Monday, May 21, 2018

The Story Thieves Series By James Riley

The Story Thieves series consists of the following books written by James Riley.

1.  Story Thieves, 2015
2.  The Stolen Chapters, 2016
3.  Secret Origins, 2017
4.  Pick the Plot, 2017
5.  Worlds Apart, 2018

It should be noted that the Story Thieves series is published by Simon and Schuster.  I find it odd, annoying, and infuriating that the rest of Simon and Schuster's juvenile series output is higher quality than the current output of the Nancy Drew franchise.

On January 13, I was in a bookstore, scanning the shelves to see if I could find another interesting modern series to try.  The first book in the Story Thieves series caught my eye, and I pulled it off the shelf.  The first sentence of the summary reads, "Life is boring when you live in the real world instead of starring in your own book series."  OMG.  What a dream!  Imagine being the star of your own book series!

If you have read the updates on my Facebook page, you know that my page is currently set as being a "book series" after Facebook arbitrarily changed it to that.  I ran with the idea of actually being a book series since several years back, an eBay seller made note of my extremely common name and generic city name and how I sounded like the title character in a juvenile series.  My first volume would be titled Jennifer White of Midwest City.  It's perfect, and it's the truth!

In Story Thieves, Owen learns that his friend, Bethany, is half-fictional.  Bethany's father is a fictional character who has been missing for years.  He presumably went back into a book, and Bethany spends her time jumping in and out of books as she tries to locate him.  Owen insists that Bethany jump the two of them into his favorite series, the Kiel Gnomenfoot series.  Spending some time in a Kiel Gnomenfoot book proves to be disastrous when fictional characters invade the real world in droves.

On page 8, Owen has to help clean up the library.
As usual, it was a mess, like a hurricane had plowed into a nuclear bomb right around the Rick Riordan books.  Owen sighed and dug in, pulling a few interesting books aside as he noticed them.  That was the only good part about cleanup—he'd sometimes find things that looked like a good read.
On page 236, Owen decides that he isn't enjoying being a part of the Kiel Gnomenfoot story like he thought he would.
Hopefully the book was almost done, because this was not turning out to be as much fun as he'd originally thought.  There was much less awesome magic and science, and way too much almost dying.  Had the books always been this dangerous?
On page 322, a fictional character resents the fact that people read about him in books.  Bethany explains to him why people read.
"I don't know if authors watch what you do on some kind of television in their brain, or make the stories up purely from their imaginations.  But we don't read about you because we're bored, or just to amuse ourselves.  We read about you to be with you, to walk in someone else's shoes, to experience another life.  Some of those lives are hard, and others are easy, but we're with you every step of the way.  We read about people in impossible situations because we're dealing with horrible things ourselves, in our lives. And you going through your story helps us with ours, no matter how yours ends. Though I do think we both like a happy ending, don't we?"
The rest of the series focuses on Owen and Bethany trying to halt the terrible events that were set in motion by the jump into the Kiel Gnomenfoot series.

In the second book, The Stolen Chapters, Owen becomes aware that a book has been written about his recent adventures, which of course is the first book in this series, Story Thieves.  The first book is pictured on the front cover of The Stolen Chapters.  Owen now worries constantly about whether everything he says and does is ending up in a book.  "And then the worst thing in the world occurred to him.  'Wait!  What about the bathroom?  They don't read about you going to the bathroom, do they?' "  Owen then goes on to remark, "Maybe that's why they never show people going to the bathroom in books?"

This made me laugh, since we do read about Nancy Drew going to the bathroom in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  That aside, books do not typically depict people going to the bathroom.  Simon and Schuster, please take note of that and consider omitting the bathroom scenes from future Nancy Drew books.  Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Each book in the Story Thieves series is based on a specific genre.  The second book is based on Sherlock Holmes, and Holmes is mentioned throughout the book.  The third book features comic books.  The fourth book, Pick the Plot, is based on Choose Your Own Adventure.  I was skeptical about Pick the Plot, since I was concerned that I could end up missing information depending upon which options were chosen.  I ended up greatly enjoying the book.  I took great pleasure in choosing every option, some of which ended up getting Owen killed.  My favorite is the one where the reader makes Owen hit himself in the face repeatedly.

Interestingly, at one point in Pick the Plot, the reader has the option to go to the distant past or into the future.  My concern about missing information was legitimate.  Since I chose both options, I am aware that some information is only given in one of the options, so readers do need to bookmark the page which has both options and do need to read both choices.

I did not enjoy the third or fifth books in the series, both of which are heavily based on comic books.  I'm not into the superhero thing, so I did not care for that aspect.  Actually, my main problem was not so much the comic book setting but that the stories became quite convoluted and confusing.  I couldn't keep up with much of what was happening, so I struggled with the books.  Since I was confused, I had trouble caring about what I was reading and was bored.

My opinion of this series is mixed.  The first, second, and fourth books are brilliant.  I love them and wouldn't mind reading them again someday.  I only somewhat enjoyed the third and fifth books.  Many readers really like the third and fifth books, so my opinion has to do with my personal preference.

I have read in multiple reviews that this series has been embraced by children, particularly boys, who are reluctant readers.  I highly recommend this series as one that might encourage children to read.  The books are a lot of fun.

No comments: