The Saga of Quest Inc.: The New Q.I. by Lynn Mathai could have an interesting plot if it wasn’t buried under what appears to be an attempt to incorporate as many fantasy elements as possible within the storyline.
Kids destined for great things is a popular theme so it appears that the story of Phil’s connection with the mysterious Quest Inc. is off to a great start. But it spirals more and more out of control as the story progresses, bringing in elements of science-fiction-type creatures, the fountain of youth, time travel, and magic. All of these elements could probably be combined, but the incorporating of them into the story isn’t handled very well. For example, a section of the book requires that Phil and a few of his friends travel back in time to collect additional members of Quest. The time portal can only transport four people, and four people have traveled to the past. So how exactly are the three additional people supposed to make the return trip to the present? Fortunately, one of the people in the past has magic that can boost the power of the time portal, allowing a larger number of people to travel. But their return should have been thought of before traveling back in time to make the story credible.
Another problem is that almost half the book could be removed without effecting the story at all, with many pages dedicated to the regular day-to-day activities of teen children. Since brushing teeth, eating breakfast, and going to the park to ride skateboards didn’t advance the story along or even give depth to the characters, there was little reason to repeatedly expose readers to these activities.
Finally, and probably the issue that causes the greatest problem with this book, readers only see the surface of what’s going on, and no attempt was made to show rather than tell. When Phil and his friends face danger or heartbreak, we (us readers) are simply told they are scared or sad or angry, with no descriptive emotions revealed that could make the characters seem more real.
The Saga of Quest Inc.: The New Q.I. could be polished and refined to show the exciting adventure that hides within the pages, but it offers very little to look forward to in its current state.
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