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THRESHOLDS by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

THRESHOLDS

By Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-06319-2
Publisher: Viking

Maya, a budding artist, is still grieving her best friend’s death when her family moves to Oregon. From her new bedroom, she sketches the odd but intriguing residents of the Janus Apartments next door. One night a puzzling, fairylike creature strays into her room. Soon Maya discovers that two of the new neighbors, fellow seventh graders Benjamin and Gwenda, know something about it. Although they’re classroom pariahs, Maya befriends them and another school misfit, Travis, and the three come to her aid after she unwittingly agrees to incubate an extraterrestrial embryo. As Maya is drawn into a complicated conflict between mysterious powers, the embryo hatches. While her artistic gifts are useful, Maya’s specialness appears accidental, not preordained, making her a refreshing departure from “Chosen One” heroes. This series opener by a seasoned author takes off slowly, with clichéd plot setup and flat characterization, but adroit, multistranded storytelling saves the day. Once the alien happenings commence, the novel quickly gains altitude, achieving orbit somewhere between fantasy and science fiction, well positioned to explore the opportunities each presents. (Fantasy. 10-14)