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The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones: 05/25/18
The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt is the start of the Mabel Jones middle grade adventure series. There are pirates in an alternate world who find pirates from our world by grabbing those who do the dastardly, unmentionable deed. When Mabel Jones does the deed and they grab her, they don't know what to do. They've never grabbed a girl before!
The set up didn't sound promising but I was in the middle of reading about orphan magic, a term used in Greenglass House. There are so many examples, especially in middle grade fiction, of children (often actual orphans, though ones who feel like loners also qualify) being transported to an alternate world or being able to escape from a bad situation when no one else can.
The first third of the book involves Mabel's shock at being kidnapped by pirates and the pirates being horrified by capturing a girl. Mind you, there is a history of women pirates and it's presumptuous to assume all girls would be too dainty or feminine to pick their noses. I lost track of how many times I came close to closing the book early and counting it as a did not finish (DNF).
Around the second third of the book things start to change. Mabel has convinced them to let her lead the quest that she had been captured for. Through the questing, there is world building. And that's when things get interesting.
It begins with a pirate who appears to be the embodiment of DEATH. He can do things that the pirates cannot but that Mabel can. She is either invincible or she and he are more similar than they are different. The clues are there for readers to figure out before the big reveal.
By the final third, the reality of this alternate world is laid bare and it's not what I was expecting. It's far more epic than such a silly (and sexist) premise would lead one to expect. The pirates are living in a dystopia and it's one that's more closely tied to Mabel and our world than is first made apparent.
The second book in the series is Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City (2016).