I got this book as an ARC (advanced readers copy) from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. The review of this book is easy - it was great. I think there is so much going for this book that I can't wait for a sequel (please write a sequel).
Darwen Arkwright is a twelve year old boy who has been sent from England to live with his aunt in Atlanta. He's not adjusting well but when he is given a mirror that allows him to travel to another world things start to look up for him, until he starts school. Darwen's aunt is sending him to a private school that looks a little like Stepford. The teachers hate hime and the students don't get him. He does make two great friends (sounds a little like Harry Potter but that's the only similarity).
There is so much going on in this book. It's never boring. There's so much action and emotion. I could see this book used in discussions and classroom settings as much as entertainment. There are plenty of themes to make it interesting. There's environment and history. One of Darwen's friends is a history buff but the teachers/principal feel that they are only supposed to look towards the future. Darwen says a great thing at the end (paraphrasing) - we have to hold on to the past and look towards the future. It's an amazing thought.
I could gush about this book for days but I worry about sharing too much of the intricate plot. It has a lot of twists and turns but you never feel lost. This will be a great book for boys but I think girls will find the female characters easy to identify with.
I think what I like best about the main characters is that they all have different family structures and backgrounds. They may come across as misfits but we are no longer the nuclear family sort of culture and it was nice to see that all the children have different things they struggle with at home.
Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pack hits shelves in October 2011. I highly recommend find a copy to enjoy.