Reading Level: Middle Grade
Length: 349 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: May 6, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in The Door Within series
Source: Swapped through Paperbackswap.com
Rating: 1/5 stars
“Aidan Thomas is miserable. Within two weeks, Aidan’s life is completely uprooted as his parents move the family across the country to care for his ailing grandfather. The quiet but imaginative Aidan is struggling with attending a new school and fitting in with a new group of friends. But when he begins having nightmares and eerie events occur around his neighborhood, Aidan finds himself drawn to his grandfather’s basement―where he discovers three ancient scrolls and a mysterious invitation to another world.
No longer confined to the realm of his own imagination, Aidan embarks on an adventure where he discovers a long-fought war between good and evil. With the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance, Aidan faces Paragory, the eternal enemy with unfathomable power. Will Aidan be willing to risk everything and trust the unseen hand of the one true King?”
I got this book quite a while ago when I was looking for some good middle grade fantasy adventure to read and saw the very high reviews for this trilogy. This was not a book for me. For those who aren’t aware (as I was not) Batson is a Christian author who publishes books with strong Christian themes to them. In general I don’t have issue with that but this book was incredibly poorly written and written at a very basic reading level (short sentences and simple words). It’s like it was written for small children but then deals with the subject of war, evil, and faith. It’s too violent for small children and too simply written for middle grade readers.
When I started the book I thought it was okay. There’s some creative ideas in here but in general it’s a pretty basic and overdone story for the fantasy genre. The plot was this…unhappy boy finds a way into a fantasy world where he becomes a great knight and saves the day. Then suddenly finds himself back home but is a better person for his adventures. Yawn….read that plot a million times before.
The difference is that in the magical world of Alleble Aiden becomes a Knight to the one true King (do you smell religion here?). The one true King will provide for his followers in times of need even though he has no clear form. He also values kindness over violence and if you (for example) lay down your sword in front of an enemy instead of attack them everything will go your way because the one true King is all knowing and sees you and helps you. There is a lot of preachiness about faith in the one true power throughout the book which always bothers me because it allows characters to fall back on The King and his power rather than allow them to empower themselves.
Okay preachiness aside let’s talk Aiden’s character for a second. Aiden is an incredibly whiny and selfish middle aged child. His parents move to help take care of his ailing Grandpa and all he can do is whine and complain. Yes, kids complain but in general if raised properly kids are also smart, helpful, and caring…they are not one dimensional people. I don’t know how Aiden’s parents managed to raise such a selfish brat, but my 10 year old son is a lot more understanding and helpful than Aiden ever is. In fact most kids I have dealt with are.
Okay next the story. When Aiden gets to Alleble he is immediately in trouble only to be saved by cute fuzzy creatures and a dragon; I was down with that, it’s a fun start to the story. Then he ends up joining with the King’s Knights and starts his training as a knight because The King knows Aiden is destined for great things. Within a week Aiden (who is described as overweight, out of shape and lazy earlier in the book) is able to best some of the grown-up knights with his sword skill. Ummm….what? That makes no sense. Way to show kids that you can be lazy slobs and then if The King believes in you you suddenly become a kick-butt hero…I guess it is a fantasy.
The story pretty much goes downhill from there. There is a woman knight named Gwenne, who of course is the only knight to be kidnapped and in need of rescue after her womanly tenderness gets her caught by the enemy while rescuing a child. She was the only woman character in the whole book. Definitely no good female role models here….
Overall this was an absolutely awful book. From the overly simplistic jerky writing and the predictable plot to the preachy tones and poor excuse for a hero. Faith is overly preached and there are no good adult or female role models. It was a awful struggle me to finish this very basic easy-to-read book. This is awful. I would recommend staying far away from this book.
If you are looking for an amazing middle grade fantasy check out the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson series, the Ranger’s Apprentice series, the Unwanteds series, the Map to Everywhere series, the Wings of Fire series, the Saavy series, the Magesterium series, or any number of wonderful Middle Grade fantasy series out there.