The Door by Andy Marino is a middle-grade fantasy that explores the idea of an afterlife in a city very similar to the real world but fantastical in its own way. The Door also features a protagonist with some mental and social quirks, which hooked me immediately since that is something I don’t see explored enough in speculative fiction. However, The Door stumbled into many of the typical middle-grade traps by not having a strong plot and failing to explore the interesting aspects of the premise. Oh, and there is literally no ending by the traditional definition….
Note: I received The Door from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Door by Andy Marino
Published by Scholastic Press on April 29th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 288 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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For years, the door has stayed closed. Hannah Silver hardly notices it as she goes about her strange life in an isolated lighthouse. But when a pair of mysterious strangers -- a boy and his guardian -- show up at the lighthouse, things start to go very wrong. Hannah's life is shattered. And the door is now wide open.
In order to save herself and her family, Hannah must walk through this door.
Into another world.
A world where she doesn't belong.
A world that wants to capture her and make sure she never makes it back home.
- Cities in the afterlife seems to be a trend and The Door presents a pretty interesting middle-grade spin on the idea. The mysterious door in the lighthouse and guardians of said door were all intriguing and fun to get pulled into and then we find out that in order to progress through limbo, residents of this city work to perform some amazing and unique achievement, such as painting the most amazing painting or inventing glass controlled by nanotechnology. Very cool!
- The writing of The Door is light and fast, as I typically expect from middle-grade. I enjoyed the descriptions of the city and its denizens since they evoked some really beautiful scenes.
- The Door presents a magic system that is assumed to be very advanced technology or technology that conforms to different rules than our world and I had one particular favorite: 3D paint! The artists in this afterworld are able to paint with special material that leads to their paintings being literally 3D objects, but with a painting of that object superimposed. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but so fun to read about!
- I wasn’t really sure how my relationship with The Door was going to end up until the end. Just because you put “The End” and no more words, does not an ending make! If you need closure of any kind at the end of a story, this is so not the book for you.
- The last bit of The Door was also incredibly anti-climactic. It fell into that horrendous trap of a solution magically presenting itself that makes everything that happened pointless. The fun of middle-grade is for children to be empowered and go on adventures! When the MC doesn’t end up actually doing anything, it’s a bit disappointing.
- All the things that interested me at the beginning of The Door (Hannah’s apparent mental disability, her relationship with her mother, the dynamics of this afterlife city) are left completely unanswered and unaddressed. Worse yet, Hannah’s mental disability is basically cured as soon as The Door gets rolling and its source is never explored.
- The adults and villains in The Door are completely flat and dull. I could practically see the mustache-twirling baddies and parents who just want to ruin all the fun for the kids. I expect better even from middle-grade.
The Door had promise but failed to pursue any of the interesting aspects of the premise. It fell into all the typical problems with middle-grade that make people not interested in this genre and that disappoints me quite a bit. I’m still rather flabbergasted at whatever those last 20 pages were supposed to be and you seriously should have seen my expression when I got to the “end” ;-). I’m sad to say that The Door just doesn’t represent middle-grade fantasy well at all.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Door by Andy Marino
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.