Strange Lands by Anderson Atlas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In Strange Lands, Allan has his head in the clouds. He loves swimming, but his grades are slipping. As he goes into a championship meet, he finds out that his grades are bad enough to kick him out of the competition. When his parents find out, they’re irate, and spend the ride home lecturing him on the importance of academics. But they don’t make it home. A terrible accident kills his parents and leaves Allan without the use of his legs.
His voice also mysteriously disappears, as he works through the tragedy. Living with his Uncle isn’t so bad, but it does nothing to soothe the wounds left by the accident.
When they take a camping trip far out in the mountains, Allan thinks it’s going to be a drag. Instead, he finds himself in another life-and-death situation when a flood washes up the river they’re fishing in. Allan goes for help, but finds he’s not quite anywhere familiar. Strange creatures and talking lizards and birds have him convinced he’s no longer on Earth. He has to find a way to get back and help his Uncle before he loses everything again.
This was a fun book of fantasy. The other world is kind of amazing, both beautiful and dangerous in nearly equal amounts. I love the struggle that Allan goes through, as all the bad that’s been festering in him comes to the surface. I also found the bit of doubt the author casts on the whole experience to be just enough to make it interesting, but thankfully not so much as to become disappointing. I wish the description of the book highlighted the story as much as it highlights the good reviews.
The only thing I didn’t quite find believable was that Allan seems to lose sight of the fact that his uncle could be dying. He gets in the new world, and he wants to get back and save his uncle, but it feels like he forgets in light of his new situation on many occasions. I think after a few days had passed, I’d be out of my mind with worry, fearing the worst.
Regardless, Strange Lands is a fun book, and I enjoyed reading it aloud to my toddler son.
**If I recall, the uncle used some mild swear words, but with good reason.