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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Leap (Definitions Series)
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on 18 February 2001
I really enjoyed this book. It tells of a girl, Charlie, whose friend is thought to be dead. She believes he has been taken to another world by mythical creatures and she tries to make contact with this world and search for him via her dreams. Her doctors, friends and family think she's mad and still in shock and try to prevent her from remembering the past. The story is set in two worlds and from two different points of view (Charlie's and her brother's). One tells of Charlie's search while the other is about the struggle to return her to her normal lifestyle. This book is gripping and well written. I would recommend it to people aged ten and over who like a chllenging read (I'm twelve). If you like books by Tim Bowler you'll enjoy this too!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 March 2007
Losing a friend is one of the greatest traumas a person can have, especially if they somehow feel responsible for the death. Fantasy writer Jonathan Stroud tackled that sensitive topic in "The Leap," an early novel that straddled the boundaries between reality and fantasy.

Charlie nearly died trying to rescue her drowning pal Max, and now she's suffering from her grief and shock. She remembers strange green women dragging him down, yet no one believes her. But things change suddenly when she begins to have strange dreams, of a surreal land where Max is walking in the distance.

In her dreams, Charlie encounters a strange man who tells her that Max is heading toward the Great Fair -- if he joins an alluring magic dance there, he will be lost forever. But the dreams are having a lasting effect on Charlie -- she's waking up with scratches, and thinks she sees wolves from her dream outside her house. Can she save Max, or will she herself be lost in the world of the dead?

It's a credit to Stroud that while including elements of fantasy, he's able to portray grief and guilt so expertly. In fact, as good as the dream sequences are, the detached, erratic behavior that Charlie has in the real world is much, much more compelling.

Stroud alternates between lush, descriptive writing in the dream realm, and more down-to-earth styles when Charlie is awake. And it's deeply affecting when he describes how the loss of Max has hit Charlie, her family, and his grieving parents. The only flaw is that we only get brief glimpses of Max; we never really get to know him.

But Stroud hits the bulls-eye with Charlie and her family -- she's determined to save Max, and not willing to believe that he's gone. And her family is afraid that she's going insane. To keep things grounded, her brother James narrates some chapters, giving an idea of what her family thinks of her strange behavior. James thoughts are as powerful as Charlie's, out of fear that his sister is going bonkers.

Stroud never quite explains whether the "dream world" events are real, but perhaps it's better that he left it that way. In the end, "The Leap" is a powerful tale about grief and love.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 June 2013
I read this book as a teenager and some 15 years later it still stands out very clearly in my memory. Seldom has a story had such a lasting impact on me. Stroud is an excellent writer whose novels are always compelling and whose characters are immediately likeable and realistic. The Leap is a particularly moving and cleverly written story. The principal character is a teenage girl, Charlie, who survived an accident in which her best friend died. She becomes convinced that he was taken by mermaid-like creatures and is now in a strange world from which she must rescue him in her dreams. The real cleverness of the book is that it's never clear whether Charlie is deluded and experiencing a mental illness brought on by her grief, or if the fantasy elements are actually true and Charlie is right. This creates a lot of narrative tension and an unsettling feeling that stayed with me long after the book and I still find myself wondering whether it should be read as a fantasy or not. Charlie is a hugely sympathetic character and the portrayal of grief and its effects on people is beautifully and realistically portrayed.

The other great strength of the book is the use of chapters narrated by Charlie's brother, who watches with increasing anxiety as his sister's behaviour becomes more and more bizarre. He is also a very likeable character and giving his perspective is a very effective way to create uncertainty about what is 'real' and also increase the tension. It is one of those books where you root equally for both characters, even when they are opposing each other, which contributes to the excitement. I also liked the positive but believable depiction of the love between a brother and sister.

Ultimately this is a moving, thought-provoking and very gripping novel, and I would highly recommend it to readers of all ages, and particularly teenagers. It has stayed with me for many years, to the extent I can still 'see' the characters and some of the scenes from it in my mind.
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on 10 July 2009
This is a beautiful but painful read, dealing with issues of grief and guilt and friendship in a sensitive book laden with its own special magic. Its a book to leave you thinking at the end too, but a very good read
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on 28 April 2014
Jonathan Stroud is the Business, and a master in modern fairy stories,and on understanding rebellious teenagers.
An older but totally up to standard offering, which I can only recommend highly to anyone from 12 to 102.
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on 4 March 2016
A fast paced read, never boring
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on 15 August 2009
I read this book years ago, and it has stuck in my head as one of the most disappointing books I've had the misfortune to read. If you love bad endings, this is the book for you.
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