Title: Crystal Doors
Author: Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson
Gwen and Vic, “twin cousins” born five hours apart, are still recovering from the death of Gwen’s parents and the disappearance of Vic’s mother. Gwen is sunk in her grief, but Vic tries to go at life full-tilt—until an unexpected accident lands them both on the other side of a crystal door, clear in another world. Now in Elantya, an island nation, they must figure out a way to get home . . . if they can survive long enough to do so.
This was rough, but readable. After a somewhat bogged down beginning which tries to introduce a lot all at once and paints Gwen as a real downer, the story quickly picks up its pace and doesn’t let up. I really liked Elantya. It’s filled with a number of neat little gadgets and creatures, even if most of them only get a quick glimpse.
The ocean theme is carried well throughout the book, from the beginning in an oceanic fun park to the various facets of the island nation. Magic is heavily tied to crystals, and works by a combination of symbols, physical ingredients, and words. The doors between worlds and their associated Keys are a good way to explain not only how inter-world travel is possible, but also how it might be prevented. And I’m fond of shapeshifting, even if it is only the bad guys who get to have all the fun.
On the less enjoyable side, the book suffers from some puzzling plot decisions. Why, if the enemy is an underwater race that has just sunk a trading vessel, do people think it’s a good idea to send students out on an old training ship without any real preparation for being attacked? And it’s painfully obvious who the villain is since it’s the only person who isn’t nice to the main characters.
Overall, this is a rather predictable story, but the world is engaging. Gwen and Vic clearly have some destiny going on, but their powers have yet to show themselves (the potential test at the end was interesting, but no one really explained how you go from lighting up a crystal to determining that means you can train as a Key, or have telepathic powers, or whatnot). This does set up a series, but the plot wraps up for the most part. I rate this book Recommended.