THEMES & WRITING STYLE
by Cerberus Jones
As the first in an ongoing series of books, this story is principally one of new beginnings and discovery. The central character, Amelia, has been lifted out of her old, familiar life in the city and is forced to start from scratch in the tiny beachside town of Forgotten Bay. Here she must navigate not only the displacement of moving into a new house, but also a new school, new friends, and a new dynamic with her parents, who are also starting over with a sea-change from their top-level jobs in science and diplomacy to taking over the rundown Gateway Hotel.
Initially overwhelmed and disoriented, Amelia quickly engages with Charlie — her equal, but opposite in many ways. Exploring the hotel together, they realize that it is full of secrets and oddities. And with each new secret, Amelia is led first to doubt, then to suspect, and finally to distrust her parents. What she knows of their character through being raised and loved by them is called into question by the things she witnesses firsthand. How can she reconcile hard evidence with what she feels to be true about her parents?
In the story’s conclusion, Amelia is given the last pieces of information she needs to resolve the mystery. She is able to see that, with a different perspective, those same facts can be completely reinterpreted.
The Gateway books are classic, self-contained mystery stories, though amplified with science-fiction styling. As such, each book focuses on a central problem or puzzle, gradually reveals clues chapter by chapter, and invites the reader to participate with Amelia and Charlie as they attempt to analyze the facts, use logic to form, test, discard and refine hypotheses, and finally resolve the mystery.
As Amelia and Charlie are quite different characters, with different perspectives on what is at stake, they often come up with different theories; one tends to zero in on an element that the other has overlooked or considered irrelevant. As they wrestle with the problem, and argue out their reasoning, so the reader is encouraged to develop their close reading skills - to interrogate the text, engage actively as the story unfolds, and see if they can solve the mystery before the characters do.
Taken from Teachers’ Notes, created by Cerberus Jones, with thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont. You can find the three parts of Cerberus Jones online as Chris Morphew, Rowan McAuley and David Harding.
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