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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*The Seems: The Split Second (Book 2)* by John Hulme and Michael Wexler- young readers book review
The Seems: The Split Second (Book 2)
by John Hulme and Michael Wexler
Ages 9-12 320 pages Bloomsbury USA September 2008 Hardcover    

Is the world really what it “seems” to be? What is “the plan” behind what happens to people? John Hulme and Michael Wexler have attempted to answer these questions by creating a parallel universe in The Seems. By combining tongue-in-cheek humor with science fiction, the authors have produced a funny, albeit complicated world.

In The Seems, every last detail of life on earth is created and managed by individuals in a parallel universe - including hand-painted sunsets, the weather, and the passage of time. The entire world fits into a grand “Plan,” with a purpose behind every event and person. Individuals within The Seems carry out that plan in the world.

A sequel to last year’s popular The Seems: a Glitch in Sleep, this second book does not stand alone. The Seems and its relationship with reality are so complex and convoluted that the background knowledge of the first book is really necessary for a full appreciation and understanding of the second. Moreover, the entire book is overfilled with metaphors and plays on words. Trademarked devices and people and places are named after familiar expressions related to time – e.g. the Department of Daylight Savings, Minutemen, the Stitch in Time, etc. Further complicating matters, the events related to the search and repair of the stitch happen in a multitude of settings. The switch from one setting to another is often brisk, making it easy to lose your train of thought and follow the plot.

Thirteen-year-old Becker Drane is an ordinary human boy with a “7th sense” - the ability to sense when and where something is wrong in The Seems. He is therefore qualified to be a Fixer in The Seems and joins an elite group of people who “Live to Fix and Fix to Live.”

Becker’s fixing skills are called for in another mission of critical importance to saving the world. This time, the insurgent group, The Tide, has attacked the Department of Time with a time bomb and a second is split. Time itself is speeding up, slowing down, and for all intents and purposes completely messed up, thereby wreaking havoc in the world. Becker’s mission is to find and repair the errant split second.

Calling on the experience and help of other key figures in the Seemsian world, Becker embarks on a worldwide undertaking: tracking the split second and working to contain it for the repair.

As he tracks the problem, Becker works with a number of different characters in various states of being – some located in “Frozen Moments,” others in “Meanwhile,” etc. The help of “Time Being” becomes a critical element in his mission to restore time to normal. The life philosophy elements of the story are not thoroughly explored, and the few heartfelt moments with Becker’s “Mission within a Mission” and in “Frozen Moments” feel out of place given the humor and science fiction elements of the rest of the story.

Best read in long stretches when you can immerse yourself in the reality of The Seems, the book is somewhat humorous. However, it is often disjointed and confusing. My well-read 7th-grade reviewing partner enjoyed the second book more than the first, and appreciated the fast-paced action and elements of suspense. Nonetheless, he doubted that many others will have the persistence to follow the many abrupt setting changes and numerous characters.

Concluding with three appendices humorously explaining the many “Tools of the Trade,” etc., the book clearly sets out to thoroughly explain a fantasy world behind our own. A companion website ( perpetuates the world of The Seems with an author’s blog, opportunity for reader feedback, catalog, etc.

The reader needs to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy the book. It is crammed with so many clever word plays that the humor gets in the way of the story. Recommended for fantasy and science fiction lovers, but not likely to appeal to many in the mainstream upper elementary crowd for which it was written.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Kristine Wildner/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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