Saturday, July 11, 2009

Erratum by Walter Sorrells

Walter Sorrells' Erratum is aimed at readers ages 9 to 11, but I can't imagine reading, and enjoying, this book when I was eleven. It was a fascinating novel. I just don't think I would have understood many of the concepts in the book, a story that covers everything from string theory to quantum physics to dark energy.

Jessica Sternhagen was different. Even her mother said, "There's something different about Jessica." The seventh grader didn't like sports or have many friends. She didn't quite fit in with her family or most of the people in Alsberg, Minnesota. While many of the residents only read Pork Processing Monthly, because the economy depended on the local sausage factory, Jessica liked to read. And, it was at a new bookstore, that just seemed to spring up from nowhere, that she found a book called Her Lif, a book that told of Jessica Sternhagen's life in 621 pages. But, when she flipped to the end, she found out she was killed in the bookstore. When she saved herself, the ending of this odd book changed.

When Jessica showed the book to her best friend, Dale McDuffie, the ending indicated that they went to the Map Room at the local library, the biggest library in the world, built by the owner of the sausage factory. Between the information they discover at the library, and a fortune cookie, Jessica and Dale learn she is the "guardian of the true and correct universe." What if every time you made a decision, it affected your world, changing it? Jessica is told that her decisions, and Her Lif, have that power.

It's an unusual book, with a villain who introduces himself, saying, "I'm the villain." There's a hole that can suck everything up, and destroy the universe. And, Jessica and Dale see their lives change, as Jessica's actions now change the past, which changes the present.

"Erratum is a writer's or publisher's error in a publication; such errors or a list of them with corrections." Her Lif is a book filled with erratum. Each time Jessica changes course, the book corrects itself because books are word machines that can be used to change reality. As a reader, book lover, and librarian, it was upsetting, and fascinating, to watch the burning of the books, and the library. The President told the people they didn't need books, while one of the librarians told Jessica that "Books hold our memory." In order to take over the world, "They're taking our memory first," by destroying the books. Without books, the President had ignorant citizens, obedient zombies without memories.

String theory, the universe, books as memory, black holes sucking up the universe. It's all fascinating. Would you give it to most readers ages nine to eleven? I doubt it. Just like Her Lif, Walter Sorrells' Erratum needs to find its audience.

Walter Sorrells's website is

Erratum by Walter Sorrells. Penguin Group, ©2008. ISBN 9780525478324 (hardcover), 288p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

It does sound like it might have the wrong age-group pegged. Then again, "A Wrinkle in Time" covered some of those ideas, but not in detail.

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Lesa said...

And, I LOVED A Wrinkle in Time. Maybe I'm just not up on this age group.

Pat Browning said...

Thanks for the update on Walter Sorrels. I heard a lot about him when I first started out but he kind of slipped under the radar the past few years.

I went to his web site. He is one interesting writer! And a swordsmith, to boot!

Pat Browning

Lesa said...

He has slipped under the radar, Pat. I'm afraid I have to admit I'd never heard of him, even though he's won the Edgar. Fame is so fleeting.

justice said...

this is a very excellent novel and I like the presence of the girl on the novel very much


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Irina said...

I'm eleven and i undrstood this book completly. I think it was a great book.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Irina! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I apologize for my comment. You're a better reader than I was at your age.

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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Lesa said...

Thank you, Marry.

M!NDY said...

I was did a review on Erratum once and recently i came upon the book again, and wanted to know what others thought of it. After reading your review I did realise that the age group thing is totally off! I was 13 when I read it, and I doubt a 9 year old would understand it! Its a really great book though, and your review is very accurate! :)


M!NDY said...

Oh, and I'd like to recommend a book for you to read when you're free, its 'Fablehaven' by Brandon Mull. It reminds me a little of my FAVE BOOKS OF ALL TIME: Harry Potter. If you like that genre of books, you'll love this!

-Mindy (15) :)

Lesa said...

Thank you, Mindy. Sounds as if you're a big fantasy reader. Thanks for stopping by to comment, and to recommend Fablehaven. I appreciate it. I hope you find other books you like as well as Harry Potter.

Anonymous said...

My just-turned-10 son read and loved this book. He's a choosy reader, and not a particular fan of the fantasy genre, but this caught the imagination. He's recommended it to me (enjoyed it) and 8-yr-old sister already. We'll see what she thinks soon. It's a great read.

Lesa said...

I'm glad your son enjoyed the book.

Anonymous said...

I have just finished reading this book, and although it is a little confusing, I do believe that a slim margin of young kids could read this and understand it. I myself am 13, and I enjoyed "Erratum". However, what I think the reader has to accept, is that you don't have to know everything about this book's world. You don't really have to know who the controlling spirits are, only that they're controlling the people with shadowed eyes, and that they're up to no good. That is one thing I love about this book. You only need to understand it to an extent.

But yes, I think this book might be better suited with a broader range of kids, maybe 11-17?