An interesting premise, but ultimately the book was more about Ozma's relationship with her father than about the books they shared. I'd expected more...moreAn interesting premise, but ultimately the book was more about Ozma's relationship with her father than about the books they shared. I'd expected more about the books - what specific books meant to them and how they shaped her life - but that doesn't end up feeling like the main point. It's more "my father" than "the books we shared," to borrow from the subtitle.(less)
While this is a book with fairies (or creatures that the narrator calls fairies for lack of a better word) it's not fantasy. Yes, there's a bit of mag...moreWhile this is a book with fairies (or creatures that the narrator calls fairies for lack of a better word) it's not fantasy. Yes, there's a bit of magic, but at it's heart it feels like a story about being fifteen, while not feeling like a young adult novel. Although I think it would have enormous appeal for some young adults - the kind who like Mori are absorbed in a world of books, where opinions on topics like politics and sex and religion are formed by reading as much, or more than, by experience. Ahem, no, I never felt any similarities to her at all (especially not when she sings the praises of the library).
Mori tells her story as diary entries, which gives a sense of immediacy rather than being told in retrospect, but somehow Walton manages to make the tone of the book perfect for adults looking back at adolescence and still making sense of it. I don't know how she gives it, but as Mori would say, it's "brill."
It's not an action-driven story, and like other reviewers have commented, the dramatic bits of the plot mostly take place off the page, before the book starts. Most of the story deals with day-to-day life in the aftermath of a life-changing event, with grief and pain (physical, mostly, but it's closely tied to the emotional) and classes and navigating the waters of friendship and relationships. There's a scene at the end where the fantastical elements of the story come into play, but it feels anti-climactic. I can't decide if this is perfect for the story - it IS, after all, an anti-climax to the events that occurred before the story starts - or if it felt like a let-down, mostly because it was a bit rushed in Mori's account of events.
Even if that is a weakness of the book, it hardly detracts from how much I felt at home reading it. Another reviewer said that, "in many ways this book is as much a love story about a girl and the interlibrary loan system as it is about a girl and a boy," and I confess that it's certainly added to my joy in placing interlibrary loans for patrons! I loved the librarian characters and the way they encourage Mori and go out of their way to get her books. Reading this made me miss those days when it felt like I had nothing to do but read, when acquiring books felt important and slightly desperate. If you've ever read that way, this is a book for you.
Also, the book should come with a reading list of Mori-approved titles - I was never a big SF reader, but I felt a thrill whenever she read something I love (Brat Farrar!)
If you're one of those people who likes to go back and reread childhood favorites, who likes to marvel and what you remember so vividly and what you c...moreIf you're one of those people who likes to go back and reread childhood favorites, who likes to marvel and what you remember so vividly and what you completely forgot, who loves to make snarky comments about books that you really adore - then you should take a look at this. Skurnick's style is hilarious, making me want to go out and reread my own favorites plus take a look at the things I missed. Watch out - your reading list might become a lot longer.(less)
Reading this was pleasantly reminiscent of art history classes - I particularly enjoyed Evans' comments about the uses of form, composition, color, te...moreReading this was pleasantly reminiscent of art history classes - I particularly enjoyed Evans' comments about the uses of form, composition, color, technique, perspective, etc. in the work of the picture book illustrators she highlights. It made me want to sit down with a giant stack of picture books and look at them for how the illustrations tell the story, how each page turn is important, and all of that. Some of the illustrators she highlights were already favorites of mine, like Trina Schart Hyman, Brian Selznick, and David Wiesner; others were illustrators whose work I've enjoyed, but never been particularly struck by, and others I'd tried to like but hadn't quite. With each illustrator, Evans gives us a good overview of their work and style, a brief biography, and discusses the influences on the artist and why they are a good example of the art of picture book illustration. A few illustrations per person are discussed in depth, which only whets the appetite for MORE. It's a very accessible book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves picture books or is interested in the process of book and illustration creation. The only thing I would've liked to see were works in progress, although including them might have made the book an unmanageable size.(less)
I loved the build-up of this novel - knowing that Una will eventually marry Ahab, but not knowing how that will come about made for a great sense of a...moreI loved the build-up of this novel - knowing that Una will eventually marry Ahab, but not knowing how that will come about made for a great sense of anticipation. The story of her childhood and growing up was also fascinating, particularly the parts of the story set at the lighthouse. However, once Big Things Happen and Una meets Ahab, I lost a little of that sense of anticipation and lost a little interest, even though I still thought the characters and plot were compelling. I just wasn't as hooked anymore, and that was a little disappointing. I also felt a little hit over the head with the Moby Dick allusions - which would probably fly right past someone who hadn't read Melville's novel (and you can definitely read this one without knowing anything about Moby Dick). For some reason the Ishmael bits were Just Too Much. Overall, though, a very engrossing piece of historical fiction with plenty of plot and interesting characters.(less)
I liked the premise, and I liked the execution. My favorite parts may have been the Hanna sections, but I enjoyed the variety of the historical segmen...moreI liked the premise, and I liked the execution. My favorite parts may have been the Hanna sections, but I enjoyed the variety of the historical segments and the way they all tied together. The audio version was great. I'm no expert on accents - and there are a LOT - but it never sounded 'off' to my ear and I enjoyed the variety. I couldn't help thinking, though, the whole time I listened, that this would have been a much better book in the hands of Mary Doria Russell. It could have been more introspective and subtle and fine-tuned, with the same plot-line. Brooks, I think, tends a little towards making a big impression, and the writing loses a little emotional depth in the process. All that said, if the premise sounds intriguing, it's worth a read.(less)
A quick little read, this a good pick for people who like reading about reading. What would happen if the Queen turned into an avid reader? And then,...moreA quick little read, this a good pick for people who like reading about reading. What would happen if the Queen turned into an avid reader? And then, what if she decided that simply reading wasn't enough? Funny and entertaining, with lots of "I know that feeling" observations about being a reader.(less)