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The Divide (2003)

by Elizabeth Kay

Other authors: Ted Dewan (Illustrator)

Series: Divide (1)

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7621124,627 (3.72)23
While hiking on the Continental Divide of Costa Rica, a young boy with a heart condition falls into a magical otherworld full of fantastical creatures.

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» See also 23 mentions

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this was a fun little series. Fantasy, traveling between real world and fantasy world. ( )
  RobertaLea | May 14, 2020 |
A boy with a serious heart condition goes on vacation to Costa Rica where he wants to see the continental divide. While there he passes out, as his condition causes him to do often, but when he awakens he finds himself in a different world where unicorns, elves and magic are real and humans and science are the things of myth. This was a fun book. It was well suited for the young side of the young adult spectrum. I love the idea of the world and all of the mythical creatures. It was a fun twist to have humans be the mythical creature. The social commentary was a little obvious but well suited for the age group it targets. It brought up issues of medical ethics, the power and responsibility of the press, and making your own destiny that would be good discussions to continue with kids that have read the book. I would recommend this to young teens or tweens that enjoy magical worlds. ( )
  Cora-R | Jul 31, 2019 |
Felix is 13, but looks younger as he has a heart condition -- and he's in Costa Rica because he wanted to go somewhere exciting "before he died". As he stands on the divide -- between the Atlantic and Pacific -- he passes out -- and at the moment he passes into an alternate world, a world where he is a mythical creature and all the mythical creatures of our world exist -- with funny names. Griffins are called Brazzles there, Unicorns are called Brittlehorns, Elves are called Tangle-people, etc. Felix meets up with a brazzle called Ironclaw and a Tangle-person called Betony -- and together they rescue that world from an unscrupulous merchant foisted untried pharmaceuticals on the public -- and manage to find a cure for Felix's heart problems. Modern lessons in a pre-technological, mythical society. (e.g., that world doesn't know what printing is -- unless someone reads a book Felix brought across with him). Sequels....

The theme of the sickly child who is cured by entering an alternate world is similar Stravaganza by Mary Hoffman. ( )
  katie | Apr 7, 2013 |
Felix's days are very numbered. He has a disease thet's not supposed to keep him living for very much longer. On a vacation to Coasta Rica, Felix looks onto the Contenental Divide, and accidently get transported to a universe where everything mythical is real and everything real is mythical, including humans. And now Felix has just days to live, unless he can get help from a tangle-child (elf) and a brazzle (gryphon).

In this world, besides anything magical, all technology is primative. In fact, the Divide is starting to get more technology and at least some science instead of using magic all the time. And almost all the tangle-people and other creatures. have all intellegence and emotions of humans, and unfortunately, all the greed and corruptness. A business leader named Snakeweed is selling untested potions that turn out to be poisonous in hope to get rich and rule the Divide. And now Felix is now commited to stop Snakeweed too.

This is a book for young readers, but there is some delight in the book. The concept is pretty good and if there is anybody 12 or 13-ish who loves Mythology, then I can guarantee they would love this book by Elizabeth Kay. ( )
  DragonFreak | Jan 7, 2011 |
Felix has a rare, serious heart condition. He pesters his parents to take him somewhere exciting before he dies: Costa Rica. When Felix breaks away from them to explore the Continental Divide, he realises he’s pushed himself too far. But when he awakens from his faint, he is in an entirely different world. Here, mythological creatures and races exist, magic is commonplace; and conversely, no-one really believes in human beings, and everyone is in awe of Felix’s basic scientific instruments.

There are two main quests in this story which occupy Felix’s mind: 1) how to get home and 2) how to manage his disease while isolated from modern medicine. Although he meets and befriends a young tangle-child named Betony shortly after his arrival, she is frequently surprised by how touchy he can be about the subject of death. However it does not take her too long to decide on the advantages of accompanying Felix, in the name of an adventure she could never hope for in her native provincial Geddon.

In addition to Felix’s appearance, there is conflict shaping up in this peaceful land. A japegrin named Snakeweed has decided that the time has come to make a quick buck He is working on developing a range of medicines, but his methods are underhanded and his products often untested on the full range of species he is offering to sell them to. Betony comes from a community of herbalists, and her two older siblings find themselves initially unimpressed by Snakeweed’s presentation, then eventually determined to discredit him and his products.

The world that Felix crosses into is not named, but is similar to Felix’s (and our) own in many ways. Technological and industrial advancement is way behind ours, however, as perhaps can be expected when the inhabitants are relying on magic rather than science. Felix is surprised to find, for example, that Betony has never heard of the idea of farming, and can’t understand the point of the concept of a ‘country’. In Betony’s world, the king and queen’s main function is to dance and sing, and Felix can’t help noticing that there may be advantages to this type of system, too.

This world has its own distinctive geography and habitation patterns. Only certain areas are inhabited by brittlehorns; and the brazzles that agree to help Felix are reluctant to land in one particular city for fear of being too conspicuous this far from their usual habitat. In addition, in the city of Tiratattle, where much of the story’s action takes place, different parts of town are favoured by different dominant races. This leads to Felix and his new-found friends often having to disguise themselves, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

I found this book enjoyable because of the way it responds to traditional fantasy stereotypes: although many ‘mythological’ creatures are present in this story, the author has introduced some entirely new ‘shadow-beasts’ as well. Conversely, there are creatures from our world that have no identifiable parallel beyond the Divide, although the ‘humungally’ (elephant) is popular in the fairy tales of several of the intelligent races of Betony’s world. I highly recommend this book to all enthusiastic readers, for great ideas, a few laughs, and because it’s got such a dinky cover!
  mybookshelf | Jul 31, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Kayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dewan, TedIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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While hiking on the Continental Divide of Costa Rica, a young boy with a heart condition falls into a magical otherworld full of fantastical creatures.

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