Mar 7, 2012

Audio Review: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Audiobook cover of The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Title: The Emerald Atlas [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: John Stephens [Website]
Standing: First in The Books of Beginning series.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Published: April 5th, 2011 by Listening Library/Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Audiobook; 11 hours 38 minutes.  Read by Jim Dale.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
Now we all know Jim Dale is the boss when it comes to audiobooks, and The Emerald Atlas was fine, but even Jim Dale couldn’t charm me enough to keep me from thinking ‘Geez this book is way too freaking long!’.  Seriously people, what is with the 400+ page middle grade books these days?!  I’m glad that we have the confidence in our young readers to expect them to slog through these epics, but personally, I go to middle grade reads when I need a bit of a break and want to finish a pleasant story in one sitting.  The Emerald Atlas was not that story.  Okay, okay, that’s not to say that The Emerald Atlas was bad, it wasn’t, and I did enjoy it.  I’m just not sure it was astounding enough to justify that kind of time stamp, and I feel like I invested more into this book than I got in return.

The Emerald Atlas had a lot of elements that I liked.  I enjoy the focus on the bond of siblings, I liked the incorporation of many different fantasy characters like wizards and dwarfs, creepy monsters, and if I had known there was time travel in this book, I totally would have picked it up earlier!  I won’t reveal the details, or the mechanism, but I will say that if you’re a time travel lover and enjoy middle grade reads this could be a good book for you.  The Emerald Atlas takes place in a reality where the magical world used to be entwined with our own.  It has retreated into its own, but there are places where crossover between the mundane and magic worlds remain. It is one of these crossovers that engulfs the children in adventure.

The siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma each had their own strong personality characteristics and I loved that while they found one another annoying they would staunchly defend one another against anyone outside of their family.  They share a strong belief and hope in the love of their unknown parents, and are open to loving adults despite the cruelty and neglect they have experienced in their time. There was, however, a pattern throughout the book where one sibling would get separated from the other two and drama would ensue, and this got to be a bit wrote for me by the end.  I did like the uncertainty I felt at the book's close.  Were these kids ‘destined’ for adventure, or did they create their own destiny through time travel?

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  Eh...maybe 50/50?  I liked The Emerald Atlas, but I didn’t love it, and I don’t feel invested in the series.  That said, if Jim Dale records the next one, I may still pick it up.

Recommended for: People who don’t think twelve hours is too much of your life to spend on a middle grade book (I'm really sorry I'm being snobby about this, I know, I'm a lazy reader at times), and those who love Jim Dale and/or time travel enough to go there.

Real life repercussions of reading this book: I listened to maybe ⅓ of this book while hopelessly lost on Long Island one day.  I was so angry/upset that that may have leaked over into my impressions of this story. DON'T WORRY. After I called the bf crying, he purchased me a GPS for Valentine's Day.


  1. Jim Dale is a total boss.

    If I was driving around lost, I'd be pissed and that would leak into my feelings toward the audiobook. Oh, GPS, I love you.

    I like long middle grade books, but at the same time, this one seems a bit excessive.

    Still on the fence about reading it.

    1. Yeah, honestly, this is a take it or leave it kinda book. It was decent, but not a must read.

  2. I loved this book and it was extremely fun listening to it on audio. I never really felt it was that long really. Sorry you didn't enjoy it as much. Jim Dale is amazing, I want him to do all the audio books..LOL

    1. Agreed! I'd be perfectly happy if he just narrated everything. =)


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