Allan Westerfield: Off-World by Anderson Atlas
Publisher: Synesthesia Books
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (144 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
The Jibbawk is a dark creature, a shadow almost, with glowing eyes. It hunts humans for sport or revenge or hunger, no one knows really. We do know it’s not from Earth and that its cunning arises from a ruthless nature. And there are more dangers on this far-away planet called Lan Darr, more dangers than can be counted.
Off-World is a spine tingling adventure, with exciting twists & turns. A perfect and inspiring read for 10 and up.
Meet Allan Westerfield. He has lost so much: his Olympic dreams, his parents, the use of his legs, his voice. When life is at its bleakest, its darkest, Allan and his uncle are almost drown by a flash flood. Allan must save his uncle, even if it’s the last thing he does. Allan crawls for help, a seemingly insurmountable task for a paraplegic.
Without warning, Allan is transported to planet Lan Darr by the least likely thing, a flower.
He is lost, hopeless and confused. Will he get home? Will his uncle die alone in a cold, dark forest? No. A fire erupts inside Allan. In a blaze of utter resilience, Allan finds his voice, his soul and his heart. He escapes the creepy Jibbawk and the Lithic Furies and Killian Crow.
No one has met anyone like Allan before, and they never will again. He is Allan Westerfield: adventurer, comedian, nephew, friend, paraplegic.
You never know what you’ll find on a faraway, alien planet.
The world building in this tale was really well done. When the main character was suddenly transported to Lan Darr I felt like I’d travelled there with him. Everything from the plants to the animals to the cities on that planet was just as otherworldly as I’d expect it to be. I especially liked the fact that a lot of the places and lifeforms weren’t like anything you’d ever find on Earth. They were truly unique.
What I found confusing about this story was that it didn’t include enough details about what the characters looked like. Allan met so many creatures and human-like beings on Lan Darr that I had trouble keeping track of all of them. Knowing more about what these aliens looked like would have made it easier for me to remember who was who. My mental images of all of them were never very clear.
This was one of the scariest middle grade books I’ve read in a long time. The main character was constantly surrounded by danger, but it wasn’t always clear to him or to me where the biggest threats were coming from. Seeing Allan react to these circumstances made his adventures even more interesting than they already were because the plot didn’t give us any breaks from the tension. The entire storyline was intense in a good way!
Allan Westerfield: Off-World was a wild ride. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for an adventure.