My maiden book review on this blog is J Adams’ young adult fantasy, The Journey, and what a way to begin! They say you can’t tell a book by its cover, but with this book you can. The cover promises beauty, danger, and things—good or ill?--hidden from view, yet to be discovered.
The book was all of that. Much as C. S. Lewis did with his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, creating an allegory of The Atonement that can also be read simply as an intriguing fantasy, J. Adams has written a beautiful allegory based on one of the most basic Latter-day Saint gospel principles.
Because I am not the target audience of this book, I asked my granddaughter Kjaisa to read it and then come and sit down with me and talk about it. A very mature twelve, she loves to read and was glad to do it.
When I asked her what she thought of The Journey, she said she really liked it. “I found a lot of depth in the book,” she said. “It’s a book that I would definitely recommend to my friends.”
This was a good beginning. I asked who her favorite character was, and she said it was Orion, because he reminded her of a leprechaun. Her favorite part, she said in answer to my question, was at the end. I won’t quote her, because that would be a spoiler, but she said the revelations during the time they were fighting were really amazing. These were revelations that harkened back to the beginning when the main character, Ciran, asked questions about her mother. Kjaisa said it was totally cool.
I didn’t mention to Kjaisa the second level of meaning, not wanting to put her on the spot, but when I finished writing notes on what she had said and turned away from the computer, she said, “Grandma, I don’t know if you wanted me to talk about it, but there was one other thing….” She had got it, completely, and she went through the allegory, detailing what the story meant to her.
I asked her when she discovered the second meaning, and she said it was when Ciran met Ubal.
“Did it make a difference?" I asked. “Did it bother you to have the story turn out to be an allegory?”
“No,” she said. “It made the read better. It’s kind of like an inside joke. You have to know about the Gospel to really get that.”
I’m with Kjaisa. The Journey is definitely a book that I would recommend to my friends.