Review Blog

Jun 18 2018

William Wenton and the Secret Portal by Bobbie Peers

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Walker, 2018. ISBN 9781406371710
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Science Fiction, Adventures, Codes and ciphers, Secrecy. Norwegian film director Bobbie Peers' "William Wenton and the Secret Portal", the second novel is darker and slower-paced than "William Wenton and the luridium thief". He takes us back to familiar surroundings at a more hostile and locked in Institute for Post-Human Research. William's body is filled with a metallic substance, 49% liridium which enables him to solve the world's most difficult puzzles. There are evil forces at play, and a mysterious women with a mechanical hand who needs William's powers to open a special cryptoportal in the Himalayas.
When William appears on television ready for a competition to solve The Difficulty puzzle, he suddenly experiences a powerful seizure and is unable to continue. Sent home, he is crushed by his loss. When his grandfather, a master cryptographer, collects him and deposits him at the Institute, only to leave again, William's worries continue. The Institute has changed dramatically, more like a jail than a vibrant research facility. His room is a prison, with steel bars on the windows and he must be accompanied everywhere by a porter-bot. Guard-bots carry passivators to stop William from searching the buildings and grounds for clues to his illness and reasons for the changes at the now hostile environment. Even his friend Iscia now a field assistant has altered; she even works with his enemy Freddy.
When the mysterious woman appears in his room and tries to kidnap William, he determines to find answers. Stealthy forays into the basement where he discovers a mysterious man encased in a steel slab and into the gardens to a secret underground space leave William with more questions than answers. With Ischia's help and Freddy's interference William sets consequences in motion when he handles a powerful orb that destroys many artefacts stored in The Depository. His actions open a cryptoportal in the Himalayas allowing for the evil woman Cornelia Strangler to steal an entire cryonic storage unit. Can William save the earth from the return of vast quantities of luridium that will infect all human and destroy life on Earth?
Bobbie Peer's second science-fiction novel has a darker quality to the plot and setting that makes it difficult at times to make sense of William's struggles and his decisions. His sense of loneliness and constant struggles are confronting, more darkness than lightness. More code-breaking and cyphers would have helped as well. "William Wenton and the Secret Portal" is suitable for readers who enjoy futuristic fiction filled with gadgetry and alternate forms of travel.
Rhyllis Bignell

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