Story Thieves, by James Riley

Story Thieves, by James Riley (Aladdin, Jan 2015), is a fast, fun one for 9 to 11 years old (give or take).  Book loving Owen is thrilled when he realizes his classmate, Bethany, has the ability to travel into books, and experience them as reality.  His imagination instantly transports him right to the ending of book six in his favorite series, just as the great Magister is being attacked, and (horror!) killed by the Bad Guy who wants to blow up the Magister's planet of magic in the name of science.  Owen tricks Bethany into sending him into that book for real (he might find a spell in the Magister's book that will help her find her father, a story character who got lost in a book when she was little).   But Owen doesn't head Bethany's injunction not to meddle with the course of the story as written, and tries to be a hero....

And in so doing, he allows the Magister to pinch enough of Bethany's power to show up, along with his apprentice, Kiel (Owen's hero), at the home of the books' author...where the Magister is not happy at all to find himself a fictional character.   Chaos ensues as the Magister sets to work freeing trapped fictional characters and creatures, and Bethany and Kiel join forces to try to hold him back, and in the meantime, back in the world of the story, Owen finds himself playing the part of Kiel in the nail-biting seventh book of the series (magic vs science, with the lives of millions at stake).    It is tremendously page-turnery for those who think books that mix sci fi and magic, and have both dragons and robots, are the best idea ever!   Also good for those who think living fan-fiction sounds like a dream come true.  (I appreciated the fact that this dream come true ended up being something of a nightmare---I myself have a very short list indeed of spec. fic. worlds I'd actually like to be a character in!  Tourist, maybe, but not the hero who actually has to Save the Day.   I don't think I could cope).

It doesn't, exactly, have much emotional depth.  I would not recommend it to anyone who isn't already a strong fan of MG sci fi/fantasy, but the reader who is might well be delighted by the excitement and mayhem and wild adventure!

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