A gaggle of kids set out on a quest to save their world–and friendship–in this rambunctious children’s novel.
Brinda Arora is an ordinary fifth-grader–adventurous, ebullient, a bit egotistical–living in a not-so-ordinary Dream Universe, a.k.a. Druniverse, where magic mixes with advanced technology, including holographic telephones and gadgets that shrink and enlarge objects. Among a circle of friends known as the Hedrons–introverted Mellony, bossy know-it-all Alan, insecure Hailey, easily exasperated Matt–she’s the usual instigator, so she’s ready to go when they receive a mysterious message summoning them to join the Army Against Villains in the Rainbow Isles. It seems that the evil Nekrosis, defeated a thousand years ago by the Lord of Radiance, has risen from his slumber and is plotting to destroy the Druniverse. Pursued by Nekrosis’ henchmen, the kids commandeer a spaceship and journey through the Druniverse’s archipelago of wacky provinces. They encounter the Mist-Eaters of the Haze Realm, the soft and bouncy land of Safety-Cushy, the loquacious King Qaz of the island of Define-a-Word-Lexicon and the conceited Queen Picture-Perfect of the realm of Perfectia. As the Hedrons draw closer to Nekrosis’ lair, the challenges they face grow darker and more menacing, friendships fray under the stress, and Brinda’s leadership is questioned as her bottomless thirst for adventure lands the kids in one fine mess after another. Anasu concocts a teeming, lively fictive world stocked with colorful settings, amusing oddballs and intriguing conundrums. The novel feels like a cross between J.K. Rowling and Lewis Carroll, as staged by Bollywood. She strikes a nice balance between epic odyssey and comic mishap while exploring tween-aged preoccupations with friendship, personality clashes and group pecking orders. Young readers will enjoy the Hedrons’ frenetic escapades while learning about the purposes and pitfalls of confidence, humility, loyalty and camaraderie.
An engrossing fantasy that imparts lessons about real life.