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The Lighthouse Land


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Gr 6-9-Thirteen-year-old Jamie O'Neill and his mother leave New York City's Harlem for an island off the coast of Ireland, where Jamie discovers that he's a lord, a descendant of the Irish Kings. Despite his muteness after losing his left arm to bone cancer, he befriends talkative, clever Ramsay. While exploring a 1000-year-old lighthouse, the boys find an ancient gold object that lets them travel to an alien planet light-years away. On Altair, a pointed-eared, eight-fingered girl named Wishaway is awaiting the return of Lord Ui Neill, whom she believes will save her world from invaders from the Alkhavans, who travel in iceships and enslave the people they conquer. Jamie finds that on Altair he still has his arm and can speak. The planet is technologically stuck in 1607 due to a scarcity of natural resources, so Jamie and Ramsay use their knowledge of chemistry to show the citizens how to make "Greek Fire" (sulfur, quicklime, and petroleum) to burn their enemies' iceships. Before they can begin to fight, everyone on the planet starts getting ill. Will they find a cure and can they defeat the Alkhavans? This science-fiction adventure story has an interesting setting. However, the plot lacks a sense of real conflict, the ending is resolved too neatly, and all but the main characters lack depth.-Sharon Rawlins, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

McKinty, previously known for adult crime novels, brings an attuned ear for dialogue and a taut pacing to his first YA outing, the launch title in the Lighthouse Trilogy. Thirteen-year-old Jamie O'Neill lost his arm in cancer surgery a year ago, and has not spoken a word since. During that time, his father also left the family to marry again and settle in Seattle. Jamie's life of near-poverty with his single mother changes dramatically with the arrival of a letter, informing his mother that she has inherited a lighthouse estate in Ireland, and the 10-acre island on which it rests. By the second chapter, Jamie and his mother are living in their new home, and have learned that Jamie will become a laird (or lord) on his 18th birthday. In a hidden chamber within the lighthouse, Jamie discovers a strange device that teleports him and his new friend Ramsay to Aldan, a city "ninety-six light-years" away. There a girl named Wishaway informs him he is the prophesied savior come to rescue her people from the invading iceships of Alkhava. But the attack is already underway, and the residents of Aldan are taken captive to be sold as slaves. Jamie leads a resourceful counterattack, and while the action will keep the pages turning, it is the dialogue between Jamie and Ramsay, replete with pop-culture references, that makes this such an enjoyable trip. An intelligent, open-ended mythology allows for additions to the series, but this volume solidly stands on its own. Ages 11-15. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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