Sunday, March 23, 2014


Title : The Riverman
Author : Aaron Starmer
Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date :  March 18th 2014
Source : Netgalley
Rating :  4.5 /5


"To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here's mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger."

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.

My thoughts

We've all used our imaginations during our childhood ,current children still do and future ones will do the same. As we grow older were confronted with reality and the fantasies , forts build out of pillows and blankets and playing with stuffed animals stops and fades away. Of course authors never lose this marvelous thing. Though some are better then others . The riverman is a tale of the girl who imagined, the boy who wants to believe - beliefs and at the same still remains sceptic and that mysterious evil that steals all .Both real and imaginative .

You should not judge a book by its cover but I do anyway , from time to time and requested The riverman on NG for that sole reason .So glad I got approved. The riverman is about Fiona loomis and Alistair Cleary who were once close friends when they were younger . But now at the age of 12 in 1989 , they have drifted apart like some friends do when growing up. On a particular day in October Fiona needs his help to save Aquavania and stop the Riverman. Ooh , how I like Alistair . In A very skeptic way Alistair listens to her and tries to play along and helps her . He tries to figure it out but can't figure it out if it's real or not and starts to believe , still a skeptic thought remains. The story of Fiona loomis in Aquavania is written anecdotally and in the 3rd person. In this way it does not feel like there was any info dumping and it could be seen as the detachment from Alistair from what Fiona tells him.


The main characters are Fiona , Alistair and Charlie , who's Alistair best friend. I will mention my thoughts of them briefly.

Alistair is the one I could so relate with. He feels like an outsider and is friend with Charlie not because Charlie is that good of a friend but because it is convenient and Alistair is scared that he will lose that only friend if he demands Charlie to be better friend . When they hang around they only do what interests Charlie and that is playing video games. Alistair has certain maturity to him but you can still see he is still a child. I loved his eye for detail and observation. Also he's a kind kid that gets in though situations in this book but still keeps his head in the mid of it.

I've had some difficulty with Charlie. He's the resident cat lady or rather cat boy and gets bullied because of it but he does not give a kaka about that. I've had sympathy for him but along the way my liking for him changes. A mix between hatred , confusion and sympathy after the things he did and a accident that happened to him . He will be an interesting character to watch in the other two books of this trilogy.

And finally Fiona . She is very mysterious and once you think you know her , she does something unexpected . And this puzzling ambiance of her makes Alistair fall in love with her but at a steady pace. You don't really get to know Fiona at all but only see glimpses of her and this quote explains her perfectly .

She left reminders of herself, but she didn't leave herself, and I was sick of it.

I hope we get to know more of her in future books .

Ok , I was never really scared of the big kahuna . The riverman only appears at the last 30 pages but the tension is creepy and unnerving. I don't know a lot about him but I put him the same class of that of count Olaf.

The setting

Yes we get to know about Aquavania , it is fantastical and anything you can dream of can happen it but what drew me in the first place starting from page one is the town of Thessaly. I've always loved the small town feeling in books maybe because of the reason that Paramaribo , Suriname has that same atmosphere. Thessaly has that close knit community and even has a Christmas tree with lights that represent every Thessaly originated battle perished soldier. That's really cool is you ask me. This is middle grade book but an amount of darkness is present. There are mentions of sex, trailer parks, drugs , vandalism and even an scene were someone tells about murder that was committed. This book is not for the smaller of the smalls but more for upper middle grade and even an upper YAer or Adult can read it .

A younger person will enjoy the marveling Aquavania and an Adult has an coming of age book to come too. This book tells you about death in some way or an other , that living in a fantasy world or using your imagination is fine and dandy but that you should break from that and be in the present as well. I can't wait for the sequels and hoping to get ahold of Mr starmer previous books. I hope you will enjoy this mysterious , magical , grounded and smart middle grade book that people from different ages will get something out of. I will not easily forget about


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