Category Archives: Return to Lan Darr

Return to Lan Darr Review #6

“Allan Westerfield is a wheelchair-bound hero, but a hero nonetheless.   Five stars.” ~reviewed by C.J. Shane at Sonoran Arts Network

full review below:  ( link: )

I’ve been a fan of children’s literature since….well, childhood, and my enthusiasm has never waned. I continue to read children’s and YA (young adult) literature even today. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing the Potters, both Beatrix and Harry, and I know where the wild things go in the middle of night.

Consequently, it was with anticipation that I opened the pages of Return to Lan Darr, a sci-fi adventure story written and illustrated by Anderson Atlas.   Return to Lan Darr is book 2 in theHeroes of Distance Planets series by Atlas, a pseudonym for Tucson writer and illustrator Brad Peterson. I had not read the first book in the series. My immediate concern as I began reading was to see if Atlas could catch me up to the action right away so I would not feel lost. Atlas did not disappoint.

I quickly learned that our hero, Allan Westerfield, is a 15-year old paraplegic who spends most of his life in a wheelchair. Allan lives with his uncle Rubic because Allan’s parents died in a car crash, the same crash that put Allan in a wheelchair.  Allan is also a young man who has discovered that the pollen of the very rare Hubbu flower makes possible instantaneous space travel through a worm hole. Allan has already made use of this pollen, and he proved his meddle by helping the residents of the planet Lan Darr rid themselves of the bloodthirsty monster Jibbawk.

But now back on Earth, going to school every day, doing homework, trying to develop a friendship with school pal Laura, negotiating life with his uncle….life has become very mundane for Allan, especially knowing he can’t talk about his space adventures. Only his uncle and his therapist know, and it’s clear that they see his stories as delusions caused by trauma. Allan learns to not talk about his adventures, but he thinks often about his Lan Dar friends, especially the warrior Asantia. He dreams of going through the worm hole again.

Then disaster strikes. Laura takes Allan’s diary with the intention of helping him recover from his fantasies. She loses the diary. Soon every kid in the school knows about his space stories, it’s all over social media, and Allan has become the butt of a thousand jokes. The reader, too, has to wonder if Allan is experiencing escapist delusions based on psychological trauma.

Allan’s reaction to all this?  He feels humiliated, but he prevails because he knows the real truth. One thing leads to another pretty quickly and before we know it, Allan finds more pollen and he’s off to a new planet. This time it’s not Lan Darr, though. He will go through lots of pollen (different colors take you to different planets) before he returns to Lan Darr.

This book is action-packed – most definitely a page turner. Allan finds some Hubbu pollen and off he goes. We travel along with Allan to a cave-ridden planet filled with sword-carrying gigantic bat-like creatures, and then to a planet where visitors are seduced by luxury and leisure…until the easy life ends in enslavement. Allan meets one challenge after another and keeps his eye on the Lan Darr goal.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the reader is thrust into Laura’s dilemma. She has been abducted by an apparently insane woman who believes her daughter was taken into space by the Hubbu pollen. At home, Rubic finds an intruder in his house, the dreaded monster Jibbawk. Of course Rubic doesn’t know that monster wants to kill and eat Allan, and Laura doesn’t want to lead the crazy woman to Allan. We follow these three lines of action: Allan, Laura, and Rubic in a roller-coast ride across the cosmos until the three adventurers all rendezvous on Lan Darr for the last great battle.

Return to Lan Darr is designated for the 11 and older reader. The fact is that any lover of action-packed adventure is going to enjoy this book. The only qualification I have is the illustrations. We don’t often see illustrations in books for this age group. However, these illustrations, all well-drawn, appear to be charcoal or graphite, and are all very dark. More contrast would have made the drawings more appealing.

Beyond that, Allan stands as a model for those experiencing serious physical challenges. He is thoughtful, resourceful, and courageous.  And he knows and believes in himself. He is capable of resisting public humiliation and bullying at school as well physical challenges because of his resilience and courage. Allan Westerfield is a wheelchair-bound hero, but a hero nonetheless.   Five stars.

Return to Lan Darr Review #5

5stars FIVE STARS!

We recently reviewed book one in the Heroes of Distant Planets series by Anderson Atlas, so it was a pleasure to read a preview copy of the second book in the series. While too many action/adventure titles aimed at middle grade and “younger” young adult audiences seem to focus on the “movie-worthy” adventure–meaning the Hollywood-esque action series, as if the author wrote it with a movie franchise in mind–it’s refreshing to read a series that actually works in the crucial world building that so many fantasy fans crave.

Both of Atlas’ books have relied heavily on the type of characterizations that made books like A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, and even the Harry Potter series so popular with readers. The main characters not only travels to far off places, but he meets a widely varied cast of alien creatures in every new location. The creatures themselves not only have full enough physical descriptions to hold the readers’ interest, but they have their own backstory and struggles woven in.

Speaking of struggles, Return to Lan Darr opened with one of the most realistic and timely portrayals of modern-day teen problems that any book has presented in a long time. It’s particularly upsetting to read ridiculous or outdated portrayals of bullying, and the concept that a handicapped student (the main character was paralyzed in the car accident that killed his parents) is “untouchable” when it comes to bullying is horrifically inaccurate. School systems and administrators like to tell themselves that any student with special needs is somehow safe from that kind of thing–mostly because we like to tell ourselves that adults would never bully a handicapped person, so therefore kids would be kind enough to leave him alone–but as Atlas clearly demonstrates, it is simply not true. After Allan’s diary where he writes down his adventures on Lan Darr (from book one) is stolen and passed around the entire school via a Facebook-like social media site, he has more incentive than ever to try to get back to the planet and fight Jibbawk in order to save his new friends.


Return to Lan Darr Review #4

“lots of surprises in this book, ones that I didn’t see coming, and others that helped bring the story together. Beyond the shock, the adventure, and treks across the galaxy, there’s a budding romance that I found to be one of the best I’ve ever read.”

Read the Entire Review Below:

I have read a few books by this author so I’m familiar with his style of writing and I’ve come to enjoy it. My review may be biased here but I think anyone who picks up a copy of Atlas’s work will fall in love with this awesome and adventurous story.

I have to say I am somewhat envious of Atlas, its been a longstanding passion of mine to do something to help shine light on characters as unique as Allan. Atlas beat me to the punch. So the next best thing would be to give this book the review it deserves. Passion aside, Return to Lan Darr is just as good as Book I in this series, if not better. If you haven’t read the first book, it isn’t exactly necessary to grab a copy as Atlas does a wonderful job at keeping the audience updated on things but it is definitely worth a read and helps bring a bit more meaning to the rest of the story.

We have a very unique cast in this book. Allan is a paraplegic, which is interesting alone, but there are also talking animals, creatures, aliens, and a number of intriguing humans who play a part in this series. Allan is most definitely my favorite because he’s so strong, physically and mentally. I think it takes a lot of bravery to be confined to a wheelchair yet take the stand that Allan did and discover an entirely new world!

There are a lot of surprises in this book, ones that I didn’t see coming, and others that helped bring the story together. Beyond the shock, the adventure, and plain old treks across the galaxy, this Book II has a budding romance that I found to be one of the best romances I’ve ever read. I think it was a wise yet cautious step that Atlas took in developing a relationship between Allan and his love-interest. Everyone deserves to have love and to demonstrate that so well in this book is something I greatly appreciated.

Once again, the imagery and the detail were spot on in this book. I couldn’t have asked for more to see and envision as I read the pages of this novel. You don’t have to have a large imagination to see this story play out in your head, but Atlas makes it clear just how large his imagination is with the depth he includes in his dialogue and the deliberate detail he uses in is descriptions. I am definitely a fan of this author and I look forward to reading more in this series.

I would recommend this book to readers of all ages and interests. If you’re looking for a unique adventure, this is the book for you. You will not be disappointed in this series whatsoever!

Valicity Garris‘s review