Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review::Max and the Gatekeeper by James Todd Cochrane

Max and the GatekeeperMax and the Gatekeeper by James Todd Cochrane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Max and the Gatekeeper by James Todd Cochrane

Max and the Gatekeeper starts out well with some bit of excitement to get the reader interested and then a slower paced mystery that stretches out only for as long as Max's Grandfather sees fit to torture him.

Max Rigdon is just an ordinary kid who is not quite so ordinary (by virtue of his connection to his grandfather) yet is quite ordinary in the world that he lives because of how things in the story work. The premise is that we have high potential for magic in our world but less inclination and thus less ability to tap into it.

Grandpa was once involved in a science program that examined certain potential and ended up opening a gateway into many dimensions where magic existed and in a way the gateway was emulating what some of the other worlds do with magic. Once the door was open Grandpa and some others were able to tap into the magic of the other worlds and learn how to use it on ours. But there is a sort of war going on and Max's Grandpa is guarding our world from the evil while helping others in other worlds to fight the evil and try to keep the gateway technology out of the hands of others. In the war Max's father was a casualty and that leaves Max as the sole heir to the task his grandfather has undertaken.

What Max doesn't realize is that he has been sent to his grandfather this year to learn all that they can teach him about the gateway and the magic. And the whole town where his grandfather lives is controlled by the evil that is trying to gain access to the Gateway.

I've already probably gone too far so I'll stop there.

There are a number of things I really liked about this novel. First off it obviously is a Young Adult or Teen novel. Max is around twelve and Max's partner in magic schooling Cindy is also of that age. I really enjoyed that Cindy was in no way ever portrayed as being helpless and in need of protecting. She's pretty level headed most of the time and even her mistakes seem to make sense and the consequences only help demonstrate her ability to fend for herself. Max too is an independent spirit and he learns quickly.

These stories-yes there are more- have the potential to be like the Harry Potter franchise. But as some others have noted the reader might get the feeling of things being rushed. The big evil is addressed right away and that helps to rush things along. I at one point was not sure there would be enough left for more story, but there really is plenty of wiggle room.

The parallel worlds or universes give this an element similar to Sliders of TV fame and open the stories for lots of possibilities. The magic rules are interesting and seemed consistent and the pace was pretty well handled to keep me interested.

I'm sure if James Todd Cochrane had decided to spend just a bit more time on developing both the good and the evil characters that this book could have been much longer. I'm not sure how much more improved it would be, but definitely longer and that might limit the age group. So I think in the long run the decision to look a bit rushed may be good for the age group this seems to target.

And the fact that there are more gives room for character development. We'll definitely have to see.

This is a good book for the Younger reader with mostly tame content to give it a wide distribution of readers. I'm well beyond that target age and really loved it.I think people interested in Fantasy and some SFF fans who aren't picky about needing adult scenes and solid science will really enjoy it.

It's a great and fun read.

I picked this up in June and notice that it was updated in November. I'm not sure what all needed fixing but I must have been mostly distracted by the story and didn't notice any problems.

J.L. Dobias

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