Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 25th 2016
Genres: middle grade, fantasy
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New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings us a riveting middle grade fantasy-adventure, perfect for fans of Lisa Graff.
The town of Journey's End may not be at the end of the world, but it sure feels like it to Nolie Stanhope. Spending the summer with her scientist father in the tiny Scottish village isn't exactly Nolie's idea of a good time, but she soon finds a friend: native Journey's Ender Bel McKissick.
While Nolie's father came to Journey's End to study the Boundary--a mysterious fog bank offshore--Bel's family can’t afford to consider it a threat. The McKissick’s livelihood depends on the tourists drawn by legends of a curse. Still, whether you believe in magic or science, going into the Boundary means you'll never come back.
…Unless you do. Albert Etheridge, a boy who disappeared into the Boundary in 1914, suddenly returns--without having aged a day and with no memory of the past hundred years. Then the Boundary starts creeping closer to the town, threatening to consume everyone within.
While Nolie's father wants to have the village evacuated, Bel's parents lead the charge to stay in Journey's End. Meanwhile, Albert and the girls look for ways to stop the encroaching boundary, coming across an ancient Scottish spell that requires magic, a quest, and a sacrifice.
Journey’s End was really cute, and that’s about all I can say. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, it was enjoyable enough, but it didn’t blow me away. I did love the setting though. I felt that the author captured the Scottish Highlands brilliantly.
I wanted more character development. Nolie and Bel’s friendship was sweet, but I never felt like I really knew them. When Al came back, it was much of the same. The characters were very surface. Intelligent children, but they had very little personality to set them apart from each other.
There were also a few plot inconsistencies that I really hope were worked out by the time this book went to print. There is a lot of back and forth between the past and present, three different POVs (one for a very small amount of time), and things got a bit muddled. Al opens the story with the morning he takes a boat into the fog to try and rescue his brother. The fog is moving in but has not yet reached the town, at least not according to what I read. Later on in the book though, Al talks about how buildings were starting to disappear into the fog, and that it had already reached the town. *throws hands up* There just needed to be more explanation. Not sure if that was a plothole or just a lack of exposition, but there needed to be more.
I will say that I really enjoy Rachel Hawkins’ writing. It speaks to me on a person level; it’s a good balance of imagery and storytelling with delightful turns of phrase. This is her first middle grade, and if she intends to stay in this age category for a little bit, I have no doubt that her next book will be better. I just found this one a little boring. The story arc shouldn’t have been weak, and yet it felt a bit repetitive and sort of “one note.” Where was the excitement and drama that a middle grade novel should have?
Anyway, this was sort of enjoyable due to the writing, but I just wanted and expected more from just about everything.