Read The Whisper by Aaron Starmer Online


Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There’s something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart. All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of sTwelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There’s something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart. All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of starlight, a megalomaniacal boy king, and astronauts who peddle riddles are hard enough to outwit, but they’re only the beginning. To find Fiona, Alistair must travel from world to world. He must confront the mistakes of his past. And he must face countless monsters, including the soul-stealing stalker that some people call the Riverman, the merciless but misunderstood servant of Aquavania who refers to himself as the Whisper....

Title : The Whisper
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780374363116
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Whisper Reviews

  • Wendy Darling
    2019-03-15 18:48

    4.5 stars I'd like the ability to visit Aaron Starmer's brain whenever I pleased, because stories and characters just keep spilling over in a glorious jumble of images and words in this strange but wonderful series. This story is a bit Mary Poppins, a bit Edward Eager, with a lovely, delicate undercurrent of philosophical pondering that sets it apart from other middle grade. The plot is intriguing, the characters don't reveal all their secrets--even to themselves--and both books one and two have admirably complex structures. I enjoyed the stories within stories, but my one quibble is that there might have been a few too many for the pacing of the story. But still, the book is such a marvel that you kind of just have to go with it. You try to resist a lonely penguin who cries on your shoulder. I mean, really. <3

  • Eilonwy
    2019-03-14 16:49

    Three and a half stars, rounded down. I'll try to write a proper review later, but right now I'm just stunned by the very weird (although not wholly unexpected) twist this story took at the end of this second volume. I cannot guess what the author is trying to do with this trilogy. To me, this book feels similar to a combination ofThe Phantom Tollbooth and the Withern Rise trilogy ( A Crack in the Line;Small Eternities; andThe Underwood See), the last three of which get darker and creepier with each installment. I'm not entirely sure why this Riverman trilogy is aimed at middle-grade readers, as I think my child self would have had nightmares from these two books. So while I would recommend this series to adults as it stands so far, I don't think I could give either of these books to children under high school age and feel very good about it. They're creative and fascinating and are making me ask a lot of questions, in a good way. But they're also genuinely scary and unsettling. So, maybe a more coherent review will follow.

  • Mike
    2019-02-25 15:55

    The first sequel that's made me reimagine what I saw in the original.

  • Mindy
    2019-02-26 15:58

    I received an ARC of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.I don't know. On its own, The Whisper is a fine book, but as a sequel to the exceptional The Riverman, it's not what I expected or even wanted it to be. The Riverman skillfully blended reality and fantasy, keeping the reader guessing as to what was real and what was fiction; The Whisper, on the other hand, is purely a fantasy novel—and I do love fantasy, but it's not quite where I was hoping this trilogy would go. That being said, I did like reading it. Good characters (though not nearly enough Fiona), good pacing, and an imaginative plot. And it's rather violent and messed up for a middle grade novel, which I just love. I'm eagerly awaiting the final novel, but I hope it'll be more of a return to the dark charm and weirdness that was The Riverman.

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-07 22:54

    Last year, I raved about The Riverman, the first in a trilogy by Aaron Starmer. Now it's publication day for book two, The Whisper, and I couldn't be more thrilled for everyone (and jealous I can't read it for the first time again).When we left off book one, Fiona had disappeared into Aquavania, perhaps forever. Alistair realized that Charlie is the Riverman, accidentally shoots Kyle, and then uses the portal in Fiona's basement to chase after her. What he discovers there is a world of ash, with a sparkling rainbow river in it. Left without a choice, he jumps in the river and rides it to another child's realm. There he discovers another "swimmer," a kid who has entered Aquavania through someone else's portal, and, not sure what else to do, follows her lead. So begins book two.Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is how different it feels from its predecessor, and I mean that in several ways: the narration switches from first- to third-person. It's a strange choice, but one that ultimately suits the style of this book. Riverman was largely about Alistair's pursuit of truth--be it in Fiona's story, his relationship with Fiona, or his own understanding of the world around him--and the first-person narration provides a lot of really crucial moments of introspection. Whisper feels a lot questier, like The Odyssey, because he hops from world to world and meets one strange set of characters after another: we're less concerned with how Alistair in particular perceives what's happening and more concerned with what's happening to Alistair. We want--need?--the outside perspective on what's going on to map a change in Alistair.Another of the major differences is that not everything we read is about Alistair. Interwoven with his narrative are several vignettes, stories about other kids who have gone to their own Aquavanias, have built their own worlds and given them up. I can't express how much I adored these--I believe in the author's own words, they are origin stories, and indeed one of them seems to be the origin of the magical otherworld and the Whisper. They read like fairy tales, the real, meaty ones by Andersen. Please don't ask me to explain what exactly I mean by that--these aren't moralistic like Andersen, to be certain, but nonetheless I get the same feeling from these origin stories as I do from, for example, "The Red Shoes" or "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf."Starmer wisely plays with the idea of the uncanny for much of the novel: there's something inherently terrifying about reality +/-, and the author exploits it to his benefit often. I don't want to be too spoilery, but let's just say that Alistair spends a fair amount of time in a version of his hometown; I was unnerved as he was by the tiny differences, by the slighty-too-flat population of the town. But all of the children's created worlds are like this, shifted minutely and all the creepier for it.The thing I loved so much about the first book in this series is how creepy it was--rarely am I made to feel frightened by a book, but there was something about The Riverman that crawled into me and made me shudder. The Whisper exercises this chilly effect less often, but when it does, you really feel it--the uncanny, as I mentioned earlier, has a lot to do with that, but the most chilling moment is without doubt the ending.However, if "creepy" is the mood-word I use for book one, then "lonely" is the mood-word for book two. Alistair spends a good part of the novel isolated in other people's worlds--even the sentence that I've just typed should clue you in on how lonely it is! Fiona was a lonely character in The Riverman, and Aquavania was a manifestation of that loneliness and an attempt to assuage it; the other children who have escaped to their fantasy lands are no different, and between their narratives interlaced with Alistair's and the wastelands and abandoned creations he explores...this book really punches you in the gut with feelings.Aaron Starmer, you're great. You have written something delightful and dreary and dazzling and dreamy and destructive. If the rest of you haven't read this book, or what comes before it, stop wasting your time. We're so lucky to be on Starmer's journey. Ugh.My rating: 5/5

  • Lizzie
    2019-02-27 22:40

    BUT I want it now!!!

  • Suad Shamma
    2019-03-09 23:03

    The Riverman was one of the best books I've ever read. I couldn't believe how Aaron Starmer's mind works for him to be able to create such a brilliant world with wonderful characters. I had barely closed the first book before I was picking up The Whisper and jumping straight into Alistair's world again to find out what happened to Fiona, Charlie, Kyle and everyone else!Before reading on, I would suggest you read The Riverman as I will mention things that happened in the previous book that you are definitely not going to want to spoil for yourselves.We left off The Riverman with one of the craziest twists ever. Charlie, Alistair's best friend, is the Riverman, and Alistair ends up shooting Charlie's brother, Kyle, accidentally, before running off to Fiona's basement going through her portal and into Aquavania to find her. He ends up finding Fiona's world destroyed and 'swims' to other kids' worlds, meeting new people, creatures, in a quest to find her.This is a very lonely book, following Alistair's journey as he meets a whole variety of strange characters jumping from one world to another. This is emphasized by the use of third-person in the book, whereas the The Riverman was written in first-person. I believe Starmer chose this path specifically because he wanted us to distance ourselves from Alistair, to intensify that feeling of aloneness and loneliness. We don't know what's happening in the real world, we don't know how much time has passed, or how old he is now, but we know it's a long time in Aquavania time. We also get a deeper glimpse into the history and background of Aquavania, and how The Riverman (or the Whisper) was created.I don't know if I can honestly say this was as good as the first book, but it was different for sure. Good, but different.

  • Mbobrosky
    2019-03-15 17:42

    The tragic ending of The Riverman, the first book in The Riverman Trilogy, finds Alistair Cleary reeling from the events. The Whisper takes off with Alistair bursting into Fiona Loomis' basement, touching the suspended column of water, her portal to her "make believe" world of Aquavania. He is transported to an incredible world, where his search for Fiona takes him from one fantastic adventure to the next. There's are lessons here, some forcing Alistair to look at his own life, and confront mistakes he has made. The repetitive story of Una, and the guilt she feels for lying about her brother's accidental death might be a reflection of Alistair's pain. Is this a dream? Is this a coping mechanism for Alistair? Is this simply a true fantasy? Sorry, but none of those questions will be answered here.The Whisper is an incredible ride. The writing is typical Starmer; lyrical and poetic. The story is unusual, like nothing else. Alistair's adventures will remind you of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Only, these are even more fantastic. The environments and characters from the tribal bush to underground caves and astronauts to the Riverman (who calls himself the Whisper), challenge Alistair and force him to think and evaluate himself in his search for Fiona. The issues that Alistair is dealing with are dark and adult. The many references to trust and good vs. evil, are a reflection of the torment Alistair is dealing with. The ending is a powerful lead-in to the next book. My problem is, is how long must I wait? This review is from an ARC, and The Whisper is not being released until March 2015. I have a year and a half to ponder and anticipate...

  • Steph Lovelady
    2019-03-22 21:08

    I liked this ambitious, complicated, deeply imaginative book but I didn't love it and I was trying to put my finger on why, so I asked my eleven year old why she was less into it than the first installment. She said it was because the cliff-hanger that ends the first book never gets resolved in the second one, the protagonist having decamped to an alternative world in order to avoid the consequences of what he did at the very end of the first book and then stayed there for the entire book. Also, I think because a lot of the characters in this book are figments of other characters' imaginations, they are not as three dimensional as the (mostly) real characters in the first book. The parts I liked best were actually the flashbacks to the real world in which Alistair and Charlie's relationship gets further developed. Some of these are really astute and well done. I think the third book will take us back to Alistair's original life, but if I read it I may have to read it alone because my daughter has lost interest.

  • Leonard Kim
    2019-03-14 19:00

    1) Unlike The Riverman, this book is written in the 3rd person, making it a very different experience. 2) As someone who thinks The Riverman is one of the best books of the year, I have to be honest in saying I felt generally disappointed throughout the first 2/3rds or so of the ARC. 3) Upon reflection, I think this reaction is attributable to the two books feeling like they are of different genres. By itself, The Whisper is fine, at times great. 4) Genre aside, I think The Riverman is the better book.5) I still want to read book 3.

  • Maria
    2019-03-16 17:51

    So bizarrely fascinating. The world- the mythos. I can't wait for book three, though I'll need to reread the first two so I can wring every drop of oddness and discovery out of the finale.

  • Hannah
    2019-02-26 20:04

    Agh, I should have reviewed this much closer to when I read it, but I was so eager to read The Storyteller that I put this off for way too long. The Whisper was a much more depressing book for me than The Riverman. There was less of a creepy sense of discovery and more of a burgeoning sense of world-weariness (appropriate for the (view spoiler)[25 years(?!?!) Alistair spends in Fiona's Aquavania approximation of their hometown (hide spoiler)]. Despite Alistair's adventuring to new places, it felt like he wasn't really getting anywhere... and his pursuit of Charlie felt almost like he was chasing a ghost of Charlie rather than an active villain. I'm not going to dispute Charlie's sadism, but I do wonder about the depths of his patience. (Though, in writing that, I'm thinking back now to the story of Alistair lugging Charlie home on a sled through the snow and dark and cold when Charlie "hurt" his ankle... and how Charlie, eerily, just let Alistair slog on through the painstaking process, ostensibly to test the depth of his friendship? Ahh, Charlie, so creepy!)I liked the point that another reviewer made, that despite all the changes in Aquavania worlds, The Whisper didn't feel like it was going anywhere much because Alistair hadn't yet faced up to the real world challenges he left behind(like shooting Steve ...I mean, Kyle). Have I mentioned yet that I've been describing The Riverman series as the book equivalent of "Stranger Things" because of the eighties throwbacks, teens dealing with mature issues in realistic ways, blurring of lines between reality and fantasy, and overall engrossing-ness? If I say more, I think I'll accidentally start talking about The Storyteller... so on to that!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Joshua Whiting
    2019-03-11 17:02

    The Whisper follows up The Riverman, which was mysterious, masterfully constructed, a bit more gritty than most middle grade novels, and not quite a fantasy until the very last page; or perhaps the fantasy was that the main character thought it wasn’t a fantasy. In contrast, The Whisper moves much closer to a traditional action-packed middle grade fantasy/adventure, but it still has an enigmatic undertow.After having taken his friend Fiona’s accounts of children disappearing from the magical land of Aquavania as a subtle cry for help from an abuse victim, Alistair has now actually entered the child-created realms he thought were unreal and found that they are indeed broken worlds of figments, abandoned by their original creators. Alistair engages in an almost-video game-styled quest exploring a multitude of extremely imaginative, childish, violent, and hilarious worlds, meeting bizarre characters and battling ciphers, ostensibly to find Fiona and save her and the other lost children. Instead, he keeps coming upon the handiwork of his former friend Charlie (a.k.a. The Riverman, a.k.a The Whisper) who now plays game master with all of these abandoned worlds. The narrative is interspersed with insightful flashbacks to Alistair’s past interactions with Charlie and Fiona in the “real” world, as well as origin stories about the first child creators of Aquavania.Upon reflection it is increasingly unclear to me whether these books are truly for young readers or more for adults who were once young readers and enjoy a more meta take on children’s fantasy books. It is an undeniably action-packed, suspenseful page-turner. It is also teeming with complicated ideas and themes to be fished out (for starters the interplay of creation, imagination, authorship, fantasy, idealization, objectification, plagiarism, “remixing,” truth and error, the fallibility of memory, the limits of friendship, game design, etc., etc.), and so many unanswered questions. Try The Great Gatsby meets Inception meets Super Mario Brothers meets A Swiftly Tilting Planet. That’s basically where we are here, and I’m sure that “meets” list either made you groan in dismay or got you pretty excited. I absolutely love all of it, but I must qualify that by acknowledging that I am a 35 year old nerd with a B.A. in English. Putting aside my personal enthusiasm, I’m not sure whether I can recommend the books of the Riverman Trilogy for widespread school library purchase because I am afraid they will just sit on the shelf. I think you’d have to hand-sell this to the right readers, which means you probably first have to experience it for yourself, and I would recommend that.This review published at

  • Kavanand (Reading for Two)
    2019-02-22 21:45

    The Whisper is the second book in the Riverman trilogy. My review has minor spoilers for the first book, so look away now if you haven't read The Riverman.Still here? You've been warned. I liked The Whisper very much. I also enjoyed The Riverman, but I had a few minor issues with it (for example, I felt that Alistair's voice felt a little too mature for a 12-year-old boy). Those issues disappeared for me after reading The Whisper, and the authors' choices in the first book now make perfect sense to me. The Whisper is very different in tone than the first book. In The Riverman, you're never quite sure until the end whether this is a fantasy novel or the story of a girl with serious issues, just as Alistair is never sure whether Fiona is telling the truth about Aquavania. The Whisper moves the trilogy firmly into fantasy territory. Alistair is now in Aquavania, searching for the missing Fiona, trying to figure out the secrets of this strange world, and dealing with Charlie's betrayal.Aquavania is a fascinating and extremely creepy place. Alistair moves through various worlds in search of Fiona and the Riverman (who is also called the Whisper). He meets other children who are trapped there and various creatures created by the children who made these worlds. Every place he goes creates more questions. He ends up in a version of his real life world that was created by Fiona, and this world is particularly creepy and teaches him a lot about Fiona.I like that this series isn't at all dumbed down for kids. As an adult, I never felt like I was reading a book just for children. These books are recommended for ages 10-14, but they are a bit dark, so they may be more appropriate for kids at the upper end of that range. I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.

  • Lauren
    2019-02-25 16:47

    I considered “The Riverman”, book one of the trilogy, one of the best books of 2014 (and one of the best tween books I'd ever read), so I couldn't wait to get book 2. Traditionally, book twos of trilogies tend to be the most boring for me, and often result in simply setting up for book 3. I found that “the Whisper” took a different approach. I think instead of a “book 2” it might be better explained as a “companion” to book 1. Instead of moving the plot forward leaps and bounds it instead goes back and develops the characters more wholly. I’m not saying that it’s lacking action – that’s not the case. In fact, the book moves ahead 25 years. But what I mean is more that the action is less consequential for the reader than going back and gaining a new perspective on…well…everything. Characters, motivations, actions, the tiniest details: you now feel like you’re in a completely different place than you were in book one, and that’s a good thing.I rarely give books 5 stars, but I think Aaron Starmer deserves it on this one. If you haven’t read his other, “Only Ones”, you should. His books have a very dark tone. I found them all to be melancholy, and you kind of feel like you’re under a blanket of shadows. But this is what makes him, as an author, so great – you’re completely involved in whatever world he has created. I can’t wait for more from him.

  • Megs
    2019-03-18 18:52

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around this book, making it a bit tricky to rate and review. Like the first book in the trilogy, I found it pretty dark for middle grade. But it is quite unlike other books in the genre, so it definitely stood out and overall I did enjoy it.The Whisper picks up right after that crazy ending of The Riverman. I'm going to do my best to avoid any spoilers for book one, but it's pretty tricky, since the entire storyline of The Whisper stems from what happens in the last chapter of The Riverman.This is not a cheerful children's book. We see communities decay. We see the length an obsession with revenge can take someone. We see grey areas and question our point-of-view. While the book lacks in the cheeriness department (which is not necessarily a bad thing), it definitely does not lack in imagination. The author takes us on a wild journey through many highly interesting places.And the ending! Aaron Starmer knows how to do endings. Each book has ended with a huge "oh s**t" moment. I love cliff-hangers, so I am super excited for the final book after that ending!Overall, The Riverman Trilogy is in a league of it's own when it comes to middle grade fiction. And what a very dark, wildly imaginative league it is.

  • Alahna
    2019-03-16 21:49

    I think this might have been one of my most anticipated releases of 2015. and it did not disappoint. As with the Riverman I'm just sitting here staring at my closed book wondering "what the hell was that?" It was different than the first, but in a good way. a really good way. I can't be sure because it has been year since I read the Riverman, but i might even like it more. I can't form complete sentences about how much i actually enjoyed this or why I did, mainly because i JUST finished and it is now 2 am, but also because how can you possibly review a book like this? It's dark, it's creepy, it's completely engaging. It is the type of book that makes you think. Honestly, the only comparison i can think of is that it's like Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, but totally better. This is my favorite book I've read so far this year, and I'm not sure I'll be able to read something better. (I gave it 4 stars because It would be unfair to rate this 5 without rereading The Riverman. And yes, I mean it wouldn't be fair to the book. I'm weird. Get over it). 2015 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book by an author who shares your initials

  • Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
    2019-02-27 18:44

    ~ this book was a review copyIn the first book we were introduced to the major players: Alistair and Fiona, Charlie and Kyle, Baxter the Penguin, Chua Ling, and the Riverman.In THE WHISPER we still follow Alistair as he seeks Fiona; but we also meet more characters and more importantly Aaron Starmer, the author, gives us more insight and background into Aquavania.I love this series. Starmer's word-smithing is perfect for the story... and the plotting! The plotting is so convoluted and twisted and dark.If you liked THE RIVERMAN chances are you will like THE WHISPER. The approach to the story is different but the tone is very much spooky and addicting.

  • Aslee
    2019-03-14 21:39

    book three now plslike i have no thoughts that aren't long and rambling and rooted in the idea of what is good and what is evil so what you're getting is: i love aaron starmer's writing, and i love this trilogy, and i love love love that he defied every one of my expectations for this series. BOOK THREE NOW PLS

  • Patty
    2019-02-25 21:50

    I don't even know what to do with this book. When I finished The Riverman I shoved it at everyone and said "read this because I need to talk to someone about this book" and that's pretty much how I feel about this one as well. I will be very interested to see book three because I have no idea where this is going.

  • Erin
    2019-02-24 00:06

    I was on the fence about whether I needed to read this... but I kept thinking about it so I went ahead and started it. Then I couldn't put it down! Now there is no question about the third in the trilogy-- I am definitely going to read it. :)

  • Maeghan D
    2019-03-18 22:52

    Totally bizarre and wonderful and something that made me keep thinking, "I wish I could write something like this." Starmer has created a very, very cool thing. Again.

  • Jen
    2019-03-21 16:54

    3.5 - Not grounded enough in reality for me, but I'm still looking forward to reading the final novel in this trilogy.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-11 22:03

    I need the next one right now!

  • Shoshana G
    2019-03-16 19:08

    I do not understand what I just read???

  • WreckThatMargin
    2019-03-22 20:56

    I just can't believe it ended where it ended. It was just getting good!!! Arghhh!

  • Elizabeth Hashem
    2019-03-16 17:52

    This is more like 2.5 stars. The first book in this trilogy started off strong and I can say that I really enjoyed the first 2/3rds of it. The ending felt rushed and it didn't feel like a complete novel - it was like a whole book of exposition with no resolution. However, the writing itself was compelling enough and the story was weird enough that I was interested to see where it went. Unfortunately, the book was worse. Again, it was all just "middle" with far too many origin stories and a timeline full of anecdotes that didn't make sense. There were too many ideas with little cohesion. And the ending was, to me, kind of a cop out. I am curious to see how this story is wrapped up because it does feel like such a unique concept but I wish it were better executed. There is too much confusion and it is 2 books in and I have yet to see the author's point. I see some themes that make sense but the with way the author unfolds the story there is no clarity. My other complaint is I have no idea who the audience for this book should be. It is classified as "middle grade" but I kind of feel as if it should be considered teen. I definitely encourage middle grade books to be dark and to cover heavier topics but this one is more sinister than most with a lot of innuendos to sex, drugs, and alcohol. As well as the whole murder and "kids hurting kids" thing. But a teen classification also seems a little wrong since the protagonists are so young. Truthfully I only feel comfortable recommending this series to other adults or if I knew that the kid I gave it to was more emotionally mature. ANYWAYS this book is weird overall and I didn't really like it, but I want to know how this plays out.

  • Justice
    2019-02-27 22:50

    This is a great sequel, so far. The first book could almost (almost) have stood alone, but this book shifts enough in genre and style (though not tone and feel) that it works well. I really like the several stories going on at once.The ending was pretty cool, though not wholly surprising. (view spoiler)[I'm glad there's a hope for a happy ending, though since it's Starmer I'm not sure it'll end happily- it keeps the tension up! (hide spoiler)]

  • Adam James
    2019-03-01 19:57

    100 books read for 2017. At 11:55pm on December 31st. Well done, you old nerd.

  • Maia
    2019-03-07 21:08

    Oh snap! So good. Loved reading about the new characters and worlds in this book.