The world of Atherton consists of three distinct, interconnected lands stacked atop each other like a layer cake. At the top are the Highlands, home to Atherton's rich and oppressive ruling class; the middle layer is the Flatlands, populated by Atherton's subservient working class; the bottom layer is The Wastelands where none dare venture, for the few that have done so have never been heard from again. When the three worlds inexplicably begin to collapse into each other, and the Highlands and Flatlands prepare for war, it may well be young, insatiably curious Edgar who holds the key to Atherton's survival. With soft, well-articulated vocalizations, Davis portrays a wide range of characters here, and his intimate delivery proves perfect for pulling the listener into the heart of this complex fantasy. The augmentation of his performance with strategically placed music and sound effects only serves to enhance his storytelling. Ages 8-up. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Edgar knows that in his world of Atherton, the Highlands above are forbidden and the Flatlands below are a wasteland. Yet he repeatedly climbs the walls between Tabletop and the Highlands. People think that he does it to annoy his employer, Mr. Ratikan, who controls access to water on Tabletop as it flows from above. Edgar, however, seeks a treasure in the rocky cliff wall. When mysterious earthquakes transform the landscape around his home and bring him closer to the Highlands, Edgar finds what he has been searching for. With this discovery comes a new friend, pasty bibliophile Samuel, as well as new enemies. Scheming Highlanders Lord Phineus and Sir Emerik will stop at nothing to maintain the hierarchy between the levels and keep the truth about the earthquakes hidden. As Edgar's world continues to change, he learns the frightening history of Atherton's existence. This first of three novels provides a compelling read for science fiction/fantasy aficionados and those who know the author's previous series, Land of Elyon. The novel's short, abruptly ending sections will keep many a reader up nights for "just one more chapter." Drawings interspersed throughout the text document the multilayered world, and appendixes illuminate its mysterious history. The publishers plan an interactive experience for the reader between the book and its tie-in Web site including audio/video clips. Carman includes frequent quotations from Shelley's Frankenstein; expect increased circulation of this classic as readers become engrossed in Carman's new saga.
This first book in the series starts out reading like a pastoral fantasy set on a fig farm where children and adults labor side by side to handle the trees and reap the harvest. The farm is on Tabletop, which is bordered by a rising cliff on one side and a drop-off on the other. Edgar vaguely remembers his deceased father telling him that he had placed something in the cliffs for his son. The boy teaches himself to climb up there even though it is forbidden. When he finds the book his father left him on the cliff face, he knows that he must travel all the way to the Highlands above to have someone read it to him. But the world is getting more treacherous as the ground itself begins to rumble, shift, and change. The book that Edgar has holds the secrets of their entire world and its changing future. Despite the setting, this novel is actually not a fantasy but rather pure science fiction where a manufactured world created by a madman is throwing the inhabitants' lives into turmoil. It is a fast-paced novel with a unique setting, fascinating plot, and cliff-hanger ending. It shines because of the author's imagination and skill. The characterizations of even the secondary figures are skillfully done, which makes the world all the more vivid and believable.
Tasha SaeckerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The world is Atherton; the inhabitants are human; the government is dystopian-a standard science fiction/fantasy formula. But there is more than that. Carman's complex plot frequently surprises even though he plants hints galore and indulges in a judicious amount of foreshadowing. Epigraphs from Shelley's Frankenstein introduce each of the novel's sections, along with snatches of dialogue-bits and pieces that hint that Atherton may be more than it appears to be-a world with three levels: a lush highland, an arid middle plateau and a seemingly sterile lowlands. The child characters-orphaned hero Edgar and his two friends Samuel and Isabel-are well-developed, while the "evil" lords are more stereotypical, living in the Highlands and ruling Tabletop's denizens by terror, pushing them into rebellion. As the story unfolds, Edgar discovers how Atherton was created and where it is located. Black-and-white illustrations add facts about the world and its ecology. A humdinger of a cliff-hanger will leave even reluctant readers demanding more, and soon. (Science fiction. 9-12)First printing of 150,000