Hey Poptropicans! In this post, we’re going to take a good look at Poptropica: The End of Time, the fourth and final book in the Poptropica graphic novel series, which released September 12, 2017. It’s going to be a long post, but a good one!
You can get the book on Amazon, which ships worldwide (plus, it’s currently 25% off!). If you haven’t already, you’ll also want to check out the first 3 books in the series: Mystery of the Map (which also has an island in the game, reviewed here), The Lost Expedition (review here), and The Secret Society (review here). And now, onto the review!
A Spoiler-Free Overview
Good book reviews tend not to give away the entire story, so for this segment, we’ll be sticking to a (relatively) spoiler-free discussion of events. However, because this is a Poptropica fan blog and we tend to discuss as much Poptropica as we can, the rest of the review is going to have to give away some pertinent details (but we won’t ruin the whole reading experience for you). So here’s an overview of the book from us:
Following the events of The Secret Society, the trio – Mya, Jorge, and Oliver – are more lost than ever in their quest to find their way home. And Octavian is still in the picture, but as the way forward looks bleaker, it seems that all of them are wondering the same thing: What if their lives had been different? With flashbacks to events in each of their lives, the plot culminates as the Nexus is discovered. Known as the “heart of Poptropica,” its very existence (finally) explains Poptropica’s relation with the timeline of history on Earth as we know it as well as the presence of seemingly bizarre twists of our reality.
With the Nexus, it becomes possible to change fate itself. But who will go for it, and what’s at stake? As each character reflects on their own stories, we’re taken through both heartwarming and heart-wrenching times, and we ourselves may wonder what the cost of rewriting our own histories might be. With deep themes on the power of choice and treasuring the life we have, The End of Time is a brilliant conclusion to the Poptropica series that fans of all ages can resonate with.
Now the following segments are going to have some spoilers, so if possible, we recommend that you read the book first so we don’t ruin too many surprises.
The story picks up where we last left off in The Secret Society, the previous book in the series. Having brought about a cataclysm in the only place they knew to be safe, the trio – Jorge, Mya, and Oliver – are more concerned than ever about whether they’ll actually find a way out of Poptropica safely and return home. However, what makes The End of Time stand out from the rest of the Poptropica books are the flashbacks: we get glimpses into the lives of our main characters before this whole mess happened. (Plus, we learn the surnames of each of the kids!)
Octavian is our first flashback – and yes, he’s still alive. Octavian, as we know, was a member of the Secret Society that protected Poptropica. And now we see what turned him to rebellion: he meets a lady, Paulla, in 79 A.D. Pompeii, just before the infamous volcanic eruption that buried the Roman town. He would have saved her, of course, if it weren’t for the Secret Society’s #1 rule: History must be preserved at all costs. That’s why he’s been messing with the timeline: he’ll do anything to be reunited with his lover.
Meanwhile, Mya blames Oliver for the mess they are in, since he was the one to pull the plug on the Aegis earlier. In the next couple of flashbacks, we see that their sibling rivalry goes way back – in fact, we see how they became siblings in the first place. Mya’s mother had passed away, leaving Mya Wong with her dad, and Oliver’s father had walked out on their family, leaving Oliver Hartman with his mom. The two single parents somehow met, and eventually Kevin (Mya’s dad) married Sandy (Oliver’s mom). While Oliver was ecstatic to have his family expand, Mya is very clear to him about her feelings at the wedding, telling him: “…You are not my brother.”
Back to present day, the trio finds Jonas (the right-hand man of the Secret Society operation with Spencer Albright) still alive, albeit barely able to walk. But Jonas has a plan, thanks to a secret project Spencer started, which actually explains how Poptropica is connected to the real world as we know it (and where the kids came from). With the help of a secret submarine, they begin to make their way to the Nexus, or the heart of Poptropica – a land of limitless time crystals.
Oh, and Octavian has snuck his way on board the submarine – but before we deal with him, we’re taken to another flashback, starring Jorge Flores. The younger Jorge would love to play with his friends, but his mother’s overprotectiveness hasn’t exactly helped his street cred. Stuck with having just his mom for company, the two of them head to A-1 Balloon Tours, which, if you remember from Mystery of the Map, is where this all began. In a last-minute weight limit revelation, Jorge is directed to a balloon away from his mother, where he meets Oliver and Mya for the first time.
Now back to Octavian and the gang – now faced with having to spend time together on a submarine on autopilot, Octavian spills his heart about his desire to save Paulla, at the cost of everything else that his interference with the timeline entailed, including dragging the trio of kids into Poptropica, which, it turns out, he couldn’t care less about. And then they arrive at the Nexus.
This is where things get the most interesting. An unexpected guest shows up: Spencer Albright, the head of the Secret Society who was formerly erased from history by Octavian. Isn’t he supposed to be dead?! Well, as Spencer explains, he is gone from one time stream – but lives on in many others. As it turns out, he was wrong about something too: Poptropica doesn’t have just one history that needs protecting; instead, there are infinitely many possible time streams, and each one is as real as the next.
Of course, this begs the question the other characters have been wondering: can they change just one thing about their lives that they wish was different? The answer is yes – and each of them take turns touching the main crystal that allows them glimpses of their lives altered. Octavian, not too surprisingly, leaps at the chance, and is soon taken into the alternate time stream he prefers. Mya and the rest are tempted, too… but in the end, the trio decides, each individually but with the help of each other’s insights, that changing the things they wish so badly were different in their lives is not worth losing what they all have together.
With the portal of timeline travel right in front of them, the trio can finally head home – together – but before they do, Spencer puts Jonas in charge of the Secret Society, handing over his time crystal necklace for future adventures in protecting Poptropica. The kids each get one, too, promising to come back if Poptropica ever needs their help. And with that, they jump back into the time stream that lands them right back into their A-1 Balloon Tour. Though their balloon has had a crash landing, it seems no time at all has passed in their world, and everyone – including the parents – are glad they’re back.
All the main characters really get a chance to shine in The End of Time, and not only do they learn something about themselves and their lives, their journey also brings them closer to the one(s) they love.
Everyone can’t help but wonder how things could have been different in their lives, but no one wants things to change as badly as Mya. Ever since her mother’s death, Mya can’t help but think that she was robbed of the life she was supposed to have. When Octavian gives his spiel about losing Paulla, both in the submarine and at the Nexus, it’s Mya who’s leaning the closest – Mya actually feels for Octavian in those moments.
Octavian, of course, doesn’t hesitate to jump into the time stream where he will be with Paulla, once the opportunity presents himself. It makes sense, since it was his one and only goal in life to be reunited with her. Despite his villainous track record with the kids, he still has his humanizing moments when he explains that everything he did, he did for Paulla, even at the cost of almost killing the kids (and erasing Spencer from one time stream) for being in the way of his mission to get her back. Even to the end, he still holds resentment against Spencer for trying to stop him.
Although it’s kind of nice to see Octavian get his happy ending, he never really shows remorse towards the kids. But perhaps, like real life, we just have to accept that some people simply won’t be sorry, and the best we can do is part ways with them. And it also shows a dimensionality to his character: we can’t consider Octavian purely a villain, because his intentions were good, but at the same time, he cared so much about one person that he neglected to care about many others.
The choice to alter their lives, however, is not so clear for the three kids. For easygoing Oliver, he loves his new family – but he still misses his biological father. But a glimpse into a possible future with him reveals something he hadn’t expected: in Oliver’s words, “My dad’s kind of a jerk.” The friendship-starved Jorge has a similar revelation when it’s his turn at the omniscient crystal: the “friends” he knew turn out to be kind of jerks, too.
And it’s when Jorge realizes that he’s met his best friends right here, in Poptropica, that Mya finally gets on board with everything her life has become. She may not have her mother anymore in this time stream, but if she did, she wouldn’t have met Oliver and Jorge. It’s a conflicting choice, having to choose one version of events over another – but in the end, Mya decides that the life she has with Oliver and Jorge is what things have turned out to be in this particular time stream, and she’s able to find satisfaction in that. We might wonder if we would have had the courage to say the same about our own lives.
So in the end, all our main characters are able to find what they’re looking for. For Octavian, he remains his Paulla-centered self, never truly feeling the effects of all the damage he caused along the way. For the kids, they gain a newfound appreciation for what life has thrown at them, in both good times and bad. Even though there are things they thought they wanted to change, all three of them have come full circle to realize that their struggles have played important roles in each of their lives.
Just like in the previous books, The End of Time contains various references to popular culture, which are always fun to find. We’ll bring up the ones we found interesting, but there may be more surprises in the book!
In a flashback to a past Christmas, Mya is given a box set of a Philip Pullman trilogy called “His Dark Materials.” Of the fantasy novels, Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife are seen on p. 19 and The Amber Spy Glass is on p. 24. (Side note: Northern Lights was published as The Golden Compass in North America, and has a film version as well.) What’s even more interesting is that Mitch Krpata, the author of The End of Time, shared in an interview with the PHB that he absolutely loves the “His Dark Materials” trilogy and even named his daughter after the main character, Lyra. So, it’s a nice plug for one of his favorite book series!
Although it could perhaps be assumed based on the locations of Poptropica HQ and the people who made this graphic novel happen, we can see that “home” for our trio of kiddos (Mya, Jorge, Oliver) is the United States. On p. 21, as Mya goes through a sequence of events, her surroundings hint at a rather American lifestyle and traditions such as the 4th of July (American flag included) and Halloween (with other kids dressed up as Harry Potter and The Joker). (Curiously, there’s even a church scene.)
On p. 41, Oliver’s mother’s phone contacts include Jack Chabert (pen name of Max Brallier, author of the first Poptropica graphic novel and Galactic Hot Dogs, whose icon is F.R.E.D. from GHD), Jess Brallier (Poptropica’s former president, whose icon is Zeus), C. Kochman (likely Charles Kochman, a publisher at Abrams who is credited at the back of the book, whose icon is a Poptropican with black hair and beard), Chad B. (likely Chad Beckerman, also from Abrams and credited at the back, whose icon is a Poptropican with glasses, spiky gray hair and stubble), Oliver Sr. (Oliver’s finger covers his picture), and Jeff Kinney (whose icon is Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid).
The cereal Oliver eats (also p. 41) is called Sugar Bombs, which is a cereal found in the Fallout video game series.
While none of the Poptropica islands we know from the game actually appears by name or scenery in the graphic novels, p. 81 does include a reference to Crisis Caverns Island, as Jorge panics about the possibility of encountering a “giant worm or mole person!”
At the discovery of the Nexus (p. 84), the characters contemplate worlds of alternate realities, many of which refer to our real world, except of course the events are slightly different. We see the Soviets land on the moon first, Pepsi reign as the #1 cola drink, and Hillary Clinton inaugurated as US President.
Other alternate worlds (or time streams), Jonas explains, may be wildly different from our own, and that’s where we get the more unique islands and characters like Binary Bard from Astro-Knights Island.
Conclusion: 5/5 time crystals
All things considered, The End of Time feels like a solid conclusion to the Poptropica graphic novel series. In fact, it may even be the best book of the series. Of course, you’ll want to have the other books to make the most sense out of it, but even on its own, it tells a striking story about facing up to your past and living in your present.
We learned a bit about how Poptropica works in The Secret Society – islands float up from time to time, stopping by on “the highway of history” – but The End of Time expands on this and fills in the gaps. In this book, we find out more about the nature of Poptropica, especially in relation to our real world; we learn about the Nexus, which is the one spot where these islands surface, and where we can jump from one time stream to infinitely many others, sometimes with bizarre creations. It makes our understanding of Poptropica a whole lot richer, and it would be awesome to see this brought to the game as well. And islands for the latter three books in the series would be amazing, too.
Perhaps the greatest theme for this book was the whole idea of what Spencer called “finding meaning in struggle.” Because we all struggle, and we don’t usually have the time crystals to escape it. But we can wallow in our struggles for the longest time like Mya, or kick everyone out of our way in our quest to regain our own strength like Octavian – or we can learn to live with the fact that things are not always as we hope, as the kids eventually did. One way or another – whether through a perplexed acceptance or a hope in a divine hand – each of us can find the silver lining to our dark storm clouds.
This story is full of adventure and has its fair share of bittersweet moments, culminating into a fine ending for a fine book series that any Poptropica fan can enjoy. In case you haven’t already, you should catch up with the first three books in the series as well. Whether you’re looking for thought-provoking themes or just a fun read, you can find them with the Poptropica series.
Thanks for sticking with us in this long post – this may even have ended up taking up more words than the book itself (oops). Anyway, be sure to pick up your copy of The End of Time, and share your thoughts and criticisms in the comments below!