I have two problems with this book. First is names: the main character is Jesse, his friend is Jake, and Dad's girlfriend is Jessica. Two characters in the secret world are Renna and Rosa. The names were too similar. I wish they had been more distinct, I sometimes thought Jake was speaking when it was actually Jesse, and vice versa. Sometimes it was a bit confusing.
The second is pacing. Maybe I'm not use to YA novels, but it seems a lot of time was spent on the relationship between Dad and Jesse, and adjusting to life in Oklahoma. Once Jesse and Jake enter Ambyth, the story goes on at a fast pace. The situation and villains are quickly set up. A plan is devised by the heroes to help the local people and then it is enacted. I wished more time had been spent exploring Ambyth. Another 50 or 100 page of setting up the world they live in, and the background of the Black Meisters, would have been interesting. The author set up an interesting world; a dark, 21st century Neverland, and I think the book could have benefited from a bit more world building. After reaching Ambyth things just felt too rushed; again I don't really know if it is the natural pacing of YA novels or the author, but the beginning dragged a little bit and had great moments of character interaction, but after going through the paper wall too much happens too fast.
But this is still a good book. I like that the characters aren't sullen, love-struck teenagers, and the message to be yourself and to believe in the power of thoughts and words is a positive one. Heidi Nichole Bird has great potential as a writer. It will be nice to see what else she has up her sleeves.