Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review: DISNEY AT DAWN by Ridley Pearson

Rating: 2/5 stars

I feel like this series as a whole had a lot of potential with its premise, but Ridley Pearson didn't capitalize on that potential. We hardly see any Disney characters in either this book or the first one. The only character who shows up is Maleficent, who happens to be the main villain in both books. Why are we not seeing more (and different) Disney characters? In book one, the kids briefly see Pooh and Piglet, and Chip and Dale. Why are they not seeing any more characters at the park (that is supposedly filled with Disney characters) or while being DHIs? Why are there not more villains working with Maleficent or who make appearances? I guess we get a short, silent cameo from Chernabog at the end, but does that even count? Is he even a real villain? What happened to the iconic Disney characters that I expected to fill these pages?

I'm just very disappointed with the direction this series went. It had the ability to be a great series about the Disney characters, but instead, we got a series about the six kids, and it just happens to take place in Disney World. I think they could have had the same kinds of adventures anywhere, and it wouldn't be that hard to make this story unrelated to Disney.

There were a plethora of inconsistencies in this book, and they completely disrupted my reading experience. I'm going to describe a few of them, which might include very minor spoilers ahead. The biggest inconsistency was that the point of view changes from character to character within the same chapter, even though it's supposed to be a third-person limited perspective to one character at a time. This happened throughout the entire book, and it was very irritating.

The characterization was inconsistent as well. Jez became Jess at the end of book one, but book two starts with her as Jez again? Why did this happen? No one knows, as no explanation is ever offered for it. There is also a quotation that said, "Maybeck always called Finn by his last name." Since when? Did this happen all throughout book one, too, or am I missing something?

Finn's phone rings while he is in the theatre (the only time it ever rings in the book), and we never find out who called (probably his parents). He doesn't ever call his parents though, and that seemed unrealistic. Wouldn't they be calling more? Later on, he addresses that he should call them, but it felt like a last-ditch effort to include parents in a book about fourteen-year-olds because he never actually calls them.

In a scene toward the end of the book, Philby says multiple times that he "can open the hatches." Plural. More than one hatch. But a few chapters later, Finn is wondering who opened the second hatch? Uh, Philby did. We already covered that. It is these small details being inconsistent and wrong that makes me the most frustrated with the series. There are so many examples in this book of poor editing, and that is just one of them.

Another poor editing example is this quotation: " 'The black door!' Maybeck called out calmly." Tell me how you calmly exclaim something (see that exclamation point?) when you're in a predicament and fighting for your life. That doesn't happen. Even the tiniest of details like that were getting on my nerves in this book.

Here's another one: "Two of the tigers and several of the monkeys and apes had been holograms. No wonder his blows with the stick hadn't done much." There's a big difference between not doing much damage with the stick, and the stick going right through the being because it doesn't exist. In this case, Finn should have been able to figure out the animals were DHIs way before they vanished.

I also saw quite a few textual editing errors and visual spacing errors in this book. That, combined with the times the author contradicts himself with inconsistencies and the constant repetition of details throughout the story (it's like he thinks I've forgotten what he wrote only five pages ago), has me wondering how this book managed to be published at all.

One thing I did like about this book was that the kids were in the Animal Kingdom instead of in the Magical Kingdom like book one. Switching to different parks every book adds some variety, and it's nice that they go to a new park every book throughout the series (from my understanding). However, I thought only the Magic Kingdom was wired for DHI projection. Did they change this technical roadblock in a matter of a few months? There is also no explanation as to how or why the kids can cross over and become DHIs while being awake, but it felt too easy and convenient for the plot, like the reasoning didn't matter as long as the could become DHIs to solve all their mortal problems.

I enjoyed book one, and I finished book two, but I will not be reading any more books in this series. I think my ultimate problem is that I don't like Pearson's writing style. I read a detailed and spoilery synopsis for books three and four, and my eyes about rolled out of my head. The same exact kinds of predicaments and revelations happen in every book. It honestly felt to me like the story repeats itself every book, but the kids are in a new location each time. I'm just not really interested in reading about these kids and their antics anymore.

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