Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review: The Future Door by Jason Lethcoe (No Place Like Holmes #2)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Mostly fun story with an interesting mix of steampunk and Holmes
Cons: Weak ending
The Bottom Line
Has a weak ending
That will bother most adults
But kids will not mind

Heading Through The Future Door?  The Trip Isn't as Good as the First

During the autumn, I stumbled on a book that combined steam punk with Sherlock Holmes and aimed it at kids.  While I had some issues with the writing, I still enjoyed the book overall and made sure to get The Future Door, the second in the series.  I found the ending to this one a letdown.

These books follow the adventures of hyper observant Griffin Sharpe and his uncle Rupert.  Rupert just happens to be the neighbor of Sherlock Holmes.  So yes, the books are set over 100 years ago in London, which I like since I enjoy historical fiction.  The steam punk/science fiction element plays a bigger role this time around, and I was enjoying that, too, until the end.

It’s hard to talk about the plot without spoiling too much from book one or any of the twists to this one.  This book picks up right after the cliffhanger from the first book as Griffin and Rupert quickly sail to Boston to try to resolve the news they got in a telegraph.  But an attempt on their lives and a huge surprise leads them to think that the real danger may be back in England.  Is there a dangerous plot afoot there?

After the brief part in Boston, the action takes place back in England.  The story moves forward quickly, and while I was occasionally one or two steps ahead of the characters, I was still enjoying it.  After all, I am older than the target audience of late elementary schoolers.

None of the characters are developed beyond a few basic traits.  I find that’s often the case in kid’s books, so I wasn’t bothered by that too much.  I do feel that some effort was made to develop Griffin and Rupert as a result of what they experienced in the first book, which I did appreciate. Griffin’s Christian faith is still a big part of who he is and how he tries to live his life.

My issue with the last book was with the writing, and it holds true here. Griffin has a habit of counting things around him when he’s nervous, and the author shares those with us.  A few times it’s fun, but I quickly grow tired of it.  Additionally, the author over explains what characters are thinking or feeling and why.

Both of those issues are minor over all, and I was thinking this book was going to get a solid four star rating until I got to the end.  While I didn’t hate it, I was disappointed by it.  It felt like the author wrote himself into a corner and then cheated a little to get his way out of it.  It’s not a complete cheat, but it’s certainly not the strongest ending.  It probably bothered me more than it would kids; after all these are more adventure than strictly mystery stories.

So I still recommend this book for the target audience.  I just don’t think that adults will find The Future Door as much fun as they did the first book about Griffin and Rupert.

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