REVIEW: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

REVIEW: The Journal of Curious Letters by James DashnerThe Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner
Published: Shadow Mountain (2008), Hardcover, 432pg
Source: Library
Genres: Adventure, Fiction

What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created--the life that would've been? What if those new Realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?

Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is a regular thirteen-year-old boy living a regular life until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials "M.G.," the letter informs Tick that dangerous--perhaps even deadly--events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal that on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, and something extraordinary will happen.

Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? As M.G. warns Tick, very frightening things are coming your way. Will you join Tick and his friends on an amazing journey through the Realities? What will your choice be? (from Goodreads)

I’m a sucker for books that incorporate puzzles and codes and such, so I was expecting to at least enjoy reading The Journal of Curious Letters. I did, kinda. I liked the beginning! But the second half was…not so good.

I like the first half of the book. It had some problems, but it was fun trying to figure out the riddles and getting to know the characters. There were some problems with the author trying to convince me that M.G. was funny– literally saying something like “THAT M.G. IS SO FUNNY ISN’T HE? ISN’T HE?!” Uh, yeah. He wasn’t. His jokes were horrible! And that was when I actually recognized that they were jokes; most of the time I didn’t get it until Tick laughed or something. But, besides that, the first half was pretty good. I kept reading it, after all!

Unfortunately the second half of the book was not so enjoyable. The abrupt switch from slow build-up of mystery (and riddles) to big fight/action scene plus a massive switch in scenery, plus some rather suspicious explanations for why the 13th world is “evil” (and why the villain is a villain, and why the goodies must fight her, etc) made the whole thing unsatisfying. It was jolting!

Also, it’s just my own preference, really, but I don’t like it when parents but into their kids’ adventures for more than a scene or two. I always want to see the kid grow up and evolve (or whatever) on their own– it seems more poignant having them do stuff on their own than having their parent prop them up, y’know? Also, deep parental involvement comes off a lot of times as cheesy to me, like an 80’s sitcom. It’s just a small niggle, but it niggled me nonetheless. (Maybe I’m just not a family person, and so I automatically reject anything containing that sort of thing? Am I projecting? Eh, maybe not. Kitchen-loving mom got on my nerves, too. It’s too perfect!)

So, yeah. Not exactly what I was hoping for. It’s part of a series, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the others; I don’t like explanation for evil to consist of “it’s evil because it isn’t good,” and the writing wasn’t really my flavor. Wow, this is a downer of a review.

Read: April 2009

0 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner”

  1. Hey, I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for giving my book a shot. I’m so sorry you didn’t like it! I promise Book 2 is much, much better – I’ll even send you a copy if you’d like since I doubt you wanna buy it after this review! 🙂 Shoot me an email.

    Maybe my older teen book will be more your cup of tea. It’s called The Maze Runner and is a lead title for Random House (Delacorte) this Fall. Much darker and scarier. With this blog, you may be able to get an ARC from them.

    Thanks again. I welcome honesty!

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