Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stealing Magic by Marianne Malone

Magic was definitely magical. This is the sequel to The Sixty-Eight Rooms (and you can read my review for book 1 here). These books are definitely more a part of the younger spectrum of young adult literature. Technically, it’s more middle grade than young adult, but I’ve seen teens reading it too.

I was particularly drawn to these books, a) because they take place in Chicago, b) because much of them take place in my favorite Chicago museum: The Art Institute, and c) because the story is all about kids who can literally shrink in size and go into the miniature Thorne Rooms. The Thorne Rooms are miniature rooms, designed to represent different countries, styles, and time periods. It’s every kid’s (or in my case, adult’s) dream to be able to go inside them once you see them. Malone takes it a step further with her books because Ruthie and Jack can actually time travel to the times the rooms are from as well.

If you have not read book 1, you might want to stop reading because I will spoil a bit of it in my review of book 2.

Book 1 was all about figuring out how to do things: how to shrink Ruthie and Jack, how to get from one corridor in one size to another corridor in another size, how to go back in time, how to not ruin history, how to get into certain doors, how to save lives, etc. They already know so much in the start of this second book.

Everything really begins with the two best friends having mixed feelings about leaving Jack’s bento box and letter behind in one of the rooms. When the kids go to get it back, there’s a response to their letter. Who wrote the response? Is it connected to the person who’s been leaving behind modern objects? Is it connected to an art thief? Is it a stranger, or is it someone they know and trust already?

The duo go into more rooms and do more time traveling. This time, they venture into the south, before the civil war and befriend a child slave. They also visit Paris just before World War II and meet a girl, escaping Germany with her Jewish family. There’s plenty of history. And now there’s the bonus of the mystery of the disappearing artifacts. Ruthie and Jack are more open about their secret than ever before, and this could be a good or a bad thing.

Before they know it, Ruthie and Jack are in a time crunch to get back to the rooms and save their new friends’ lives before they are prevented from going back into certain time periods ever again. Something they’ve learned about the rooms is that they are all very connected to certain objects; the objects allow for the time travel, so when objects go missing, so do their ability to walk out into different times and countries.

Almost all of the questions I had left over from book 1 have been answered. Certain characters that were only briefly mentioned in the first book, have a large role to play in this one. Also, this one had a lot more plot on Ruthie and Jack’s side of the rooms.  The things going on outside the Thorne rooms was actually more interesting than the history inside them for me this time. Things like the purse at the end of book 1 are addressed. And it was really so nice to learn so much more in a sequel and not to be left hanging quite as much.

The only thing I’m still aching to know more about is the magic involved in the creation of the rooms. And I’m seriously hoping that a book 3 is in the works!

Overall, this book was nothing but fun! Between the art heists, the surveillance cameras, the art, the history, the mystery, and the adventures, there never really was a moment I felt capable of putting the book down. This gets a 10/10 from me.

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