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Troubletwisters by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
Review by Meagen Voss
Scholastic Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545258975
Date: 01 May 2011 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Garth Nix's Website / Sean Williams' Website / Show Official Info /

Start with two innocent children who are living relatively normal lives, add in a sudden unexplained explosion that levels the family home, a kooky grandmother, and a villain that takes creepy-crawly to a whole new level, and you have Garth Nix and Sean Williams' Troubletwisters. Because it’s geared towards elementary schoolers, this book will not be very satisfying for adults. But it’s still a good choice for kids.

Like most children in fantasy stories, Jack and Jaide Shield were just two average kids. Then a series of unfortunate events leads to the destruction of their home, and the children are forced to relocate to a seaside town called Portland to live with their mysterious Grandma X. Things only get stranger in Portland. Between talking cats, magic doors, and bizarre encounters with white-eyed vermin that chase the twins all over town, Jack and Jaide can barely keep all the weirdness straight. And with Grandma X’s persistent denial about these strange occurrences, the twins are forced to fend for themselves against an evil being that is hunting them.

This book is standard fantasy adventure fare for children; which means that despite the evil creature constantly lurking in the darkness, the adults in the story either don’t believe the children or they are withholding information until the children are "ready" for it. Unhelpful adults are a great element in kid's stories because it gives the kids in the story a chance to figure things out on their own, but in this book, the authors waited a little too long to explain things. Many young readers will likely get as impatient as the twins do in the story waiting for an explanation. However, Nix and Williams provide a swath of battle scenes against the twins’ unrelenting—and thoroughly disgusting—enemy that could engage a young reader’s interest until they reach the point where "all is revealed".

Just because this book is for kids, doesn’t mean that Nix and Williams craft a tame story. In the tradition of Neil Gaiman's Coraline and The Graveyard Book, the authors came up with a nasty villain that would give most adults nightmares (though the thing’s name is guaranteed to make adults roll their eyes). And there isn’t a ton of blood and guts, but there’s enough that parents may want to read the book before giving it to real young kids.

When comes to creating a story that both kids and adults would enjoy, Troubletwisters definitely falls short. Still, there are many kids that would enjoy this story, and with an ending that pretty guarantees a sequel, kids will be able to look forward to more adventures from Jack and Jaide for years to come.

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