Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kid Lit Blog Hop: North of Nowhere, by Liz Kessler




http://youthlitreviews.com/2014/01/07/kid-lit-blog-hop-30/


Title: North of Nowhere, by Liz Kessler, 264 pages.
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2013
Source: Library

Summary:
Mia and her mother rush to the tiny fishing village of Porthaven when word comes that her Grandad has disappeared.  Mia has double reason to be unhappy: not only is she worried about Grandad, but she's missing spring break with her friends back home.  And when she "meets" a girl her own age who seems so much like her, they can't seem to actually meet up.  But Mia's self-pity starts to fall away when things get really weird, and she has to risk everything to save everything.

Review:

It is a tiny bit of a spoiler to say what I'm about to say, so I'm putting the cover image here to keep you from looking if you don't want to.  But I can't review this without talking about it.


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Okay, what I want to say is that this is one of the more interesting and twisted time-travel books I've read, and the author makes great use of the paradoxes of the genre.  The nature of the mystery is only slowly revealed, though this reader had no trouble seeing that time travel is involved, even from the blurb (which is why I'm not too concerned about this being a spoiler).  That's okay, because it's what is done with the time travel that is so gripping.  [Though I believe that the author makes one small anachronistic error, introducing a plastic bag in an era when they were not in common use (I know.  I was alive then.  I remember when plastic shopping bags became common, and I was old enough to make fun of the ridiculous things), the time differences are otherwise handled well and convincingly, and that was the only editorial lapse I noticed.]

The characters are well-drawn, and believable, with 13-year-old Mia displaying a convincing tendency to shift between her own selfish interests and disappointments and a mature desire to help her mother and grandmother however she can.  She mopes over the movies she misses, checks every few minutes to see if a miracle has occurred and she has cell reception after all--but manages to put all that aside when she really has to.  Other characters are less complete, but this is Mia's story, and they feel real enough to be her world.  The story is compelling, moves swiftly, and kept me reading right through to the end.

I was dubious at first (because weird time travel isn't wholly my thing), but Kessler won me over, and I give this one a strong recommendation to anyone who likes slightly off-beat novels with a touch of the fantastic.  Oh, and I love the cover.  Those blues and greens really are my favorites!

Full Disclosure: I checked North of Nowhere out of my library, and received nothing from the author or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed herein are my own and no one else's.


22 comments:

  1. This is a book that I've been hoping to read! Guess I'll have to get to it soon now!

    Thanks!

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    1. I got lucky with the New Book shelf at the library. My favorite place to find cool stuff!

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  2. I can believe this is a good book. We have enjoyed her Mermaid books - but the titles are escaping me now. LOL. Great review. I will look for this one!

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    1. I'll have to check out the mermaid books--I don't think I've seen them, but sounds like something I should at least know about.

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    2. My daughter rolled her eyes when I told her I couldn't remember. "Mom, really, Philippa Fisher and Emily Windsnap!" :)

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    3. LOL! Already good at eye rolls, huh? You are so doomed!

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  3. Sounds like another one for my to-read list.

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    1. If you're like me, the to-read list is long enough that we'd better hope to live a very, very long time. Even so, I suppose it will always grow faster than we can read!

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  4. You took the words right out of my mouth (or keyboard), Steve!

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  5. I was thinking, I'm sure I've read some more Liz Kessler. I have - A Year Without Autumn - also with an interesting take on time travel. I reviewed it in 2012. Must read more of hers :D

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    1. I'll have to check that one out, too, Jemima. Great. As though my list weren't already out of control. But more reading makes me a better writer, so reading is just doing my job, right?

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  6. Well your review won me over, I am totally intrigued, and I do love a bit of timey wimey wibbly wobbliness, ( if you are not a Dr Who Fan then I just lost you I realise). Thanks for another great recommendation on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

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    1. Well, I don't watch the Dr. But I always smile at references to him. I had a friend long ago in my college days who was nuts over the show (I think that was the original show).

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  7. Great recommendation - thanks for sharing it in the Kid Lit Blog Hop! I'm also featuring it in my new (upcoming) Weekly Round-Up of Kid Lit posts!

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  8. This book sounds fantastic! My daughter has read the Emily Windsnap series and likes the author's style. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Thanks so much for the lovely review. I hadn't realised about the plastic bags. Relieved to see that everything else worked just fine! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I remember when plastic bags came into regular use. . . we made fun of them for being so small and flimsy, and never thought they'd catch on. Now my county has banned them (yes, I live in California), and the way people carried on, you'd think they were a basic foundation of civilization!

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  10. Thank you for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop! This sounds like a really cool book--a bit off the beaten path. And I enjoyed the way that you talked about it. I decided to include your review on my January Round-Up.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words and for including me in the Round-up, Destinydawnlong! I am glad you enjoyed my review--I do try hard to make them interesting and fun as well as helpful.

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  11. I love time travel! Especially when it comes about in different ways than we're 'used to'.

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    1. Definitely an imaginative take on time travel, both the method and the outcome!

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