The Emerald Atlas author John Stephens has a Hollywood background, so it’s not surprising that his debut novel feels like a movie in the making, with elements that recall the Harry Potter series and other kid-friendly fantasy epics. It’s to Stephens’ credit, though, that Atlas never comes off like a cash-in or a cheap imitation: It has its own fully realized world and compelling characters, and the familiar aspects of the story serve mainly to place it in an honorable tradition.
The set-up is easily relatable and recognizable: A trio of siblings (Kate, Michael, and Emma) have been left to the fates after the disappearance of their parents, bounced from one comically horrific orphanage to the next. Their latest home, however, is somewhat different: It’s a mystical town that hides some magical secrets, and soon the kids have discovered a mysterious book that transports them back in time. There they face down an evil witch who is holding the town’s residents hostage. Wizards, dwarves, and ancient prophecies all come into play in a story that takes advantage of plenty of well-worn genre tropes.
Narrator Jim Dale handles it all masterfully, with a warm and inviting tone and some highly entertaining voices for the colorful supporting characters. Some of it might be a little too colorful, though, as Dale’s animated voice acting can become a little distracting. Still, he neatly delineates the various players in Stephens’ grand tapestry, and enhances the suspense of the various moments of peril. The book ends, naturally, with the set-up for the next installment of a planned trilogy, but it’s a satisfying enough story on its own. We can only hope for the same for the inevitable movie version. Josh Bell
Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last 10 years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And - if an ancient prophesy is correct - what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
©2011 John Stephens (P)2011 Listening Library
Great to listen to, easy to follow and entertaining. I could pick up the story line every time I came back to this book all in all an enjoyable performance. Thrilling but not scary.
He's excellent. The different character's voices were a bit grating at times. Gotta be in the mood, I guess.
I've already seen Harry Potter and this seems to be a Harry Potter wannabe book.
If this is primarily a children's book, I'd be a bit concerned about evil characters telling children, things to the effect: I'm going to make you watch me torture and kill your siblings/parents/friends. I didn't care enough about the characters to feel emotionally connected or concerned. Maybe I am weird, but no, I didn't like it.
My favorite part of this trilogy is the narration and the cleverness of the writing. There are lots of "jibs" and "jabs" back and forth between characters and I really appreciate the underlying sense of humor. This is a great Trilogy for kids and adults. It's roughly "Harry Potter" level material without quite as much dark evil. I really enjoyed this series and the first book was particularly cute.
Jim Dale is my favorite narrator. I listened to all the Harry Potter books and fell in love with Mr. Dale's masterful rendition of the books. The Emerald Atlas seemed like a rip-off of J. K. Rowling's fantastic books. Very disappointing.
Overall loved the story and the character development. I'm a 52 yrs old fart and was still able to enjoy the story. Just goes to show you, with the right attitude we all can all stay young at heart!!! I will listen to the next two books too!!!
Sure! It was a great story! I don't mind the obvious influences... at all, actually.
I thought it was a gripping and engaging and (sometimes even a little bit of a) scary story and in it's own right too, in spite of being obviously inspired by works of Tolkien, Lewis and Rowling among (I am sure) many others. Honestly It's rather difficult to find fantasy-lit that does not exhibit common traits with, if not the above-mentioned authors then, other authors in the category.
I am looking very much forward to reading/listening to the next two books in the trilogy! :)
I am sure that opinion on Mr. Jim Dale as narrator will be much diverse, but for me he just didn’t fit quite right... For one thing the story is set in America and I was therefore a little distracted by the various British dialects (some almost caricature-ish)... And although he was good at doing the adult voices such as the dwarfs and Dr. Pym, I didn’t feel he got the teenage/kid-dialog... I sensed how a kid might say it and – for me – it was just off...
I am sure Mr Dale would be fantastic at reading Tolkien though!
If I could I probably would have.. alas, life had to be dealt with as well ;)
I really loved this story, which was rightly billed as a new Narnia. The most original and compelling fantasy book I've read in years!
I felt like it was let down by the narration though. The narrator was great at doing different accents, but the differentiation between the three main characters was almost non-existent, and he had a tendency to make them sound extremely whiny. At one point when Michael made a mistake, about 5 people said it and each time the narrator pronounced it "mis-tae-ah-eek" with four syllables. Really irritating. Loved the story though, so I'd recommend buying the book!
A good story is something that makes life feel... enriched by having experienced it.
Jim Dale is a brilliant narrator! !
Very well written story with nonstop action.
Would highly recommend to anyone for a quick read or listen! !
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