations that the main characters were faced with outside of the fantasy aspect of the story. This gives readers something to relate to and I found that to be in the author's favor.
The Land of Whoo is also a positive read that I would feel comfortable having my preteen (or more likely grade schooler) explore, as the characters are likable and OBrien purposefully adds characteristics that our children may aspire to see as role models.
I do have to say, it's really strange to start seeing books where people are texting, but I suppose I have to be open to straying from tradition since this seems to be slowly seeping into our literature! Sigh. I guess we couldn't be lost in Jane Austen's era forever. I will miss you dearly, Mr. Darcy.
On technicality, I felt like there were almost too many descriptives. They kind of counteracted each other whereas they made the story more realistic, but were almost unnecessary. There were also times I felt like the flow of writing was almost taken down too much for middle grades. It seemed more like something I would read while I was in 4th or 5th grade, like The American Girl books or The Babysitters Club. The narrative and dialogue were along those lines. Sometimes it made the consistency of reading difficult.
There is also a second installment continuing the adventures of Michael Henry, The Land of Coral Seas, which I will also be reviewing in the near future, so if you're into middle grade literature, keep a wary eye out!
And automatic 5 bonus points awarded to authors who sign their books :)