I saw this one when we were vacationing at DisneyWorld in October 07, but passed on it. However, when I saw an autographed copy at Borders, and I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I had to buy it. (I'm a sucker for autographed books.)
A very fast read, it's obviously young adult fiction, not really intended for a sophisticated reader. (I'd like to think I am one - maybe not terribly discerning, but I've read a ton of fiction.) It's a cool premise, that these junior high kids (I think that was the age group of Finn, Maybeck and friends) become the models for holographic guides to the Magic Kingdom. And it's also a cool premise that Disney villains could come to life. That part of the book, where they discuss with the old Imagineer Wayne about what happens to those villains, the power behind stories, belief and ideas, seemed to me to be the most sophisticated part of the book and the part that got me excited to read the rest.
But then what happened????
(possible spoilers ahead...)
Pearson is a better writer and plotter than this, I thought. I haven't read much of his adult fiction (or his juvenile stuff), but after such a promising start and buildup, the way he ends this book, spewing loose ends along the way and never bothering to tie them up in any satisfactory way, really made me feel cheated. I don't care if you're a teen reader or an adult, a good story needs a solid, well thought out ending, and this one didn't have it.
Who the heck were some of these people? We never find out. Why were they in the story? What were the relationships between them? Where did they go? I am not talking about Finn and his fellow DHI's, I'm referring to Amanda and Jez (Jess) mostly, and to the villains themselves. The only one that ends up front and center is the witch Malificent. Are there more Overtakers? Who are they? A lot of things are alluded to, but not explained enough, or even acknowledged in the end.
If he's setting up a sequel, it might work. I might buy it, but I'm more likely to check it out of the library. But even if he's doing that, there's a better way to end something like this.
(Can you tell that the ending bothered me?)
I read some other threads hereabouts, and didn't seem to note any complaints about this stuff, so maybe I'm overreacting. But I think not. I went back and reread the last several pages because I believed that I must have missed something important, but I didn't.
This may be the worst ended book I've ever finished. And that is saying a lot...