This latest installment of a YA saga places teen Librarians in the ultimate battle against sinister forces.
Eighteen-year-old Johanna Charette and 17-year-old Jackson Roth are co-curators of the Library of Illumination, where characters from books come to life. Their workplace is part of an interdimensional system of 13 Libraries, currently under siege by the militant Nero 51 of the realm Terroria. The tentacled dictator has invaded the realms of Mysteriose, Romantica, and Juvenilia (among others) to bring every Library under his bland control. His plan includes forcing the citizenry of these worlds into work camps and kidnapping the curators. But when he captures Johanna, he also grabs Cameron Thorne, dean of English at Cranford University, and Ophelia, a white kitten. On Earth (Fantasia), Jackson hopes to contact Johanna by writing to her in her magical diary. He’s consumed with worry for her and skips out on the Exeter High senior prom, which darkens the fates of his girlfriend, Emily Brent, and his friends Logan Elliott and Cassie Turner. Meanwhile, the hu*bots of Adventura must prevent solar storms from destroying their planet. Later, Master Ryden Simmdry and Pru Tellerence, both deans of the Prime Realm, reveal a startling secret that may help Johanna survive the final battle with the time-hopping Nero 51. In this epic excursion across the Illuminated worlds, Pack (Third Chronicles of Illumination, 2017, etc.) chops her story into fine bits—sometimes a single paragraph long—to cover the action on all fronts. Even her sharpest fans may need to reference the character index in the novel’s rear—though Thor, God of Thunder and Buffalo Bill Cody should need no reintroduction. Amid this detailed, often hectic sci-fi narrative, the plot threads of Pack’s high schoolers remain the most compelling. The Terrorians’ fear of cats is hilarious, but the drama wrought by Logan’s obsession with becoming a successful news intern—and reporting the Library to the world—is exceptional. Longtime readers may miss the intimacy of earlier volumes but should brace themselves for the darkest, most rewarding installment yet.
The complexity deepens in this kaleidoscopic adventure series.