A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Much craziness, not much educational content, but interesting speculation on the relationship of fact and fiction, and why they both are important.
Amid all the shenanigans, strong messages about friendship, loyalty, teamwork, and thinking outside the box. Also family, as Bethany's determination to reunite her world-divided parents drives much of the action.
Positive Role Models
Bethany determined to save her father; she also comes to realize that she needs both parts of herself to be who she is and succeed. Owen shows much death-defying courage; his heroic, self-sacrificing act in an earlier book plays a big role here, as does putting right the deception he's practiced with another character. Fictional characters show courage, ingenuity, teamwork, awesome wisecracking abilities.
Violence & Scariness
Fair amount of comic book-style violence, with villains bent on destroying worlds, permanently dividing kids into two selves, other nefarious stuff. Punching, kicking, bashing, etc., plus creepy monster-like troops, mad science experiments, ray guns, and evil robots. Hanging over the whole tale is the future -- in which Owen dies and fails to rescue Bethany, because his robotic heart breaks down from too much time travel -- as Owen and friends try desperately for a different outcome.
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Occasional references to butts, behinds, etc. Insults like "idiotic fool," "jerk."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the hefty Worlds Apart concludes James Riley's crazily imaginative Story Thieves series involving the "real" world, the fictional world, and the bad things that happen when the two are on the outs. As earlier in the series, there's a lot of slapstick comic book violence, from the destruction of entire civilizations to bashing people with assorted weapons or hacking off instantly regrowing limbs. Tween characters have crushes and relationship misunderstandings with other tweens. As you might suspect from the follow-up to a Pick the Plot book, things don't necessarily make a lot of sense here. But amid the looniness and random appearances of past characters, there's a lot of positive messaging about friendship, family, courage, creative thinking, and the right balance between practicality and the imagination.
Is It Any Good?
If you've gotten this far in James Riley's wacky adventure series, you'll be right at home with the weird plot twists, random character appearances, shape-shifting, and tween angst. In Worlds Apart, tween heroes Owen and Bethany, along with their fictional-hero friends, are appealing and relatable as they try to do the right thing, save their worlds, and have more cool adventures.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.