A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Eighth Day is the first book in a planned trilogy that supposes that ancestors of evil magicians from King Arthur's time are imprisoned in a special time stream between Wednesday and Thursday and others, called Transitioners, can exist in both. Of course the evil magicians want out, and in a climactic scene pitting good against evil there's plenty of gunfire, bloodletting with daggers, one sad death, and many other deaths. But violence stays action-focused, not gory. Jax is kidnapped more than once and fears for his life, and there's much talk about his being an orphan and the families of other Transitioners like him having been wiped out by the enemy. All other content stays pretty mild. Kids will learn a bit about the King Arthur legend as well as the pyramids at Teotihuacan. Through Jax's folly, they'll also get a reminder to be careful online.
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What's the story?
Ever since Jax's father died and left him with Riley -- a boy barely out of high school who barely remembers to pay the electric bill -- Jax has been angry and confused. Why can't he live with his cousin? He doesn't even like Riley. Then Jax turns 13, and his confusion multiplies. He wakes up one morning and the whole town is deserted. Just gone. He rides around in a panic, breaks into Walmart for emergency supplies, and stacks them in his closet. Then the next day he wakes up and the world's going on again like nothing ever happened. A week later it happens again, but this time he runs into Riley, who has some serious explaining to do. Riley tells him he's a Transitioner like him: those descended from knights and magicians in King Arthur's time who live one extra day between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people transition from both realms, while some descendants of evil magicians live in the eighth day permanently. Jax has so many more questions, but Riley remains secretive. He's determined to train him just enough and send him to his cousin's house; too much information is dangerous. But each Transitioner has a family gift, and Jax is an inquisitor. He quickly learns about the secret prisoner next door and Riley's true identity. He also learns that there are others out there who want to use his gifts, and suddenly his curiosity puts him in serious danger.
Is it any good?
For a story that pits good vs. evil and could end in the apocalypse, THE EIGHTH DAY stays surprisingly light. The marketers of the book make comparisons to the Percy Jackson series. Jax isn't as quick-witted as Percy, but he's very earnest and makes relatable kid mistakes. He also steps up in a hurry when his friends are in trouble and thinks for himself. Readers will like him right away, and they'll grow to like Riley, as Jax does.
As with any start to a series where a huge premise needs to be laid out, there are slow patches while Jax and readers gather information about Transitioners, those trapped in the eighth day, and where they came from and why. But once that's established (with enough mystery for future books), the story gets exciting and the pages fly by until the end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Arthur legend and The Eighth Day. What did you know before about King Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table? How do they figure into this story?
Would you like to be a Transitioner? What would your kids do if they had one day all to themselves (keep in mind that there would be no electricity)? What about parents?
What mistakes did Jax make online? Is there anything you think you should change about your online behavior? For starters, how often do you change your passwords?
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