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The Journal of Curious Letters (13th Reality Series #1)

The Journal of Curious Letters (13th Reality Series #1)

4.6 76
by James Dashner, Bryan Beus (Illustrator)

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What if every choice you made created an alternate reality? In The Journal of Curious Letters, Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is an average thirteen-year-old boy until the day he receives a strange letter informing him that dangerous— perhaps even deadly—events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. Tick


What if every choice you made created an alternate reality? In The Journal of Curious Letters, Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is an average thirteen-year-old boy until the day he receives a strange letter informing him that dangerous— perhaps even deadly—events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. Tick will be sent twelve riddles that, when solved, will reveal the time and place of an extraordinary happening. Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues and discover the life he was meant to live? Tick’s journey continues in The Hunt for Dark Infinity! Mistress Jane and the Chi karda are back. Tick and Mistress Jane race to find the deadly Dark Infinity weapon. But who will destroy it—and who will become its master?

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

Atticus Higginbottom (Tick) is relatively happy, even though he wishes that he were a little braver or could make the bullies disappear. Then he gets a mysterious letter that begins a strange adventure into alternate realities. According to the letter, he and hundreds of other young people around the world have a choice: save the world by solving a puzzle or burn the letter and go on with their lives as usual. The 13-year-old is sure that it's a hoax, but once he begins getting the other clues from strange visitors, he is determined to figure out the puzzle. This book had great potential. The beginning of the adventure starts with a bang, but by the middle of the story things begin to drag. The immediacy gets lost in the daily struggle to figure out the riddles and the unending descriptions of Tick's life as he awaits the next one. Suddenly, he receives multiple clues at once and the fight to save the world occurs at bewildering speed. The conclusion is open-ended, indicating a sequel. Stronger choices of books with similar ideas of alternate realities include D. J. MacHale's "Pendragon" series (S & S) or Michael Lawrence's "Withern Rise" trilogy (HarperCollins).-Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
A boy . . . a mysterious letter . . . twelve clues . . . a girl . . . a dad . . . two very strange strangers. These are just the basic ingredients in this adventure served up by Dashner in what is the start of a series that will capture the imagination of young and old alike. Atticus Higginbottom (Tick to all who know him) is smart, well-adjusted and something of a loner at school, preferring his family, the library and the Internet to his classmates. So he's surprised to receive a letter postmarked in Macadamia, Alaska, from someone he's never even heard of. But he's intrigued and makes a commitment to join with his correspondent to "save many lives." Though there are chunks of text that are overwritten, the telling is generally laced with a strong sense of humor and a sure hand at plot; the author is plainly in tune with today's fan base. Let the adventure begin! (Science fiction. 10-12)
From the Publisher
"Sure to thrill." -- Brandon Mull, author of Fablehaven

Product Details

Shadow Mountain Publishing
Publication date:
13th Reality Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.41(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt



Norbert Johnson had never met such strange people in all of his life, much less two on the same day — within the same hour even. Odd. Very odd indeed.

Norbert, with his scraggly gray hair and his rumpled gray pants and his wrinkly gray shirt, had worked at the post office in Macadamia, Alaska, for twenty-three years, seven months, twelve days, and — he looked at his watch — just a hair short of four hours. In those long, cold, lonesome years he'd met just about every type of human being you could imagine. Nice people and mean people. Ugly people and pretty people. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, cops. Crazies and convicts. Old hags and young whippersnappers. Oh, and lots of celebrities, too.

Why, if you believed his highfalutin stories (which most people quit doing about twenty-three years, seven months, twelve days, and three hours ago), you'd think he'd met every movie and music star in America. Though exactly why these famous folks were up in Alaska dropping off mail was anybody's guess, so it may have been a slight exaggeration of the truth.

But today's visitors were different, and Norbert knew he'd have to convince the town that this time he was telling the truth and nothing but the truth. Something scary was afoot in Macadamia.

The first stranger, a man, entered the small, cramped post office at precisely 11:15 A.M., quickly shutting the door against the blustery wind and swirling snowflakes. In doing so, he almost dropped a cardboard box full of letters clutched in his white-knuckled hands.

He was a short, anxious-looking person, shuffling his feet and twitching his nose, with a balding red scalp and round spectacles perched on his ruddy, puffy face. He wore a regal black suit: all pinstripes and silk and gold cuff links.

When the man plopped the box of letters onto the post office counter with a loud flump, a cloud of dust billowed out; Norbert coughed for several seconds. Then, to top everything off, the stranger spoke with a heavy English accent like he'd just walked out of a Bill Shakespeare play.

"Good day, sir," he said, the faintest attempt at a smile creasing his face into something that looked like pain. "I do hope you would be so kind as to offer me some assistance in an important matter." He pulled a lace-edged handkerchief from within the dark recesses of his fancy suit and wiped his brow, beads of sweat having formed there despite the arctic temperatures outside. It was, after all, the middle of November.

"Yessir," Norbert answered, ready to fulfill his duty as Postal Worker Number Three. "Mighty glad to help."

The man pointed outside. "Simply dreadful, isn't it?"

Norbert looked through the frosted glass of the front door, but saw only the snow-swept streets and a few pedestrians bundled up and hurrying to get out of the cold. "What's dreadful, sir?"

The man huffed. "By the Wand, man, this place, this place!" He put away his hanky and folded his arms, exaggerating a shiver up and down his body. "How can you chaps stand it — the bitter cold, the short daylight, the biting wind?"

Norbert laughed. "I take it you're just a-visiting?"

"Visiting?" The sharply dressed man barked something between a laugh and a snort. "There'll be no visiting from me, my good man. The instant these letters are off, I'll be heading back to the ocean. The very instant, I assure you."

The ocean? Norbert eyed the man, a little offended by the stranger's dislike of the only town where Norbert had ever set foot. "Well, sir, how long you been here?"

"How long?" The man looked at his golden pocket watch. "How long? Approximately seven minutes, I'd say, and that's far too long already. I'm, er, eager to be on my way, if you don't mind." He scratched his flaky red scalp. "Which reminds me — is there a cemetery closer than the one down by the frozen riverside?"

"A cemetery?"

"Yes, yes, a cemetery. You know, where they bury poor chaps with unbeating hearts?" When Norbert only stared, the man sighed. "Oh, never mind."

Norbert remembered hearing the word befuddled once on television. He had never been quite sure what it meant, but something told him it explained exactly how he felt at that moment. He scratched his chin, squinting at the odd little man. "Sir, may I ask your name?"

"No, you may not, Mister Postman. But if you must call me something, you may call me Master George."

"Alrighty then," Norbert said, his tone wary. "Uh, Master George, you're a-telling me you just arrived here in Macadamia seven minutes ago?"

"That's right. Please — "

Norbert ignored him. "And you're a-telling me you come all this way just to mail these here letters, and then you're a-going to up and leave again?"

"Egads, yes!" Master George squeezed his hands together and rocked back and forth on his heels. "That is, if you'd be so kind as to..." He motioned to the box of letters, raising his thin eyebrows.

Norbert shook his head. "Well, how'd you get here?"

"By...er, plane, if you must know. Now, really, why so many questions?"

"You got yourself your own plane?"

Master George slammed his hand against the counter. "Yes! Is this a post office or a trial by jury? Now, please, I'm in a great hurry!"

Norbert whistled through his teeth, not taking his eyes off Master George as he slid the box closer to him. Then, reluctantly, Norbert looked down, a little worried the stranger might disappear once they broke eye contact.

The box was filled to the rim with hundreds of envelopes, yellowed and crumpled like they'd been trampled by a herd of buffalo, the addresses scrawled across the wrinkly paper in messy blue ink. Each frumpy envelope also bore a unique stamp — some of which looked to be rare and worth serious money: an Amelia Earhart, a Yankee Stadium, a Wright Brothers.

Norbert looked back up at the man. "So, you flew in your own plane to the middle of Alaska in the middle of November to deliver these letters...and then you're heading back home?"

"Yes, and I'll be sure to tell Scotland Yard that if they're in need of a detective to ring you straight away. Now, good sir, is there anything else I have to do? I want to make absolutely sure there will be no problem in the delivery of these letters."

Norbert shrugged, then shuffled through the stack of envelopes, verifying they all had stamps and proper addresses. The letters were destined to go everywhere from Maine to California, from France to South Africa. Japan. China. Mexico. They were headed all over the world. And by the looks of it, the man had estimated the required postage to perfection.

"Well, I'll have to weigh each one and type the location into the computer, but they look all right to me on first glance. You wantin' to stick around while I check them all?"

Master George slipped a fat wallet out of his jacket pocket. "Oh, I assure you the necessary postage is there, but I must be certain. Here." He pulled out several hundred-dollar bills and placed them on the counter. "If you find that additional postage is required, this should be more than sufficient to pay in full. Consider the rest as a tip for your valuable service."

Norbert swallowed the huge lump in his throat. "Uh, sir, I can tell you right now it won't take nearly that much. Not even close."

"Well, then, I will return home feeling very satisfied indeed." He squinted at Norbert's name tag before tipping his head in a formal bow. "I bid you farewell, Norbert, and wish you the very best."

And with that, Master George slipped back out into the frigid air.

Norbert had a sneaking suspicion he'd never see the man again.


Norbert had just placed the box of odd letters on a shelf under the front desk when an even stranger character than the finely appareled English gentleman stepped into the quiet post office. When the woman walked in the door, Norbert's mouth dropped open.

She wore nothing but yellow — her floor-length dress, her heavy overcoat, her pointy-toed shoes, her tightly fitted gloves. She pushed back the hood of her coat, revealing a bald head that shone as bright as a chrome ball, a pair of horn-rimmed glasses perched on her steep ridge of a nose, and eyes the color of burning emeralds.

She looked like a lemon that had been turned into an evil sorceress; Norbert surprised himself when he chuckled out loud before she said a word. By the way her eyes narrowed into green laser points, Norbert figured that wasn't the smartest thing he'd done in a while.

"Something funny, mailman?" she asked, her voice soft and seductive, yet somehow filled with a subtle hint of warning. Unlike Master George, she had no accent Norbert recognized — she could've been from any city in Alaska. Well, except for the fact that she looked like a walking banana.

After a long moment with no response, she continued, "You'll find that Mistress Jane doesn't react kindly to those who mock her."

"Um," Norbert stuttered. "Uh, who...who is Mistress Jane?" As soon as he said it, he knew he must sound like an idiot.

"Me, you blubbering fool. Are you daft?"

"No, ma'am, I can hear just fine."

"Not deaf, you moronic stack of soiled snow, daft — daft. Oh, never mind." She took a step closer, placing her gloved hands on the counter right in front of Norbert. Her eyes seemed to have tracking beams focused on his own, pulling his gaze into a trance. "Now listen to me, mailman, and listen to me well. Understand?"

Norbert tried to utter agreement, but managed only a small squeak. He nodded instead.

"Good." She straightened and folded her arms. "I'm looking for a little stuff-bucket of a man — red-faced, ugly, more annoying than a ravenous mouse in a cheese factory. I know he came here just minutes ago, but I don't know if I'm in the correct Reality. Have you seen him?"

Norbert called upon every ounce of willpower in his feeble little body to hold his face still, hiding all expression. He forced his eyes to focus on the Lemon Lady's bald head and to not let them wander to the box of letters on the shelf at his feet. He didn't have a single clue what was going on with these two strangers, but every instinct told him Master George equaled good, Mistress Jane equaled bald — he blinked — uh, bad.

What does she mean about being in the correct reality, anyway? Norbert marveled that two such interesting people could enter his tiny post office within a half hour of each other.

"Polar bear got your tongue — ?" Mistress Jane asked with a sneer, glancing down at his name badge. "Norbie? Anybody in there?"

Norbert ignored his racing heart and simply said, "No."

"No what?" the yellow woman snapped. "No, you're not in there, or no, the man I'm looking for didn't come here?"

"Ma'am, you're my first customer of the day, and no, I've a-never seen any such person as you described in my life."

Mistress Jane frowned, held a finger up to her chin. "Do you know what Mistress Jane does with liars, Norbie?"

"I'm not a-lying, ma'am," Norbert answered, trying his best to look calm. He didn't like fibbing to such a scary woman — and crossing his fingers under the counter wouldn't amount to a hill of beans if she found out — but somehow he just knew that if this evil lady wanted to stop Master George from doing whatever he was trying to do, then those letters needed to get in the mail, no matter what. And it was all up to Norbert Johnson.

The lady looked away as if lost in deep thought over what she should do next. "I know he's up to something," she whispered, barely audible and not really speaking to Norbert anymore. "But which Reality...I don't have time to look in them all..."

"Miss Jane?" Norbert asked. "May I — "

"It's Mistress Jane, you Alaskan ice head."

"Oh, uh, I'm awfully sorry — I just wanted to know if there's any postal service you'll be a-needing today."

The nasty woman looked at him for a long time, saying nothing. Finally, "If you're lying to me, I'll find out and I'll come back for you, Norbie." She reached into the pocket of her overcoat, fidgeting with something hidden and heavy. "And you won't like the consequences, I can promise you that."

"No, ma'am, I'm sure — "

Before he could finish his sentence, though, the last and by far most bizarre thing of the day occurred.

Mistress Jane disappeared.

She vanished — into thin air, as they say. Poof, like a magic trick. One second there, the next second gone.

Norbert stared at the empty space on the other side of the counter, knowing he needed a much stronger word than befuddled to explain how he felt now. Finally, shaking his head, he reached down and grabbed the box containing Master George's letters.

"These are going out tonight," he said, though no one was in the room to hear him.

Text copyright © 2008 by James Dashner

Meet the Author

James Dashner was born and raised in a small town in Georgia. His love of books and writing made him dream of being an author someday, and he still can’t believe his dream has come true. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, the Infinity Ring series, and the 13th Reality series. Visit him online at JamesDashner.com.

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Journal of Curious Letters 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took me a while to read,but it was worth it! If you can't decide if you should get it or not my advice is try the sample first then you would know what I mean by intresting. This book is great for people 8 and up. I warn you it not one of those baby books with pictures on every page,with three words on every page,and it is definitly not one of those books that reads it's self to you.So if your looking for an intresting novel this is exactly what you looking for.
lovefantasybooks More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of fantasy books but some of them are too childish, too full of romance or simply not interesting. But this whole series is! Its very well written, you get to know the characters well and the plot unfolds nicely. I'm not going to write an overview cuz there's already one available but let me just say its worth the read. I'm a fan of the Harry Potter series and the Magyk series and these books are just as captivating. Read them. You won't regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book rocks! Everyone must read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. I recommend reading it if you like fantasy.
book_lover123 More than 1 year ago
YOU MUST READ THIS SERIES! I was searching the library and stumbled on this book, so I tried it out. Even though I don't like sic-fi, I  instantly fell in love with this book. It was so good, I stayed up until 4 Am reading it. Then I woke up a 7Am to  continue reading this book. I did get lost a few times, but it was still a great book. If you want to read the series  don't skip any of the books.I loved the whole entire series. It is definatly worth buying! click yes if you agree! ;) 
doglvr More than 1 year ago
"The 13th Reality Book 1: The Journal Of Curious Letters" by James Dashner is a great book and I loved it! Even though the book started a little slow, it was full of action and mystery. The setting in this book is Washington state. The main character lives in Deer Park. It takes place in the modern day, which makes it much easier to understand. There are a lot of characters in this story. There is the main character, Atticus Higginbottom (Tick) and his dad Edgar Higginbottom. You also meet M.G. (Master George) who is the person who started the chain of events that led to the main conflict. Then there are Mothball and Rutger, friends of M.G. who Tick meets along the way of solving the mystery of the "curious letters." Through email, Tick meets Sofia and Paul, who have also received the letters, and they help each other. All of those people are on the good side, but what's a story without a villain, right? Mistress Jane is the enemy of M.G. who wants to take over the Realities. Her henchman, Frazier Gunn, tries to stop Tick from stopping Mistress Jane from taking over. There are two main conflicts in this story. One is that Tick has to solve the riddles in the letters that he gets from M.G. so he can save peoples lives. The second conflict is that Tick and his new friends and partners have to stop Mistress Jane from taking over the Realities. They will battle hideous creatures and show their bravery. If they fail, it will be the end of the world as we know it. So like I said, I loved "The 13th Reality Book 1: The Journal Of Curious Letters" by James Dashner. And as you can probably tell, it is full of action and mystery, because you're going on the adventure along with Tick and his friends. Keep in mind that this is only book one, so look out for "The 13th Reality Book 2: The Hunt For Dark Infinity.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Can you solve the mystery?

James Dashner's first story in his new THE 13TH REALITY series, THE JOURNAL OF CURIOUS LETTERS, revolves mainly around a young boy named Atticus (or "Tick" as he likes to be called).

Tick's adventure begins when he arrives home to find a cryptic letter giving him riddles on something that is supposedly going to save the lives of people around him. Intrigued, he begins his investigation, and, gaining a few friends along the way, tries to dismantle the riddles given to him in a series of thirteen letters.

With quirky characters and an engaging, humorous plot, Mr. Dashner also manages to include a little about Quantum physics that will hopefully cause the reader to question further.

The best thing about the book is that although it is magic, it incorporates reality effectively, which makes it more believable. Which, in turn, makes it easier to lose yourself within the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking on the shelf for a book to read when I saw this fat book sitting next to 4 other fat books. I pulled the one out that had the number 1 slapped down on the spine of the book. I looked at the cover and my eyes went straight to where the authors name was in big bold letters and said to myself this is going to be the best book ever. It was written by my favorite author in the whole world. James Dashner the one that wrote the Maze Runner, ya that guy. I can already tell you that this is one of the best books written in history! I thought thought that this book was going to be about some mission about letters. I was sort of right when I guessed just by looking at the cover. Well ok I didn’t just know that it was exactly that I got a little hint from the title of this book The Journal Of Curious Letters. After reading this book I wanted to start reading the second book right away.  I'm sure you're bored of me lecturing this book and you want to know a little bit more of who is in the book and more of what the setting is. But I promise not to tell you the end or the super good exciting parts of this book you will have to read it to find out. In this book the main character is Atticus Higginbottom. When Atticus starts receiving these strange letters from someone he doesn’t know even exists it starts getting super interesting. Some of the other cool characters are Mothball, the Gnat Rat, Mistress Jane, Master George,  and Atticus’s family. There are four different parts of the story. Some reasons why I loved this book was because I never got bored and I was glued to it for more than a week. If you read this book I’m am 99.9 percent positive that you are also going to love it. Don’t let that one percent bring you down for not reading it. I recommend that you read this book right away. It will calm you down when something is stressing you out and it will give you something to think about. I feel that this book should be read from ages 10 and up. Even you adults out their may need an adventure to go on one in a while. I would rate this book five jumbo stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book!!!!!
-VaNeSsA- More than 1 year ago
I LOVE THIS BOOK! i spent all night reading it, could NOT put it down. it is very absorbing. when you read it, the writer always leaves you guessing, and you're thriving to read more. amazing. on to book two!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So if i approved your answer you are here now good job!!!!!but it is not over here is your next question. Do you think brocoli look like miini trees. Sorry i like food.i know its a silly but tell me. Next clue is in the book dangerous waters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
     When I was looking for a book, a friend suggested “The 13 Reality.” I looked at the cover and thought it would be boring. Boy was I wrong. It was really exiting and cliffhanging.  In this fantasy novel, someone is trying to destroy the whole universe bit by bit so she could try and make it her way.   Kids from all over the world are asked to help save the universe by someone name Master George. Out of billions of kids, only for kids chose to help, Tick, Sofia, and Paul. On their adventures they almost die. Believe me you have to read this book that’s written by James Dasher.   I liked this book because it was a mystery and adventure type of book. It was so good it was addicting. I just couldn’t stop reading. I read it every chance I got.   You have to read this book. You should be a least 7+ to read it. It has some scary parts in it. It also has some big words in it.   On a scale from 1-5, with 5 being the best I’d say it be a 4 ¾.   Headline: Can 4 kids save the universe?  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I love the kingdom keepers series, will i like this? I saw the book and thought it looked interesting... PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should read this book because it is one of thouse books that has a boring title but are really good books well hope you will read it soon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Dashner is my favorite author by far, but this time, he out did himself. This book is so amazing and it only gets better throughout the series. This series is highly regarded by myself, and Mr. Dashner has earned it. Well done
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is about clues, different realities
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like mystery, adventure, and a little action all wrapped up in one, then it's a great read! I recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a great YA book. I reccomend it to al young readers. But some of it did sound familiar. I liked it. I think every one should read it at least once in their life. But the ages are 11+
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read the beggining of this book I thought it would be boring.But as you read into the book you don't ever want to put it down.It starts with Norbert Jhonson,Master George,and Mistress Jane.Read forward to find out who the mysterious letter writer is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago