The Navigator

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Navigator Book Poster Image
Time fantasy is occasionally exciting.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The main character skips school.

Violence

Some fantasy violence: battles with injuries and death, a kidnapping with harsh treatment, a reference to suicide, a deer is deliberately run over.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Video game player brand mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's some fantasy violence, with injuries, deaths, kidnapping, and references to a parent who's supposed to have committed suicide (he didn't).

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What's the story?

Owen likes to play near an abandoned Workhouse above his town, and he has a secret cave nearby. With his father gone and his mother deep in depression, he likes to hang out there. But one day he comes out of his cave to find the Workhouse swarming with people, but his house, indeed his entire town, has vanished.

Soon he finds out that evil beings called the Harsh have reversed time, that the Workhouse is an island in time, and that the people there, called Resisters, sleep through the centuries and awaken when needed to fight the Harsh. Owen himself has a part to play in defeating the Harsh and setting time back on its normal course. But he's not sure whom he can trust, and some of the Resisters don't trust him -- they believe that his father was a traitor, and Owen may be too.

Is it any good?

Adult author Eoin McNamee pens an intermittently exciting variation on an archetypal fantasy theme for his first children's book. The details are imaginative, but unclear. Who the Harsh are, where the Resisters came from, how it all works -- none of this is really explained. This might be less noticeable if the characters were more compelling, but they're mostly flat and interchangeable.

The ending is even more mystifying than the rest of the story. The action is fun at times, though it sometimes drags, and there are hints that there might be more backstory than the author is letting on. This is intended to be the first of a series, but it doesn't leave the reader panting for more. It might appeal to fantasy fanatics who have run out of more compelling fare.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about magical neighborhood places. The author based the setting on a place in his own childhood neighborhood. Are there places in your neighborhood that seem mysterious, magical, strange? Have you ever imagined fantastic things taking place there? What makes a place seem magical?

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