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Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Navel of the World by PJ Hoover

The Navel of the World
by PJ Hoover

Release Date: October 12, 2009
Publisher: Children's Brains are Yummy Books
Pages: 312

Starting up a couple months after where The Emerald Tablet ends, The Navel of the World follows Benjamin and his friends as they try to find Benjamin’s long-lost brothers in order to basically, save the world. They are telegens, more advanced life forms than humans, with powers like telepathy and teleportation. Benjamin and his friends attend summer school for telegens in the hidden continent of Lemuria. They, however, stand out because they were picked by The Emerald Tablet in the previous book to save the failing shield surrounding Atlantis. The rival continent contains some bad seeds that try to use their powers to manipulate humans, making the shield preventing them from reaching the human world necessary.

The Navel of the World follows the same basic pattern as The Emerald Tablet. The protagonists are presented with a problem that is part of their quest to fix the shields surrounding Atlantis, this time finding more of Benjamin’s brothers, and through some coincidences, research, and problem-solving eventually come up with a solution. As the novel is aimed toward a younger audience, this works quite nicely and is easy to follow along. One minor flaw is that the author sometimes mentions various things, such as a course one of the characters takes “Empathy,” without explaining what exactly they are. Further references to these unclear “things,” for lack of a better word, provide small obstructions in the other wise easily understandable flow of the story.

One plot element that was particularly well done was that of time travel. Time travel in itself can be very confusing and complicated, but PJ Hoover does an excellent job making it comprehendible, so much so that most younger readers will not be left baffled.

As the plot thickens, so do the relationships between the group of friends. Budding romance and crushes between the protagonists meets some hitches along the way from newly introduced characters that are snagging the girls away from the boys. Although this does add something to the story overall, it seems a tiny bit out of place. The characters don’t quite act their age, sometimes seeming older and younger than they should be. In truth, I was I tiny bit surprised when I found out that they were supposed to be going into high school. I had thought of them a bit younger. However, the minor discrepancies and a few parts that seem a bit rushed don’t obstruct the major points of the story, and it is quite an enjoyable tale. Younger fantasy fans will enjoy this second part of “The Forgotten Worlds” series and look forward to the next installment.

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