Choldenko, Gennifer. No Passengers Beyond This Point.
ARC received from publicist. Release date 8 February 2011.
Finn and his older sister India and younger sister Mouse are horrified when they find out that not only has their mother lost their home, but they will be moving from California to Colorado to live with their uncle the next day. All of the children are worried and angry at their mother, apprehensive about the move, and irritated by the presence of each other. When the plane lands mysteriously and abruptly, they find themselves in a Falling Bird, place of opposites-- they first arrive at magnificent houses, but are soon ripped away from them. They are given everything, and then must fight for the smallest thing. Memories of their past come to haunt them... their father's death, fights with friends, and unrealized dreams from their life in California form their journey in Falling Bird. They are all fighting a clock, and must complete certain tasks and decide the route that each of them will take before it runs down. In the end, they all decide that family, no matter how irritating, is more important than individual wishes. The ending is a huge surprise, and I don't want to spoil it.
Strengths: The story is mysterious and intriguing, the dialogue snappy, and the characters individualistic while still being likable. Fantasy fans will like the advantages and challenges of Falling Bird.
Weaknesses: This gets off to a bit of a slow start, and the world of Falling Bird is a bit confusing. We don't find out what is going on until the very last few pages, and some readers may give up before them. All along, I felt like I was not making some connection between the emotional turmoil of the realistic world and the purpose of the children being in Falling Bird. Not to ruin it, but the story is, in a way, a reimagining of the Wizard of Oz story.
I was hoping to be part of Charlotte's Library's "Timeslip Tuesday" with this, but it's not really time travel!