Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Island of Dr. Libris

The Island of Dr. Libris. Chris Grabenstein. 2015. Random House. 242 pages. [Source: Review copy]

At times I loved it. At times I just almost loved it. Weeks from now, I'm not sure which feeling will be the one that lasts. I'll start with what I enjoyed most. Billy, the hero, is quite special. (Of course, he is.) When he reads books in the summer cabin, odd things happen on a nearby island, the island of Dr. Libris. He doesn't believe what he's hearing, and, sometimes seeing. So he takes a row boat to investigate the situation, and, indeed it seems true enough upon further investigation. The characters in the books he reads are coming to life on the island. When he visits the island, he interacts with fictional characters, and those characters interact with each other too. For better or worse. Since most of the books he's reading are packed with action and danger and good guys and bad guys, well, visiting the island comes with some risks. Billy doesn't automatically know how to solve these problems, it will take some thinking and some teamwork perhaps. Billy teams up with a not-quite-as-special kid, Walter, and things get even more exciting. At some point, Pollyanna gets read...and she starts interacting with everyone. (Some of these scenes made me laugh.)

What didn't I love? Well, the premise was interesting enough. But the dialogue didn't wow me. Bringing all these characters--from all these different genres--to life and making it REALLY work, making it believable, would take some great dialogue. I'd describe the dialogue as more fair to average than great. I just never got swept up in the story in a giddy-making way. The characters felt like weak, weak copies of their originals. And while it was fun to see which books got read, it wasn't quite as magical as I was hoping. Also, Dr. Libris himself remains shadow-y and flat.

Still, I enjoyed elements of this one. A book doesn't have to be the best book ever in order to be an enjoyable book.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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