Benjamin Holt has always been different from the kids in his class, besides his best friend Andy who also has the same “abilities” as Benjamin. Andy and Benjamin just don’t get what’s so weird about being able to read people’s minds and making frogs in science class fly into girls’ hair! When Benjamin sees his mom go through a picture and disappear into a speckle of light he’s not that surprised since his life is just a little weird that way - but that doesn’t stop him from wondering where in the world she went. He soon finds out when his mirror, yes that’s right his mirror, tells him he’s going to summer school. At first Benjamin isn’t at all excited about going (I mean what thirteen year old kid in his right mind would be excited about giving up their summer to go to school, especially when they’re smart!), but then he finds out this school is in another world and the only way to get there is through the same picture that his mom vanished through earlier! When Benjamin arrives in Lemuria all his doubts instantly vanish, but his life gets even stranger. He’s not even at school for ten minutes when he learns that he’s not really human he’s a telegen which is why he has so many different “abilities.” When the Emerald Tablet chooses him as its champion, Benjamin is dumbfounded. I mean while he thought he was special on earth, his powers just make him normal in Lemuria, so why him? While Benjamin was expecting a pretty normal (or as normal as you can get when you’re at summer school on a submerged continent) summer he knows that won’t ever happen know. With Andy and his newly acquired friends, Benjamin has the summer of a lifetime, even if it isn’t your classical definition of fun!
I had such a good time reading this book! I loved every minute that I was reading it and I feel like I want to reread the book over and over again. From the very first sentence I was laughing, and while the book wasn’t intended to be a comedy there were many times where I couldn’t help but suppress a giggle. The very idea for the story was magical. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book along the same lines as The Emerald Tablet. While reading the book I kept thinking that in a way it was almost like a myth that was being told and how cool it would be if it was actually true.
The characters were also very well developed. PJ Hoover really captured the essence of a thirteen year old boy in Benjamin’s character. He had the whole goofy, know it all, I’d rather not be here attitude which made the book so real. I feel like sometimes authors really grasp the ages of their characters and sometimes they don’t, but this is definitely a case in which the author does. PJ Hoover also did a great job incorporating her supporting characters. They were all essential and I loved how she showed that in most cases we need to all use our best abilities to reach a common goal. I also loved her quirky little character Jack, who had the funniest things to say and was an added bonus to the story.
What a fabulous ending. PJ Hoover wrapped up the story at just the right pace and didn’t force or rush anything. She also left quite few questions unanswered which makes me very anxious for the next two books in the trilogy (the second will be out in Fall 2009 and the third in 2010). Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series will particularly enjoy this book, but really I think it would be a great read for anyone. While the target audience is middle grade readers I think both younger and older readers will also enjoy Benjamin’s story and find themselves craving more.