Classics 1: Strange Journey Back

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Essential Facts:
Writer: Paul McCusker

Mark Prescott thinks it was his fault his dad left and that's why he and his mom had to move to the small town of Odyssey. Mark hates being a newcomer. He's not thrilled about his only new friend being a girl. That is, until Patti tells him about a time machine at Whit's End. Mark figures that's the answer to all his problems. If he can only go back in time to the day his dad left. But first he's got to get past the time machine's eccentric inventor, "Whit." As Mark's adventures unfold, he learns lessons about friendship, responsibility, and living with change


Mark Prescott, Patti Eldridge, Whit, Joe Devlin, Richard Prescott, Julie Prescott, Emma Douglas, Tom Riley, George Baldwin, Billy McPherson, Mr. Moorhead, Joe Hirschman, Kenny Ellis, Karen Sizer


SPOILER WARNING!  This first book is filled with various annoyances and leads up to one huge disappointment.  It was not a good way to begin the AIO book series, and thankfully all AIO books after it were better stories.

Some of the main problems with this story involve anachronisms. The biggest involve the Imagination Station.  Simply, it should not exist yet.  The books supposedly take place before the audio series, but the IS was created during the course of the audio series.  Additionally, the Imagination Station in the book seems to be presented as a time machine.  It is explained many times in the audio series that the Station is NOT a time machine.  It simply enables you to use your imagination to another degree.  In the book, the Station works almost nothing like the Imagination Station that we know.

Another major problem with the story is that it all leads up to Mark's journey in the Station and when it actually occurs, the whole thing is a washout.  Mark barely makes it to the goal before he is whisked out of the Station without much of a conclusion given to the story.  We aren't given much of a resolution or anything to chew on mentally after the story is over.

Other problems are present throughout.  Tom Riley is presented as an "inventor's apprentice" of sorts to Whit, a role he never fit into in the audio series.  Then there are the illustrations.  Perhaps they were put in to keep younger readers interested, but they often give away surprises.  At the beginning of chapter four, there is a picture of Tom Riley using a squirt gun.  Most of chapter four builds up to the possibility that Tom is going to shoot Matt.  The illustration completely ruins this surprise.  Granted, fans of the audio series know that Tom could have no such intentions, not to mention the fact that the incident is lifted right from Waylaid in the Windy City.

The book contains passing references to other things that will be very important later in Odyssey: Emma Douglas, the Israelites, the tunnel under Whit's End, and even Billy MacPhearson, but so what?  The book is a big disappointment for me.  Thankfully, the other books were far better.

Rating: 1 1/2 stars


Contains an Imagination Station adventure.

book1.jpg (10562 bytes)There are two different versions of the cover of this book.  Here is the original cover


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