Remarkables is okay. After reading a few post read reviews I now understand that this isn’t one of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s better books. It’s fine. I don’t regret reading it. Though I’m not sure how much I would recommend it. I’m not the demographic for the book, but I do not see my younger self liking this book more than the present me did. Younger me required swords and magic in his fantasy. I was expecting fantasy along the lines of Madeline L’Engles. “There’s a Mystery Next Door…” the cover states. “And some wayward kids are going to solve it. While resolving issues with their parents.” I assumed was going to be the next bit. I was wrong, but okay with it.
There are a lot of good things about Remarkables. Haddix’s prose is strong and clear. It may not be fancy, but readers understand what is going on. Reader’s get to know the main character, Marin, really well. She feels genuine and I’m sure many younger readers can identify with her. She has a great relationship with her family, particularly her dad. The parents themselves are portrayed in a realistic manner. Most grown ups are removed from the pedestals that children place them upon and brought down to a human level. They display the stresses of adult life, weakness, and emotion. The story is as much about Marin’s dad having these moments as it is about Marin and Charly.
While Remarkables has elements of fantasy, it is not a fantasy story. Those elements are used early on to hook the reader. Then it’s really only used as something for the characters to focus on, but not deal with directly until the last eight pages. Remarkables character driven story using mysterious fantasy elements to make life a bit more interesting felt like it took a page from the television series Lost. Not as grandiose or needing re-reads, but just some seasoning to help make starting junior high in a new school more interesting.