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The Riverman (The Riverman Trilogy) by Aaron…

The Riverman (The Riverman Trilogy)

by Aaron Starmer

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1591075,058 (3.75)2

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THIS IS A mixture fantasy and realistic fiction. for me the fantasy part was just too out there. ( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
This was a dark and disturbing, but well written story. It's on my Printz list as the content pushes it well out of Newbery territory. ( )
  EmilyRokicki | Feb 26, 2016 |
Alistair Cleary used to play with Fiona Loomis when they were little kids, but over the past several years, they have drifted apart. And then Fiona comes to Alistair and tells him that she has chosen him to write her biography. The story that Fiona has to tell is weird and scary, and Alistair starts to wonder what she's trying to tell him. Is Fiona's tale of a magical world and a menacing villain really a cry for help related to real-world events?

This is a book that's difficult to review, and even difficult to categorize. I might call it a fantasy, but it's possible, based on how you interpret the story, that the fantasy elements are all in the characters' heads. I'm impressed at the writing in this book, but frustrated by the ambiguity of the ending. I also feel that setting the book in the '80s is a cop-out -- perhaps this is just my own reluctance at accepting that my childhood is fast approaching the realm of historical fiction for today's readers. But I can't find a compelling reason for choosing that setting, so I suspect there's an element of nostalgia to it. Other reviewers love, love, love this book, so I'm questioning my own reading of it: did it just go over my head? Is it just not my thing -- too dark and gritty for me? I mean, I adored last year's Far Far Away which also had fantasy mixed with dark real-world stuff. Did I miss some key paragraph that should have made everything clear to me? I don't know. It's not that I don't recommend it -- if it sounds appealing to you, definitely give it a try. It didn't work well for me, but I recognize that it has some excellent elements, and that some readers will appreciate it much more than I ever will. ( )
  foggidawn | May 7, 2014 |
Adult Worthy~

**Starred Review** Kirkus
**Starred Review** GoodBooksforKids (booksforkids-reviews.com)

THE RIVERMAN was amazing. I received it as a review copy and I have to say that it's one of the best books I read this year. And if I get a chance again in my schedule, I'd love to read it again.  It was that good!

It all sounds rather sweet at first. There's a small town where children bike in the summer and throw rocks and do the things that are reminiscent of gentler times. But it all goes scary and scarier when a girl named Fiona Loomis asks 12 year old Alistair Cleary to write her biography.

It's such a curious request that Alistair agrees. And that is how he discovers that there's a land called Aquavania and that Fiona and other children have been escaping there on-and-off for months. It's a wonderful place on the surface of it. A place to get away, where every imagining can come true. ONLY there's a problem. The Riverman.  As Fiona spins the tale she tells of how the Riverman is stalking her -- threatening to suck her soul out with a straw.

The wonderful, wonderful part of this story is that like Alistair it's difficult to tell how 'disturbed' Fiona is. And thus we follow Alistair as he waits and watches and tries to find Fiona's real world threat.  He's down to studying the relatives that Fiona lives with, when his own life becomes jeopardized.

So I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THE RIVERMAN.  It's a layered story that is very well written. The author captures the feel of growing up in a small town, and he draws the characters --good, bad, first- and second-string-- perfectly.  Alistair and Fiona's relationship is realistic and charming. And perhaps most importantly, it's not clear what's real and what's fantasy --who or what the danger is.

Creepy enough for adults and young adults. It might be too intense for some middle-graders.

  PamFamilyLibrary | Apr 2, 2014 |
Alistair Cleary, a 12 year old boy from small town Thessaly New York, narrates his own story and the story of his community. The story begins with the acknowledgement, true enough, that all towns have experienced the loss of a child, and Alistair tells of his small part in the story of Luke Drake, who drowned in 1979. Alistair is a bright kid but somewhat of a loner. Charlie, an odd ball of a neighbor, has declared himself best friends with Alistair, but Alistair's closest friend as the story progresses becomes the singular young girl who lives down the street, Fiona Loomis.

Fiona chooses Alistair, just as Charlie does, but she chooses him because he is trustworthy and she has a serious story to tell. She is a no-nonsense type of girl and tells Alistair that she chooses him to write her biography, including her secret life in Aquavania. In Aquavania, Fiona's imagination is the only limitation to what and who she meets there, that is, until she discovers a neighboring land that is the product of another child's imagination.

Alistair (and the readers) spend the rest of the book figuring out if Aquavania is real, merely a product of Fiona's rich imagination, or perhaps the reshaping of memories too horrible to face head on.

Even as Fiona slowly tells her story, life continues to happen in Thessaly. Charlie experiences a serious injury, his older brother Kyle, who is always just a step ahead of the authorities, befriends Alistair, trusting him with some pretty deep plans of his own. Seems like both Charlie and Fiona are products of pretty dysfunctional families.

What is real and what is not becomes even foggier, as Fiona's stories of Aquavania take on an ominous tone, with real people from the "real" world disappearing from Aquavania. And even more frightening, Alistair and Fiona come to believe that the villain of Aquavania, The Riverman, is someone they know from the real world. Only thing is, they suspect different people.

A mystery, a fantasy, just scary enough, and not to mention just enough bathroom humor to remind you that this is after all, written for middle schoolers, this story is richly drawn and is anything but predictable as it draws to a close. Lots of rich opportunities for group discussion after all is said and done. Kids and adults alike have plenty to ponder, perhaps hoping that author Aaron Starmer will delve deeper into the lives of the folks in Thessaly, particularly those who choose to spend time in Aquavania, in a second book.

Read this one friends, and let's talk about it! ( )
  vcg610 | Mar 24, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374363099, Hardcover)

Alistair Cleary is the kid who everyone trusts. Fiona Loomis is not the typical girl next door. Alistair hasn't really thought of her since they were little kids until she shows up at his doorstep with a proposition: she wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into the mind of a potentially troubled girl. Fiona says that in her basement, there’s a portal that leads to a magical world where a creature called the Riverman is stealing the souls of children. And Fiona’s soul could be next. If Fiona really believes what she’s saying, Alistair fears she may be crazy. But if it’s true, her life could be at risk. It’s up to Alistair to separate fact from fiction, fantasy from reality.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:21 -0400)

"The first book in a trilogy about a girl who claims she is visiting a parallel universe where a nefarious being called The Riverman is stealing the souls of children and the boy she asks to write her biography because she fears her soul may be next"--… (more)

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