Saturday, January 31, 2009

Over the Sea by Sherwood Smith

Over the Sea

Over the Sea: CJ's First Notebook
by Sherwood Smith

Trade Paperback: 257 pages
Publisher: YA Angst
First Released: 2007

Author Website

Source: Bought from Books-A-Million

Back Cover Blurb:
Clair traveled about looking for girls who needed a home. She even came to Earth, where she found CJ, who did not fit. CJ found herself not only taken to another world to live, but she became the princess—Clair's "left hand splat." One of her jobs as princess was to write down their records. Another was to serve as leader for the girls when Clair was busy learning to become queen.

The girls had jobs too, as they discovered villains who thought it their business to take a kingdom away from a mere girl. From the shadowy Kwenz, a powerful mage with a very wicked past, to the usurper Glotulae and her son Prince Jonnicake, who in their ridiculous way were just as determined to boot Clair out, there were plenty of chances for adventure. And mystery, like why did kids from other times and worlds show up every now and then?

These are the early stories—how Clair found her gang of girls, and how "the M girls" developed the fine art of the Duel to the Pie.

Like Senrid, I think this story will appeal more to tweens and teens than adults. The kid heroes deal with their problems in very kid ways. The characters found clever ways to beat back the bad guys without using deadly force, which was fun.

Incidentally, we learn in this book how to pronounce many of the unpronounceable names also used in Senrid, but I wouldn't say reading Over the Sea otherwise made understanding Senrid easier.

This book is less polished than Crown Duel, but the writing is good and the story is much easier to follow than in Senrid. The pacing was good, the world building was very good, and the characters were very fun and interesting.

Incidentally, this book is really a series of sequential short stories about the adventures of the same characters (like a TV series) rather than a traditional novel. It's not problem, just an observation.

Overall, I'd rate this book as "good, clean fun."

Excerpt: Chapter One
In the beginning I lived on Earth.

Now, Earth is a big world, full of people, many of whom are happy and content and would never spend one moment thinking about other worlds, much less wanting to go to one.

Well, I wasn't one of those people.

I was eight years old, and I did not fit.

There was nothing dramatically wrong. Nothing what they called criminal in those days. Since that time I've met people--from several worlds--who were born into what anyone anywhere would call Evil and Doomed. Me, the first biggest problem was that I never really felt safe at home but everywhere else I went I felt like an outsider. Second, I did not like the things that everyone else seemed to like, or value what others valued. And what I liked and valued either got me laughed at, or punished.

So--third--I read a lot in order to find places in the imagination that weren't like where I lived, since I couldn't get free any other way. But almost every book I read, every adult I listened to--well, even kids--worked hard to convince me that "belonging" was my duty, and I ought to work hard to fit myself into the world I'd been born.

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