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.
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