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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Rivers of Fire (Atherton, Book Two)* by Patrick Carman- young readers book review
Also by Patrick Carman:

The House of Power (Atherton, Book One)
Rivers of Fire (Atherton, Book Two)
by Patrick Carman
Ages 9-12 320 pages Little, Brown May 2008 Hardcover    

Imagine that you live on a man-made world in the future, a satellite of the Earth known as the Dark Planet because it’s so been so exploited and polluted by humans. They continue to strive and live on the Dark Planet despite the fact that it seems to be dying; but the real hope of humanity is elsewhere, off of Earth.

Imagine that, although you most likely were born on the Dark Planet (except for the boy “hero” of the series, Edgar), you have no memory of ever having lived on the planet. Instead, false memories have been given you of having lived on what you consider to be your native planet, the satellite Atherton, and all of your old memories have been wiped out. It’s a chance for a fresh start, a “do-over” for humanity. Villages, groves of fig trees, and unclimbable cliffs lead to the Highlands, ruled over by the mysterious and evil Lord Phineus. Still, your life is a relatively peaceful and pleasant one...until changes start happening to your planet, and everything is thrown into turmoil.

In Rivers of Fire, the second book of “Atherton”, bestselling author Patrick Carman depicts such a world, creating a story of adventure, suspense, and action with memorable characters you’ll want to get lost in. The first book of the “Atherton” series, The House of Power, is also an excellent book and highly recommended, but it is not a prerequisite to read it before reading this one to thoroughly understand and enjoy it. Background about Atherton and some of its main characters and creators are given before the first chapter of the novel, and that should be all of the enlightenment you’ll need if you haven’t yet read the first book (and if you have, it’s a good way to refresh your memory).

Rivers of Fire shifts between three main story lines. One involves the “orphan” boy Edgar, who started to unravel the secrets of Atherton in The House of Power by fearlessly climbing the cliffs to the Highlands and finding a journal in a crevice on the way, written by Dr. Harding. Dr. Harding, along with Dr. Kincaid, another major character in the series, are the two scientists who had the idea of creating Atherton and inventing many of the animals that populate it. Dr. Harding, the driving force behind Atherton and many of the creatures that live on (and within) it, seems to have mysteriously disappeared, leaving Atherton and its people and animals to fend for themselves.

In this storyline, Edgar, Dr. Kincaid and Vincent, a man who has served as an assistant and protector for Kincaid and Harding, travel to different parts of Atherton to find out the answers to more secrets and warn the inhabitants of the huge earthquakes and flooding that will transform Atherton forever. They also warn people about the monstrous omnivorous Cleaners who are on the move, eating everything in their paths. The three-tiered satellite is collapsing in on itself, and the upside-down mushroom-shaped Atherton’s Highlands are sinking at an alarming rate.

The second storyline follows the explorations, adventures, and reveals other secrets about Atherton discovered by two other children introduced in The House of Power, the boy Samuel from the Highlands, who became a friend of Edgar’s, and Isabel, who was a friend of Edgar’s when they had both lived in the middle part of Atherton known as the Tabletop, where they both helped tend a grove of fig trees. She’s a great female heroine who has developed an uncannily accurate aim firing dried black figs off with a sling, a skill that comes in very handy. She teaches other people of Tabletop that skill as well and aids in organizing them when they battle the people of the Highlands in The House of Power.

The two children travel within the very depths of Atherton with Dr. Kincaid, Vincent and Sir William (Samuel’s father), see some of Atherton’s other strange and dangerous creatures that live only within Atherton’s interior, and venture through a part of Atherton known as the Inferno. They find Dr. Maximus Harding, but can even he help stem the changes Atherton is experiencing, and stop the flood waters rising up from Atherton’s interior from destroying their world?

The third storyline is about how some adult characters of Tabletop band together with their past foes from the Highlands to survive the changes their world is undergoing and battle the seemingly unstoppable Cleaners. The Cleaners, one of Dr. Harding’s nastiest creations, have gnashing teeth that sound like bones clacking together and are multi-legged. They are, though, delicious to eat, if you overlook the sliminess of their meat enough to get some of it down your throat. Walter and Maude of the Tabletop and Horace of the Highlands are some of the more interesting adult characters in this storyline.

Rivers of Fire is a worthy and riveting sequel to The House of Power, guaranteed to please fans of Carman’s first book and his other series, like “The Land of Elyon.” =Whether you’ve read The House of Power or not, you’ll love reading Rivers of Fire.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Douglas R. Cobb/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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