Atherton Audio Book Masterfully Done 5/30/07

Reviewed by Patty Inglish, MSSubtitled: Climbing to Freedom in the DarkAtherton is a world of four pieces. It includes a southern hemisphere and three flat planes above it: the poorest Flatlands, the peasant Tabletop, and the rich Highlands. The Highlanders are the leaders and readers of this world. They also control all of the water. If work crews in Tabletop send up enough figs, rabbits, wool, and mutton fast enough, then the Highland lords send down water in large baskets attached to ropes. If not, the control lords withhold the water. They also forbid Tabletoppers to learn to read or to have books and any they find must be sent up in the baskets immediately. Finally, the people of Tabletop are not allowed to climb up the cliff faces to the Highlands, under severe penalties. Nevertheless, young Edgar of Tabletop climbs the cliffs nightly, finds a book, and sets off to climb all the way up to Lord Phineas in the House of Power and ask Phineas to read it to him. An echoing voice remembered from Edgar’s early childhood is spurring him on (“It [the book] will come to you.”).In reading The House of Power, Jonathan Davis does an admirable job of truly sounding like several different people of many ages. The echoing effect in parts of the CD audio provides an otherworldly flavor that helps one to suspend disbelief and enter Edgar’s world of Atherton. Davis’s reading voice is well modulated, easy to understand with excellent diction, and flowing with a moderate and enjoyable pace. The musical selections help to propel the story forward. By the end of the first disk, it is difficult not to continue the entire 8 hours at once.Patrick Carman’s story continues with Edgar finding codes to solve puzzles in his book, while earthquakes cause the Highlands to sink. Perhaps this will being about a class war as the fig grove peasants meet the controlling water lords face to face. As the Highlands lower, Edgar accompanies Dr. Luther Kincaid to the Flatlands to learn what kind of total world Atherton really is. The adventure is an enjoyable journey of discovery about a dying Dark Planet and its computers that helped to create Atherton as a refuge that is now collapsing. The sequel should be very good as well.Armchair Interviews says: This selection is recommended for ages 8-12, but adults will also enjoy it.

Patrick Carman