Captain Jack’s first novel

Hollow Earth by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman

Okay, think Inkheart, but less developed characters and a more simplistic writing style. Then add in dash of Harry Potter and something slightly like A Series Unfortunate Events and you’ve more or less got this book.

Honestly, I did mostly pick this book up because John Barrowman wrote it and I’m a nerd. I’m sure I’d have done the exact same thing if it’d been written by anyone else who’d ever been on Doctor Who. Whatever. And it’s totally a first novel so I understand there’s a lot of room to improve. I’m also totally a snob, so a lot of the things about it that I didn’t really love probably won’t bug children at all.

It was a good story. That’s mostly what I have to say about it.

Em and Matt are twins, and when they work on a drawing together, they can bring it to life. Their mother has done her best to keep her children  away from the power struggles going on in the magical/art community but when the twins take a huge risk and draw in public events are set in motion that will… I don’t know… be epic, end in Scotland and break their family apart.

This is why I’ll never have a career in writing blurbs on the back of books.

I suppose the things that didn’t quite do it for me are mostly small ones. The characterization seemed a little weak. I mean, I was pretty fond of the characters but they didn’t have a lot to offer as far as complexity goes. Matt is more or less a courageous hero who is angry and impulsive. Em is more or less brave, loyal and perpetually frightened. One of the grownups is the wise one. The other is the protector. The other is the gruff but kind one. Another one is the traitor. The last one is the suspicious but ultimately heart of gold guardian. They’re good, they’re just tropes.

Similarly, the story is pretty generic. Standard coming into their powers story. Complete with kids breaking the rules a little, getting in trouble, adults hiding important information from them and a mysterious missing parent.

I did enjoy it though, even if it didn’t totally fill my unreasonably high expectations. One of my favourite things was the easy way they handled Zach, the third child in the trinity of children’s fiction. The neat thing about him is that he’s deaf. And it’s kind of handled in an very easy way. Every once in a while his lip reading skills come in handy or they mention that a character doesn’t sign, but other than that there’s virtually nothing about it. I mean, obviously I think it’s a little problematic that the character doesn’t really deal with it and that it’s kind of a character trait but on the other hand I love that Zach isn’t defined by his deafness. He’s totally just a kid like the others. He is not his disability, and that’s fantastic. Also not always something that comes across well in fiction,  particularly in stories that aren’t about the experience.

So that was pretty awesome. I also adored the way Em animates her fears and dreams and the lovely relationship between the twins and Zach was totally worth it. I would probably recommend it to middle reading level kids who enjoyed Harry Potter and were just looking for a good story to rip through.

Last movie I watched: Probably still the Hobbit.

Last TV episode I watched: Last episode of Young Justice season one. Highlight: Robin fighting Batman. Love those two so much

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