READ THE ORIGINAL AND COMPLETE REVIEW (AND MANY MORE) AT WORD SPELUNKINGThe synopsis to Charles Pulsipher’s The Crystal Bridge is quite brief and vague, so I really had no idea what to expect when I began this book, but it ended up taking me away on a thrilling and completely surprising ride from start to finish. MY BRIEF SUMMARYKaden, a teenage boy who can travel through wormholes, and Aren, a teenage girl who can see into the memories and souls of other people, are both pulled into one of Kaden’s wormholes and end up separated in a world full of magic, danger, and war. While back on Earth, in a mysterious and wondrous lab in the desert, a young geneticist, James, finds himself doing and creating things once deemed impossible. Kaden, Aren, and James find themselves swept away into their own adventures and find they each must play a significant role in saving, not only the world they call home, but the magical world of Ealdar from the dark god Rho. STORYThe Crystal Bridge offers a story quite unlike any I’ve ever read before. Pulsipher has taken the wonder of fantasy and the ever intriguing and thought provoking nature of sci-fi, added a sense of humor; compelling characters; and a lot of fun, to create a highly original and refreshing story.There is a lot going on in this book and many characters and storylines are introduced in the beginning, so reading the first few chapters did feel a bit like reading two different, separate books. But once the different storylines are quickly developed, they begin to intertwine and make sense, not just as individual storylines, but as two parts of a whole. And I found that the two different, yet equally captivating storylines kept the book from ever moving too slow or becoming boring. There was no real pattern as to what world (the lab on Earth or Ealdar) that each proceeding chapter would explore, so there were constant surprises, twists and turns, which kept me engrossed.I’m a huge lover of fantasy, and the fantasy aspects in this book are awesome! The world of Ealdar is home to different magical and fantasy beings, such as the Sidra, which Kaden describes as being elf like, the Dwaros, dwarf like beings that live underground, and the Ancients (dragons). There’s something wonderfully whimsical about Pulispher’s fantasy beings, yet there is also something very sophisticated and eloquent in their creation, much like Tolkien’s elves, dwarves, and hobbits. The physical world of Ealder that Pulsipher creates is simply spellbinding. From the beautiful forest home of the Sidra A’Keitane to the dazzling underground world of the Dwaros, this world is presented to readers with a vivid and imaginative flourish.The sci-fi elements are definitely intriguing, although most of the technical aspects kind of went over my head, which I found to be a little distracting at times. But for the most part, I found myself completely captivated by Pulsipher’s imagination and apparent and extensive scientific/technical knowledge. Plus, the things that James creates in the lab are wicked cool. Three words- Realistic Holographic Dinosaurs!Kaden and Aren’s special abilities are really neat and unique. Pulsipher has definitely added something very new to the concepts of wormholes and the power of empathy.I really liked the way the individual character stories unfolded and eventually intertwined. Each individual story really allowed me to get to know each character and added very well developed layers to the story as a whole. I had fun exploring and discovering the different parts of Ealdar with Kaden and Aren, I shared in James’ awe of the things taking place in the lab, and the action packed battle for Ealdar left me breathless.Pulsipher has created a story and worlds that are easy to get swept into and sad to leave. CHARACTERSThere is a large cast of likable, well developed characters in The Crystal Bridge, that offers a myriad of dynamic, fun, enjoyable personalities.Kaden and Aren are our two main teenage characters. They’re smart, brave, compassionate, stubborn, and witty. Not once while reading did I find myself not genuinely liking and rooting for these two. Even with their extraordinary powers, they’re both such realistic and relatable teenage characters. James is a really fun character, who provides a great deal of humor. Part of what makes this book so compelling to me, is how very attached and invested I became in these three characters and their stories.There are some fabulous supporting characters that I just fell in love with. Dveldor the Dwaro is equal parts adorable and fierce. Evandrel and Hasla, two Sidra A’Keitane, are tough but funny. And Lyle, the young King of Ealdar is kind of crush-worthy ;)And of course, you can’t have a great story without a great baddie, and the dark god Rho, also called the Devourer, makes for a chilling and exciting antagonist. RELATIONSHIPSThere are a lot of great relationships in this book and not just romantic ones, although there’s a few of those too.Friendships are very important in this story and I really enjoyed all of them, especially the unlikely ones. The unlikely and surprising friendships are a lot of fun and will leave you with a big smile and going “Aww”.And without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that the different romances are also fun to watch unfold and root for.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: The Crystal Bridge has an awesome blend of sci-fi and fantasy and offers a captivatingly original story. This is one book you really should read!