Gr 4–6—The second installment of the series, in which regular kid Owen meets Bethany, a half-fictional girl who can travel into and out of books, starts out with a bang and an explosion. Owen and Kiel, who's a fictional character from Owen's favorite series, wake up inside of a mystery—Owen's least favorite genre. Bethany is nowhere to be found, though a strange kid in a Sherlock Holmes hat claims that she is in great danger if Owen and Kiel can't figure out the mystery of where she is and why. Unfortunately, the pair face several problems: Kiel has lost his magical powers, the mysterious kid has blown up the library, the police are after Owen, and neither of them can remember anything that happened before they woke up. Owen has to face his worst fears and courageously save his friends in this lively sequel that will keep even the most reluctant readers on the edge of their seats. VERDICT A must-buy where there are fans of the first book.—Terry Ann Lawler, Burton Barr Library, Phoenix
Owen Conners’s whole life changed the day he found out his classmate Bethany was half-fictional, and could take him into any book in the library. Which story would they jump into next? Another fantasy, like the Kiel Gnomenfoot, Magic Thief books? Maybe something with superheroes? Owen’s up for anything except mysteries—those just have too many hidden clues, twists that make no sense, and an ending you never see coming.
Then Owen wakes up in a real-life mystery with a memory that’s been erased and too many questions. How did Kiel Gnomenfoot lose all of his magic? Where is Bethany? And who’s the annoying guy wearing the question mark mask and Sherlock Holmes hat, taunting Owen and Kiel that Bethany is in grave danger?
Bethany is trapped in a hidden room that’s slowly filling with water, and she can’t escape until her friends find her. But is she imprisoned by more than just chains and a locked door? What’s she hiding from Owen and Kiel?
Maybe some mysteries just shouldn’t be solved...
Please note: The black bars in the first nine chapters are intended.
A fictional character's megalomaniacal scheme to insert himself into every novel ever written precipitates a merry chase through meta-realms in this brain-cracking sequel. Following nine pages that are blacked out except for a few tantalizing words, putative protagonist Owen ("nonfictional" dweeb) and Kiel Gnomenfoot (cocky hero of a popular fantasy series) start off Chapter 10 in a burning library. With no memory of recent events, they are informed by masked nemesis Doyle Holmes (fictional descendant of Sherlock) that their bestie Bethany (half-fictional and able to travel at will between books and the "real world") will be permanently out of the picture in two hours. Things skid toward further catastrophe in a whirl of captures, rescues, cliffhangers, flashbacks and point-of-view switches, redacted and renumbered chapters, oblique digs at "real" novels, conflicting motives, and hackneyed literary tropes—many of which are subverted by the characters themselves on the way to a dizzying round of climactic twists. What with cameos and ongoing plotlines, readers are well-advised to keep the previous volume to hand for reference. By the end, Bethany and Owen, having demonstrated laudable quantities of guts and wits, swear off book-diving forever. Fat chance, as the author, in his alter ego as "nobody," emerges into view to start the next episode (and dramatize the acknowledgements). Likely to leave more than a few punctures in even the most levelheaded reader's sense of reality. (Metafictional fantasy. 10-13)
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The Stolen Chapters