Monday, June 20, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: No Passengers Beyond This Point

Title: No Passengers Beyond This Point
Author: Gennifer Choldenko (Dial Books, 2011)
From Goodreads:

Three siblings - India, Finn, and Mouse - have less than forty-eight hours to pack up all their belongings and fly, without Mom, to their uncle Red's in Colorado, after they lose their house to foreclosure. But when they land, a mysterious driver meets them at the airport, and he's never heard of Uncle Red. Like Dorothy in Oz, they find themselves in a place they've never heard of, with no idea of how to get home, and time is running out.

Opening Line: You have to wait for good things to happen--wait and wait and work so hard--but bad things occur out of the blue, like fire alarms triggered in the dead of night, blaring randomly, a shock of sound, a chatter of current from which there is no turning back."

My Review: Confession time. I haven't read Gennifer Choldenko's Al Capone books (although I have been to Alcatraz. Does that redeem me?) I know, I know: just what kind of Middle Grade Mafioso am I, really? But this cover looked alluringly shiny, so I snapped it up.

The first thing you have to know: Choldenko is a great writer. The opening line, quoted above, is lyrical--then we dive into a narrative which features not one, not two, but three first person narrators. There's 14-year-old India, who's got the sort of snotty attitude one might expect from a kid that age (I know of which I speak!) Her brother, 12-year-old Finn, is a thinker--and a little bit invisible to those around him. Little sister Mouse, all of six, is a bit of a savant, big on the solar system, and with an imaginary friend called Bing... but is he really imaginary? (Cue eerie music here).

Choldenko nails each of these voices and, in alternating chapters, reveals layer upon layer of mystery as the children deal with a strange alternate universe which moves from utopia to dystopia at a cracking pace. The clock really is ticking...

I found I couldn't put this book down. 5th graders on would love this, and there would be plenty to talk about, especially how the adventure changes the children in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. And the ending turns everything on its head.

If you're a reader, I bet you'll be carried away by the narrative's sheer drive. If you're a writer, I urge you to study this as a classic example of how multiple 1st POV works.


Other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday News:

Natalie Aguirre interviews Nathan Bransford HERE
Barbara Watson reviews Eileen Beha's Tango HERE
Joanne Fritz highlights The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness--with a giveaway! HERE 
Brooke Favero features the Goddess Girls series, with an interview with the authors. Click HERE
Shannon O' Donnell features The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, HERE


  1. It made me laugh to read you haven't read her Al Capone books. This sounds like a really fun book. I added it to my list to read. Thanks so much for the review.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, I'm going to look for this one.

  3. I loved Al Capone, so glad this one seems to be good too!

    And Ps - glad a found your blog!!!!

  4. Ooooo! This sounds great! (I haven't read her other books either, although my kids have). Thanks for the review.

  5. Love the opening line and the cover. Definitely going to be on the lookout for it.

  6. I too will snap this up. It sounds great. And confession time for me too--have not read her other books (yet) AND have not been to Alcatraz. So, possibly joining the MG Mafia--no go?

    p.s. you won the copy of LAST LOON!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Okay, so I published a comment and it had numerous typos. (Just woke up) Anyway, what I said was I had picked up the book for the same shiny cover. Then I read the first line and decided buy the book. Haven't read it just yet but now I'm looking forward to it.

  9. This'll have to go on the next to buy list.
    I have read Al Capone Does my Shirts and yes, I can't BELIEVE you haven't. *scoff*
    I also liked Notes from a Liar and Her Dog.

  10. Well, you know I loved this book! Reviewed it a while back and was lucky enough to meet the author! Glad to hear you loved it too!

  11. I heard her speak ages ago at the Beaverton Library when Notes from a Liar and her Dog was first out. She had lots of interesting things to say. And yes, I'll take a look as I am all about studying POV this summer.

  12. Okay, that does it. Ii keep hearing about this book, meaning to put it on my list--and forgetting. And now you've given me the scale-tipping reason to remember by talking about multiple POV and a surprising ending. Plan to read it, enjoy it, study it!

  13. I just ordered this book because I kept seeing the title pop up and always meant to read her Al Capone books as well.

    I write for MG and love the genre (just wish it had a catchier name though).

    My post today announces a new feature of my blog: a Monthly Book Giveaway. No Passenger Beyond This Point is my first prize! Here's at great chance at winning a free copy of this book.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Rahma Krambo
    Mystic Coffee


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