A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Secret Origins is the newest installment in the Story Thieves series and Book 3 of a new three-volume box set. But if you're expecting a nice conclusion that resolves all the issues of Books 1 and 2, this is not that book. Instead, by the final page, author James Riley has all but run out of cliffs from which to hang plot threads, and he drops numerous broad hints that Story Thieves, so far, has been a mere prequel to untold future shenanigans -- especially the soon-to-be-released Book 4, Story Thieves: Pick a Plot. There's some cartoonish violence -- ray guns, robots, destroyed planets -- and a tad more realistic scary stuff, as when a cartoon villain snatches his creator away into another world. Some tween characters have a bit of romantic interest in other characters, but they're also at the "romance ruins everything" age when it comes to storylines. As with previous volumes, not every kid will love the anything-can-happen craziness, but the brave young heroes (now about age 12 and 13) and their sidekicks have a lot of appeal as they try to solve mysteries and foil villains.
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What's the story?
SECRET ORIGINS are big in the third installment of the Story Thieves series. Who is the terrible, shadowy arch-villain the Dark -- and how did he get this way? The mysterious Nobody, popping in and out of storylines -- same questions. Who -- and where and why -- is Bethany's long-lost father? Also, what does he have to do with superhero Captain Twilight? Once again, it's a crazy mash-up of "real" and "fictional" worlds as regular kid Owen (who still hopes to get superpowers on his 13th birthday) and world-hopping friend Bethany, along with some of their pals from earlier books, face many perils in the worlds of assorted comic books. Dodging killer robots, cosmic doom, and cranky authors, they're all about seeking a happy father-daughter reunion. But is that what the timeline has in store?
Is it any good?
Fans will be captivated by the latest adventures and shifting universes of Bethany and Owen, wonder what's become of absent characters, and look forward to wherever this zany series goes next. Author James Riley runs out of cliffs to hang plot threads from in this non-conclusion of the wacky Story Thieves "trilogy," which proves to be just a prequel to many more installments to come. Between the references to the first two books and frequent mentions of the forthcoming Story Thieves: Pick a Plot, Secret Origins sometimes feels like a madcap infomercial.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about when the shadows take over the characters in Secret Origins. They suddenly get very angry for no real reason. Have you ever felt like that? What did you do? How did it turn out?
What are your favorite comic books and superheroes? Why do you like them?
If someone in your life had a secret identity as a superhero, who would it be? What powers would they have?
- Author: James Riley
- Illustrator: Chris Eliopoulos
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: January 17, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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For kids who love fantasy and adventure
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