What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created — the life that would’ve been had you made the other choice? What if those new realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?
Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is an average thirteen-year-old boy until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials “M.G.,” the letter informs Tick that dangerous — perhaps even deadly — events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen. Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? Will Tick discover the life he was meant to live?
*Thank you to the publisher, Sweet Cherry, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Thirteen-year-old boy Atticus “Tick” Higginbottom received a strange, cryptic letter from the mail one day. The letter comes all the way from Alaska but he doesn’t know anyone from there aside from his dad’s aunt and he’s pretty sure the letter was not sent by her. So, who is M.G. who’s claiming that something dangerous, deadly even, is about to happen and he’ll need the help of someone like Tick to save the world? Whatever he means by that. If he’s up to the challenge, he has to wait for 12 more letters and solve the clues within. Clues that are so important and will reveal certain place, date and time, and what he has to do. However, only deserving individuals will be able to make it until the end. If he doesn’t want to get involved and wish to quit, he can also easily do so. The instruction is simple, just burn the first letter and the rest of the clues will stop coming. All of it sounds crazy to Tick but he can’t deny that he’s curious and excited, too. And so, he didn’t burn the letter. Besides, he wanted to know if it’s real or just some kind of a prank. When the next letter bearing the first clue comes, Tick is certain everything is for real and he’ll see to it that he’ll solve all the clues until the end. But the letters don’t only bear clues, along with it is a warning that if he decided to continue, his safety is at risk. Not long after, Tick started seeing creepy things, encountered bizarre creatures and has been attacked a few times. It looks like Tick not only have to solve the clues, he also has to make sure to stay alive until the end. But is it worth all the trouble?
The Journal of Curious Letters is a science fiction book and is the first of The 13th Reality series that is targeted more for middle graders, though talks of quantum physics and alternate realities might confuse the younger readers. Nevertheless, it is a fun start for the series and turned out to be unexpectedly an enjoyable read. It is engaging and the characters are likeable enough. I love knowing Tick. He’s smarter than most of his age and despite having no friends and being bullied constantly, he still has a positive disposition. He is kind, determined and brave yet there’s still room for character development which was nicely done. The side characters are okay and some turned out to be interesting. Some names can be over the top, though.
I especially enjoyed the challenging clues to solve and the word plays are absolutely brilliant. I also like that Tick has a great relationship with his family and confided to his dad everything that is happening. His dad even helped him with the clues and solving the mysteries surrounding the curious letters. It is refreshing to see a supportive family, something that is not popular in other books with the same theme and genre. The pacing is steady and the buildup for the important event is good. I was just a bit disappointed by the number of kids who passed the challenge. I expected a lot more.
It is easy to see how some adults may not like the simplicity of the writing and how things slowly played out, but considering the target readers, it’s understandable. I had a great time reading the book and I enjoy the humor, the adventure, and the mixture of fantasy and science. It is entertaining and no doubt a kind of book younger readers will appreciate.