Goodreads: More Than Magic
Things have been different since Ryder’s mom unexpectedly passed away. But she never dreamed that her dad would start dating a horrible woman named Bernice, who has equally horrible daughters. Or that Bernice would want her dad to change Rory–the cartoon character created by her parents. Rory is an eleven-year-old fighter who wields her bow and sword with deadly accuracy, always saving the day. Now Bernice thinks Rory should give up her weapons and become a princess! Then, suddenly, Rory is in Ryder’s room asking for help. Can Ryder and her friends enter the virtual world and save Rory from being rewritten?
I love a good world-crossing story and this one has the novelty of featuring a trip into the world of animation rather than into the pages of a story. The book began promisingly with an intimate look at the love between Ryder and her father, as well as the introduction of her grandmother, a woman of wisdom who also enjoys a little fun. Unfortunately, a lack of logic and structure ultimately left me disappointed.
Many middle-grade books show a casual disregard for logic, especially those governing politics or social mores. (I’m thinking Tuesdays in the Castle, Mister Max, The Mysterious Howling, and The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre to start.) This does not necessarily bother me. The target audience is unlikely to know or care about how governesses in Victorian England ought to speak or act and perhaps they don’t want the rules of foreign diplomacy to get into the way of a good story, either. So even though the explanations of how the characters jumped realms through the Ethernet and managed to create change by doing some programming within the animated world were quite hand-wavy, I was willing to overlook this. The important part is that world jumping happens.
I was much more bothered by the lack of transitions within the story. Characters regularly jump from our world to the animated world without any indication that they have done so. Characters new to the world jumping thing evince less surprise when they arrive there without any explanation or preparation than I felt while trying to figure out what had just happened. Even though everyone arrives in the animated world as themselves, at one point one character seems to transform into an owl when she crosses over. This is neither mentioned nor explained. Just suddenly she’s flying. Furthermore, each chapter focuses on a different character’s perspective. Not all of them are labelled so it might take awhile to figure out if Ryder or Rory is speaking. It doesn’t help that their names both begin with the same letter. In fact, Lasky seems to get them confused sometimes when they’re speaking to each other. It might be Ryder’s turn to speak according to the punctuation, but the words seem to apply to something Rory would say!
This was all very confusing and difficult to overlook in the end when you consider that the antagonist was rather weak and actually provided no obstacles to the happy conclusion of the story. A few minor villains were easily disposed of by taking calmly to them and helping them understand that doing evil is wrong and they don’t really want to do wrong, do they? Perhaps a nice message but not overly believable. In the end, the one strong part of the story are the characters, who are funny and delightful. I only wish they had been given a better story to star in.