New Year's Eve, 2019. Mari Stratton attends a New Year's Eve party with her brother Randall and her hearing-impaired friend Lauren. A collecting game begins in the dark fields outside prior to the celebration countdown. When midnight strikes, Mari finds herself and four others propelled by a violent green storm into a confusing landscape of beauty, danger, and mystery. In this place, ruthless black-cloaked riders on horseback called Shifters comb the countryside hunting them down. Why is this world patterned after the things Mari adores, and why does it feature the hideous things she fears the most? More importantly--how will she and the others get back to the real world?
Junction 2020 Book 1: The PortalFeatured
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, 2019, adolescents Mari, her brother Randall, her best friend Lauren, her frenemy Stefanie, and Stefanie’s boyfriend Tony are sucked into a portal and transported to a world full of danger. They find they all bear the same brand, a mysterious symbol, on their arms. Mari soon discovers, much to her dismay, that the landscape of this world, and some of the nasties that inhabit it, are very familiar… namely, because they are creatures from straight out of her nightmares.
What I loved:
Though the notion of kids being transported to another world/dimension is not exactly new, I appreciated the imagination Carol Riggs put into creating her own spin on it. Mari is a very good character, and readers will identify with her because she’s just so ordinary – she has no special skills, powers, or knowledge to help her and her friends survive in this world. She is not the classic YA “Chosen One”.
I also liked how the antagonists of the story, the black-clad Shifters, were not written as faceless baddies, but given a backstory that makes them sympathetic. I did not expect that!
What I didn’t love:
I’m led to understand that there will be five books in this series, with each of the five main characters getting the POV in one book each. That’s an interesting idea, but I would have liked a lot more character development from the four characters that weren’t Mari. In the story, Mari is separated from them early on and has little contact with them throughout the book. I’m also not wild about the insta-crush Mari develops on the first cute guy she meets, and the predictable way that particular plot development played out.
A lot of questions were asked, and very few were answered. Developing the other characters would have given me motivation to continue the series, but it didn’t happen. The story also ends very abruptly
My Final Verdict:
The story moves at a fast pace, lending to a quick read. For this reason, I may move on to Nightmare Realization, Book Two in the series (Tony’s POV). I would hope, moving forward, that we get a little more face-time with the remaining characters, and having some of the burning questions answered.