Atherton has Fabulous Characterizations, Pleasing Story 6.01.07

From the bestseller author of The Land of Elyon, comes a brand new world in the novel, Atherton: The House of Power. This novel combines the great ideas of the classics, The Divine Comedy and Frankenstein, into a great children’s book. Patrick Carman takes the ideas of the three different books in The Divine Comedy and translates it into three different levels of the planet Atherton. It also takes the ideas of the life/death dichotomy and science gone wrong from Frankenstein by putting it in a way that the readers can understand.The number three plays an important role in the story: three levels, three waterfalls, three main children, three adults in charge at the House of Power, and three villages on Tabletop. Each level of Atherton has a different name; there are the Highlands (Paradise), Tabletop (Purgatory), and the Flatlands (inferno). The three waterfalls supply the levels with water but, the Highlanders are in control of it. They are also the only ones who can read. The three main children push the plot along as we follow them in the story with Edgar being the central one and Isabelle and Samuel being his comrade in arms. But in every story there’s always a villain. In this case it’s Lord Phineus, Sir Philip, and Sir Emerik. They plot and control everything they can get their hands on. But of course the main thing that keeps the story going is the three towns on Tabletop: Village of the Sheep, The Village of the Rabbits, and The Grove. This is where most of the story takes place at.The story has elements of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein as well. The planet was created by a Dr. Harding. He was a mad scientist. The story actually takes place in 2105 even though it feels more like a fantasy than a sci-fi. Earth has been economically destroyed so Atherton is a test planet for life to start over again. A main theme similar in both books is life springing from death.The whole concept for the story is about Edgar’s life in the Grove and his search for a particular item that was left to him, hidden in the cliff face between the Highlands and Tabletop. We follow him in his journeys night after night searching for it, until he finds it. Now he has to find someone to read it to him, which means, he has to go to the Highlands. With every great story there’s always misdirection. Some people lie and some tell the truth to little Edgar, which gives the story more action all the way to the end.I was a little wary picking this novel up at first seeing the cover. It looked like a fantasy RPG novel. But I’m a firm believer in giving books a chance no matter what. I was pleasantly impressed when at the beginning of each section there’s a quote from Frankenstein as well as a snippet of conversation between Dr. Harding and Dr. Kincaid, the creators of the planet Atherton, as well as the way the author describes the locations in the story. Not to mention, he does a fabulous job at characterizations of the main people, especially when confronted with things they’ve never seen before. The appendixes are something worth reading for it helps the reader understand things clearer. I was very pleased with the novel up to the end. This novel comes out this spring, so wait with bated breath and get it the first chance you get.Jennifer Hairfield

Patrick Carman