Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don't read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn't around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar. Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world. Twins Abby and Derick Cragbridge are excited as new students to use their famed grandfather's inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins must follow a mysterious trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who they can trust, and discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall. Abby and Derick soon realize they are caught in a race with a fierce adversary to discover their grandfather's greatest secret - a dangerous discovery that could alter both history and reality.
©2013 Chad Morris (P)2013 Shadow Mountain
"A fantastical futuristic read that should engage kids and families." (Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times best-selling author)
The year is 2074 and technological advancements have led to the creation of the most advanced secondary school in the world. Imagine viewing history in real-time with revolving viewpoints, where you control every aspect and are able to watch the most important events unfold in front of you. Imagine a virtual system that allows you to become an avatar and experience the world as an animal. All things are possible at Cragbridge Hall…
Enter the grandchildren of the school’s founder and inventor of these wondrous technologies and this sets an adolescent struggle to prove you belong. But it doesn’t take long before this desire to measure up against one’s peers turns into an adventure in which failure is not an option and failure to measure up could have catastrophic results.
Very entertaining it’s ability to weave history into the adventure and overall a great fun listen for all those young at heart!!! Highly recommend!
Maybe female highschoolers, but even they could use a more entertaining "slice-of-life" story.
Maybe a bit more acting, aside from just emulating the voices. Too many characters sounded like they didn't even care they were in the story, and his tone as a third-person narrator was too monotonous, specially at the first third of the book.
My first thought was Dana Stabenow, though I don't think she ever read anything like this.
I might trim a bit at the beginning, but the book suffers more from lack of content than excess.
Took a couple of hours to get hooked on this. All you get for that time is a whiny, stupid protagonist (Abby) that can't stand up for herself and repeatedly acts unreasonably. For two hours, I was listening to a "slice-of-life" in a futuristic high school from the perspective of a character I wound up never caring for. Between that and the uninspired narration, I was about to return this book. After all that time, I still had no reason to care for the story.
Then the book actually started towards its main plot point, and Abby stopped whining as much. From there to the end, I found just enough to keep me reading. There were some fun moments, but those belonged to Rafael, a brazilian teacher's assistant, and Derek, Abby's twin brother.
In the end, I felt the book was too straightforward. In spite of all the odds, the immense stakes and the extremely rich, powerful and influential enemy, the only things that really stood between the characters and the conclusion were about a dozen henchmen with half a brain and Cragbridge's challenges. The only student against them only mattered for a bad night's sleep and a couple of blushing moments at the beginning of the book, then she disappeared. It felt like the villain barely even tried to win, or, more practically speaking, the author was trying to keep his own job of concluding the book simple.
I won't say I regret listening to the book, but I didn't get much out of it. Since I already got through the first book, I might give the sequel a go on account of it supposedly being centered around the avatars, but not anytime soon.
I am not quite sure what motivated the purchase of this book, it may have been a daily deal, whatever the rationale I can't say it was a disappointing book but it's definitely a written for the young reader. I don't mind this however as I often find myself reading in the young adult section.
This book has a futuristic setting with technology that allows the students at Cragbridge Hall to witness history, kind of a cool concept especially for us history buffs. As with any young adult book there is a villain and hero both of whom are fairly predictable to the mature listener. All that said I found the story overall to be engaging and enjoyable. Who always needs to be serious anyway?
A scene early on in which there is a "roommate" conflict. Without spoilers, it was distressing and unfair social bullying...a great way to generate drama and setup a "Harry vs Malfoy" rivalry...but to me, it was an annoying drama, and the sort of things that would not actually be tolerated.
I'm generally a fan of reading "young adult" books (Harry Potter, Ranger's Apprentice, etc).. But the ones I like are easy to read, and easy to engage in, but not necessarily targeted at kids. This book was targeted at middle school kids. I can see why it's popular, but I didn't personally like it.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
I've always enjoyed reading young adult fiction, which I have always done to keep up with what my daughters are reading. In the best YA books, there is more than enough to keep adults interested -- even children's movies like Toy Story and Shrek had plenty of adult in-jokes to keep me hooked over many viewings when my kids were at that age when they watched those movies over and over again.
Cragbridge Hall seems to have all the requisite qualities to work quite well for its target age group, middle schoolers (hard for me to say definitively because I haven't been in that target age group since the Johnson administration). But it does not have that extra oomph adults need in YA. Harry Potter, among many other qualities that adults can appreciate, has all the mythological and literary references adults would recognize while the kids are dazzled by magic. The Hunger Games has the social subtext, Divergent has the psychological subtext.
This story, which takes place 60 years from now, has some cool technology (rather than magic, which is refreshing) -- mainly (but not solely) a time machine that allows students to relive history (although, for some reason I can't fathom, the historical episodes are almost exclusively American or British from the 19th and early 20th centuries). The main characters must solve a series of clues, most of them quite clever, in order to discover the inventor's secret of the title and save him -- and their parents, and themselves, and the world, of course. And the book does grow on you as it goes along (or at least it did for me).
The bottom line: If you're in middle school, you will most likely enjoy this book. If I was in middle school, I'd give it five stars. But my daughter isn't even in middle school anymore, having just started high school, so I can't even recommend it to her. If you're an adult, read it if your middle school kids are reading it. Otherwise, you may happen to like it anyway, but not because it has any special appeal for adults.
Bottom line up front: This is solid young adult fiction that can be enjoyed by older readers. I can recommend it as I did enjoy the story.
The book does, however, use many of the tools used in the Harry Potter series. Kids separated from the adults, a grandfather figure, magic (in this case very advanced technology), etc. If you can accept this and not let it impede your experience, then you should be able to appreciate the imaginative aspects of this book.
The narrator was well matched to the work and put in a solid performance. This series should find a following in it's target audience, and it deserves to.
funny, exciting, inventions
Carol is easy our favorite character. She is spastic and hilarious, and her constant talking and flirting with "any boy with a pulse" creates great comic relief.
This was a fantastic performance; Kirby Heyborne did a wonderful job adding personality to each actor, and even getting all the accents, but unfortunately, the volume was very poorly leveled, so when Kirby has to shout to get the character's proper tone, the volume is excruciatingly loud. These moments should have been turned down so that the entire reading had a similar volume, while still keeping the tonal changes in the voice.
There are several very moving moments in history described in great detail, and they were great to visualize.
As mentioned in the title, this is a fantastic book, and a great start to a fresh new series. As with any work of literature, there are very common themes found in this story line. An eccentric inventor grandfather, a special school for top tier kids, a girl who feels like an outcast... But these themes are used because they work. There are plenty of unique aspects to this book, and the story is easily different enough that it doesn't feel like a rehash.
Abby and Derick (twins) are the main characters, but most of the story focuses on Abby. Her friend Carol is hilarious and my wife and I frequently found ourselves laughing out loud at Carol's ridiculously fast and random way of speaking.
The Audible narrator, Kirby Heyborne, who is a professional actor, does a fantastic job adding personality to each voice, and even does some pretty good accents. One big problem with the narration was the audio levels, which were all over the place. When characters seemed to be yelling, whether because they were excited, angry, or just to be heard, Kirby would yell. This is fine, as it gets the correct tone of voice across. However, the audio engineer apparently did not do proper volume leveling on the recording, because the volume of the yelling is cringeworthy (to be clear, it is very, very loud).
Aside from that, I have few complaints. Some of the inventions are a bit hard to swallow. For example, robot avatars controlled with your mind that are so incredibly real that they are indistiguishable from the real animal, and their eye cameras are apparently high enough resolution and fidelity that the image feed going back to the controller feels like real eyes. But other inventions are intriguing and realistic enough, like computer rings that connect with contact lens screens and allow typing and other computer functions on-the-go. The flow of time theory used in this fictional universe is a bit different from the more common ones, and maybe not quite as thought out.
All things considered, though, with a young adult target audience, this book really hits the mark. Entertaining, funny, gripping, but not too dark, deep, or otherwise inappropriate for a young audience. Carol's extremely funny flirtatiousness is about as steamy as it gets, so parents, nothing to worry about here. There is an underlying theme of learning from the past, which should be pretty universally upheld. Disasters and trials can bring out the best in humanity, and there is much to learn from history in that regard. Looking forward to reading the next book, and the rest of the series!
In the top 10. I think this would make a good movie.
It grabbed my interest and I couldn't stop listening. Can't wait to get book 2.
It does not have the extensive content of Game of Thrones or Harry Potter, but it is a good easy listening, light read.
The creativity of the characters and the plot and the ties to history.
When Abby and her parents were almost lost.
Light, historical & entertaining
When a character is mauled by a bear in what proves to be a very realistic simulator.
The characters experience with 'driving' the avatar, while climbing into the watchtower.
Almost managed it, an afternoon and the following morning while in the workshop. I actually used this book as a successful sorbet to remove the experience of a less well written and performed novel.
I'll definitely be following the characters in the sequel.
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