Review – Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell


Advance Review Copy Details

  • Title:  Wonderscape
  • Author: Jennifer Bell
  • Genre: Middle Grade,  Science Fiction, Time Travel
  • Source: Netgalley
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Publication Date: 4 June 2020
  • Format: Kindle
  • Number of Pages: 352

The first sentence had me hooked –  exploding gnomes! Where would we go next in this helter skelter world. Wonderscape is one of those books that you pick up and after a couple of paragraphs, think why isn’t this happening to me and why am I not on this adventure of a lifetime?

 Why didn’t I live there when I was a kid?

Bravery isn’t about being fearless. It’s about being scared and doing it anyway.

Strangers on a journey

So, we have this trio who don’t know each other well… actually at all.   And they have to work together to travel through dangerous worlds, solving various puzzles and challenges, so they can make their way back home.  This proves difficult because everything is strange – the worlds are new and different; the rules are obscure and this game they are in has real life consequence – you can die for real.

… the right thing was always worth doing, no matter how hard it might be

Along the way, as they go deeper into the game, they meet more historical heroes from the Earth’s past. Using the abilities and knowledge of these ‘notable figures’, the trio find out where they are, what happened to them and what lies in the future.  Eventually Arthur, Ren and Cecily find themselves caught up in a web of mystery and part of a resistance movement.

Able and adventurous kids

However, these kids are not passive backseat passengers, they are in the driving seat making decisions and choices that effect their future and the rest of the worlds. Through their learning and knowledge – all three are able to contribute to the challenges. They apply hypothesis and solutions to solve puzzles, tackle social issues, with the hope they can survive another day to continue their journey home.

The importance of learning, knowledge and education can not be understated. It literally saves their lives. Lets not forget their personal attributes of courage, persistence and determination  But it is evident that there are ideas, conundrums ‘things’ you can’t just work out no matter how clever you are when under a timed challenge. You either know it or you don’t. The knowing and applying of knowledge and facts was a lifesaver. 

We are shown that each child is different and their difference is a benefit because cleverness,  intelligence,  gumption and resilience presents in different ways for each child.  Each has an innate skill and the ability to acquire more, to leverage their  knowledge, to win in this game within worlds.  We see that there is no one right way to contribute to this quest. Everyone can help and  does, in the way that they can.

Yes, the Wonderscape had almost killed him; but it had also given him experiences he’d remember for the rest of his life, as well as two extraordinary friends– all of which he was grateful for.

Solo v Team

Friendship is explored in depth, as is identity. The face we present to the world isn’t always how we see ourselves or know who we really are. It’s the façade that is there to help us blend in, to not cause waves, make us noticed, or solicit questions. Maybe our masks helps us deal with the family dynamics we cannot change.

It  touches on the issues of loneliness and being alone, concerns which affect all these teens. So the benefit of friendship as it evolves during Wonderscape is a powerful contrast. Connections, having, making relationships with others is essential for progress; some of the puzzles could only be completed by working with others.  

“He understood why it was more difficult to explore the maze alone: because then you weren’t just fighting whatever obstacles it threw at you, you were fighting the fear and worry that came with loneliness.”

Wonderscape is a full-on adventure, that sweeps you up into different worlds, hints at time travel, presents the value of knowledge,ideas and is just plain fun.  We’re introduced to three teens who are disconnected (to varying degrees) from family, friends and the world in general. By the end of the book, introspection, camaraderie and action has made them see their worth and place in the world.   That is priceless.

Our futures are full of possibility,” Arthur said, feeling light. “They always have been

My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a digital copy of this book in return for a candid review.

3 stars – Liked It

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Engrossed Reader

Reading whenever she can, often to the detriment of sleep. Enjoying most genres with preference for ebooks and audiobooks, mainly for convenience.

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