Friday, March 29, 2013

Land of Nod, The Artifact by Gary Hoover

‘Land of Nod, The Artifact’  by +Gary Hoover is one of those genre-bending tales that sucks you in and soon you are hooked. It is a little bit sci-fi and a lot fantasy. I first read this book in 2011 and recently re-read it while visiting grandchildren. I think it's well worth a second look!

The Blurb:
Jeff Browning has been haunted by terrifying dreams since the mysterious disappearance of his father (a renowned physicist). But when he finds a portal in his father’s office, he must overcome his fears in an attempt to find him.
The portal takes him to another dimension – one populated by fantastic and dangerous creatures and also an advanced society of humans.

As Jeff looks for clues regarding what may have happened to his father, he is accused by some of being a spy while thought by others to be a prophesized figure . . . who may be the key to victory in a developing war.

My Review:
The plot details the adventures of Jeff Browning, a fourteen year old boy who is struggling with the loss of his father. Jeff has dreams that frighten him and he tries to avoid sleep as much as he can. One day he decides to search his late father's locked office, and while he is in there he finds a strange machine with a hole in the center that leads to somewhere else. He climbs into it and embarks on a strange series of adventures, finding that his father may not be dead but may actually be there too, somewhere.

Jeff has mysterious powers that aren't fully explained in this book but they are hinted at, rather strongly, as being more fully explained at a later date. Fortunately, Jeff is taken in by a family, and they help him.  As he begins searching for his father, he is accused by some of being a spy, and is thought by others to be a prophesied figure, 'The Raja' a savior who may be the key to victory in a war that is looming on the horizon.  This is because of the locket which he wears that his father gave him years before.

This world is populated by fantastic and dangerous creatures and also an advanced society of humans. That society, while very different from those on earth, parallels Jeff's earth in many ways. 

Hoover blends science and technology with mysticism and prophecy to create a world that is both familiar and strange.  There are many different issues keeping Jeff from finding his father, from useless politicians whose self-interest outweighs the greater good to a war that he eventually finds himself in the middle of.

The characters are well drawn, and the strange world is also well crafted and visually real. The beasts that Jeff must fight are quite frightening and the battles are very realistic. While this is a great stand-alone tale, Hoover sets you up for the sequel, Land of Nod, The Prophet, quite neatly. This is another good adventure book for readers of all ages. I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it!

My grandson and I will be reading Land of Nod, The Prophet over the summer, and I confess, I've been cheating--I've already begun reading it! What a great series!

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