________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2006


Return to Aten: The Second Chronicle of Aten. 

Lynn Sinclair. 
Weston, CT: Brown Barn Books (Available in Canada from Publishers Group Canada), 2006.
203 pp., pbk., $11.50.
ISBN 0-9768126-0-6. 

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Joan Marshall. 

*** /4 


It was still so early, the sun had barely put in an appearance, yet I felt more alert than I'd been for the past week. I put my hands on my hips. 

"Neil, what's wrong? You've changed so much." 

"You've been gone for over two years, what did you expect?" 

"I expected to find my old friend. Remember him? He's the guy who used to stand by my side when all the other little kids made fun of my red hair. The one I built a tree fort with and shared my poems with. Where is he?"

Neil's back was to me, but it didn't hide the fact that my words had knocked the wind out of him.  His shoulders slumped.             

"I wish he were here, Jodi, but he's not." Neil turned around, his face pale. "When you get the necklace back, open the archive and then go home. I don't want you to end up like me.  Okay?" 

"No, it's not okay because I don't understand." I rushed to him and gripped his arms. 

He peeled my hands away and placed them at my sides. His face was so incredibly sad, if I'd had the necklace right then, I would've found a way to take us both home. 

"This is who I am now. I'm not the skinny kid who lives down the street from you anymore. I am what Aten made me." 


Sixteen-year-old Jodi finds herself back in Aten (future Earth) where Enriel, a leader from another dimension, enlists Jodi's help again to rejuvenate Aten using the archive, a huge treasure trove of information from Jodi's time that could drag Aten out of lawlessness and magic, into prosperity and peace. But first Jodi must get to the archive, eluding the power-hungry Major, the scheming Arax and the jealous Catta, while she desperately wonders which of her friends she can really trust. Distracted by searching for Caden, the prince she thinks she loves, and Radula, a man whose electric touch draws her magnetically, Jodi also encounters Neil, a boy from her own time who is determined to save Aten. As Jodi reels from one adventure or attack to another, she discovers her own powers of healing and destruction and finally focuses well enough to recognize her true love. Using the archive awaits a third volume in the trilogy. 

     A typical struggling teenager, Jodi acts impulsively and heroically and ethically. Her brief trips back to her own time to an alcoholic mother only serve to fine-tune her desire to live in and to improve Aten. As she lives through one disaster after another, Jodi learns to think before she acts and to discern the nuances of the choices she must make. Although she initially finds it frustrating that the right path and whom to trust is not always clear, she ends up able to live with that ambiguity. 

     Aten is a fully realized fantasy world, complete with its own altered creatures and people living in a medieval way in a geography close to that of our present day Earth. The magic that infuses Aten swirls about the children of the Nera and profoundly affects Jodi's view of herself. Even Jodi's cat, Chowder, who travels with her to Aten, seems to be steeped in a prescient reality that Jodi ignores at her peril. The subtext of the destruction of the earth and its societies as we know it today is subtle but will attract teens who are concerned with the environment. 

     Middle school fantasy readers who ate up the first volume in this series, Key to Aten, will eagerly follow Jodi in to her second adventure. 


Joan Marshall is a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller. 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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