on Aug. 12, 2015 :
The Stone Gate is very firmly set in the Young Adult adventure arena. It is, however also more than an exciting book for young adults. It is a look at Global Warming and what we, as a collective planet, are going to do about it.
For this reason, I have marked it down one star, because I felt that at times the constant discussion about what had been done to correct (or not) the path forward for humanity, came across a little like preaching. Now, this isn't to say that the information and the message in this book is not valid. It is! But I would have preferred a little less 'environmental preaching' and more adventure. This is a personal preference thing, and I feel that young adults will probably not feel this way.
That little issue aside, I did enjoy the adventure that Kaya and Jack experienced. I think my favourite was Beth's world, but I liked how the rich aboriginal history was brought into the story. For me, that really was a work of genius.
The pace of the book is spot on for younger readers, there is constant action and information being provided and it will keep those with shorter attention spans interested because of this. The tone is conversational and light with alternating POV chapters from Kaya and Jack. I liked this format because it allowed for a bit broarder a scope when trying to cover all the related topics as the kids went through their adventure.
This also posed some interesting challenges, in terms of how it was written. I didn't really enjoy the first person present tense writing style, but I think I get where Mark was trying to go with it, alas I don't think the choice lived up to its reputation. Using the first person present tense POV, should have given more insight into the characters (especially when they had interchanging chapters to voice their own personalities). Unfortunately, Kaya and Jack fell quite flat for me. Aside from having some pretty strong stereo-types, they didn't seem all that developed.
Kaya was a nature, environmental guru. She watches shows like Bear Grylls and is in tune with nature. Where as Jack is a typical computer nerd-type of character. There is a couple of flashes of personality throughout the book, but it's limited to specific events that the protagonists find themselves and don't come through at other times.
All of that aside, I still enjoyed the book. It was a fast read and entertaining if you can look past the preaching about climate change.
I predict this should be suitable for ages 13 and up, however there are a couple of assaults/sexual references at the start that may cause distress to those sensitive to that type of thing.
(review of free book)
on Oct. 29, 2014 :
Twins Kaya and Jack lived in a small Australian coastal town called Baytown; surrounded by Bay Beach to the east and a forest of thick trees and sandstone cliffs to the west they loved their home town. The night of the full moon when friends Jayden and Debbie along with Kaya and Jack ventured up to the High Plateau was like any other – it was a favourite haunt of the local teens, with the Stone Gate just a strange rock with an opening in the middle. But that night something very weird was happening; the moon seemed to be filling the stone gate with brightness…
As Jack stepped forward to check it out, he grabbed Kaya’s hand; then after a blinding white flash and a strange roaring which filled their ears it was quiet again – what had happened? As they looked around everything seemed the same – the Stone Gate was still there in the clearing – but where were Debbie and Jayden? As they began to explore they realized that the countryside of their home was much the same, but very different. Where was the usual rubbish? Where was the graffiti which was always around? And where was Baytown?
Kaya and Jack’s adventures while they tried to work out where they were and to find food to survive became stranger and more vivid. Their eventual meeting with Aboriginal leader Billy of the Dunjini tribe and subsequent events which continued were fascinating but surreal. But more was to follow. Would Kaya and Jack ever find their way back home? And what was happening to Kaya?
What a brilliant book! I was caught up in the adventures of Kaya and Jack right from the very beginning – the imagination of Aussie author Mark Mann is fantastic. The incorporation of global warming in a fictional way and for a young adult audience is extremely well done and I also enjoyed the author’s notes at the end of the book. With full on action and pace that is electric, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending The Stone Gate highly, and will be watching for more from this author.
(review of free book)