"THE 13TH REALITY, Book 4: The Voice of Mist and Thunder," by James Dashner, Shadow Mountain, $19.99, 404 pages (f) (ages 8-11)
Articus "Tick" Higgenbottom is a lot like Harry Potter except he's not technically a magician. Also, instead of being raised by unkind relatives — as Potter famously was — Higgenbottom has loving parents bringing him up. He also lives in the real world — at least in the reality he's used to.
Higgenbottom is exceptionally smart. He's willing to walk bravely (or naively) into the unknown and unwilling to let a mystery go.
He's also unaware of his great destiny.
And his choices seem to have been made for him once he opened that first strange letter from Master George.
He's carried along on a sort of fantasy ride, a ride that author James Dashner has created in a series of novels that entertain as well as intrigue as they're full of little puzzles and riddles.
In "The 13th Reality, Book 4: The Void of Mist and Thunder," the fourth and final book in the series, the battle rages on with Mistress Jane, Reginald Chu and Tick forced to join each other in an effort to save the realities.
As the story progresses, nothing seems to follow the rules as realities split and meld and turn everything upside-down. Nothing is constant except maybe noise and confusion and danger.
Tick wields the great power of Chi'karda (that he has to learn to harness) but keeps ending up in dire situations. He soldiers on and on, trying to right things until at the end ... well, that's for the reader to see.
His mother, revealed earlier to be considerably more than a simple housewife, tries to help as both a valuable member of the Realitants and as a smart lady.
His friends — Sato, Sofia, Paul, Mothball, Rutger and Master George — rally to the rescue.
His enemies help, even if it's to further their own twisted agendas. It says something to the power of teamwork and, in the end, addresses doing good that brings good.
Here's a story jam packed with action and images and monsters and possibilities that could only come out of the mind of a clever author.
It's a mind-boggling book and credit goes to Dashner for inventive dilemmas even if they seem to just keep coming and coming. No one gets any real rest, even the reader.
"The Void of Mist and Thunder" contains plenty of adventure and lots of scary stuff, but there's nothing objectionable in terms of sexual content, language or excessive violence. The bad guys are mostly creatures with no brains.
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