Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review: The Riverman

Title: The Riverman
Author: Aaron Starmer
Series: The Riverman Trilogy #1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Source: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

"To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here's mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger."

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.

This book left me unsure how I should feel about it. It wasn't what I expected, then it was, then it wasn't again and now I don't even know anymore. 

Here's what I do know:

This book has a bit of a retro feel. It's set in 1989, so I don't know if that counts as historical fiction or just retro. Either way, these were the days of floppy disks and duct taping a walkman to the handlebars of your bike.

I really wanted to know what was going on! Stramer had my attention and curiousity the entire way through. What was going on with Fiona? What was Aquavania? Who was the Riverman?

That book was dark for a middle grade. Maybe I'm just wimpy. But there were some pretty major themes going on for middle grade reader. Like missing children and child abuse.

I didn't like part of the ending. It was unnecessary and sad (probably).

Here's what I don't know:

What the heck happened with the ending!?! This book had one of those vague, I'm just going to leave you with unanswered questions. Like I actually turned the page to keep reading and all of a sudden he was thanking all the people. But what happened to Fiona? And Alistair? And Kyle? And Charlie? So many questions. I feel like I used to enjoy these vague endings, but currently I just feel a bit confused and deflated.

How I feel. I just don't know. I enjoyed most of the book, but the ending threw me sideways and now I just don't know.  I'm certainly harbouring some resentment.

EDIT: While looking at this one on Amazon, I realized it's part of the Riverman Trilogy. I thought it was a stand-alone and  I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Find the Book:
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

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  1. Hmm.... I want to know the ending to this one! It sounds intriguing but I would be so mad if the author just leaves us hanging. Hopefully the next book will have more answers!
    Bethzaida @ Bookittyblog

  2. I don't read much middle grade ones, but hmmm, yeah that seems a little dark for it. And sounds confusing, and I mean, since it's a MG, it's not meant to be confusing, right? :S Though, I like the retro-ness, but yeah, I wouldn't say it was historical, I was born 3 years after it and that makes me feel old, haha.

  3. Glad you enjoyed up until the crazy making sounding ending.

  4. I am also currently trying to write a review for a book that I am unsure how I felt about it (Death Sworn). It's tough to write reviews for books like those... I thought if I gave myself more time to think about it, then I could form a better review later, but now I think I'm even more confused about my thoughts! Ultimately though, I don't think it says good things about these books that we are struggling with our thoughts - confusion is no fun!

  5. Ha man it's so weird to think of the 80s as historical it makes me feel so old! >.< Not sure I'd like this one though the vagueness would likely annoy me and it sounds like you don't get much clarity even with the ending. Great review, love!

  6. Omg, 1989 is not historical. Now I'm going to cry. lol.

    Hmm, this certainly sounds interesting, but maybe not quite for me.