Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Middle-Grade Review: The Gate of Days

I’m a sucker for time-travel stories. My favorite books and movies all have a time travel theme, so I knew I’d love The Gate of Days (Scholastic) by Guillaume Prévost, the sequel to The Book of Time, which I read last year. My 14-year old son, Jamie, enjoyed both books, too.

The central character of this exciting and fast-paced time-travel series is Sam Faulkner, a 14-year old boy who lives in Canada. As the first book opens, Sam’s father has been missing for ten days, and Sam is staying with his grandparents. When Sam pokes around his Dad’s house, he discovers a strange stone statue in the basement that heats up when he places a coin in it and touches it:

When Sam was finally able to raise his head, he nearly fainted. He wasn’t in the storage room anymore. He wasn’t anywhere he knew. A rocky beach with a thin strip of sand and a vast sea stretched away in the distance, and he seemed to be halfway up a wild outcropping of rocks and thick grass. What had happened to him? And what had happened to his clothes? Instead of his jeans and T-shirt, he was now wearing a sweat-soaked long shirt that covered his arms and legs, and itched as well. And what about his burns? He could still feel the sting of the fire that had consumed him when he’d touched the stone, and yet his skin was miraculously whole, as smooth as a baby’s. As if it had all been nothing but a dream.

Both books are quick reads, filled with lots of action and vivid descriptions of the exotic places and times that Sam visits as he searches for his Dad. His twelve-year old cousin, Lily, helps him, as he tries to stay clear of his aunt, who thinks he’s a bad influence on Lily.

The suspenseful plot keeps you turning pages way past bedtime, with well-drawn characters and exciting and varied settings. The only problem is that, like its predecessor, The Gate of Days ends with a major cliff-hanger, and now Jamie and I have to wait for Book 3 to find out what happens next!

249 pages
Reading Level = 5.7
Arthur A. Levine Books (a Scholastic imprint)

NOTE: Book 3, The Golden Circle, will be released on September 1, 2009.

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