3.5 out of 5 stars It's rare that I spend so much time frustrated with a heroine and then have such a complete change of heart as the story progresses3.5 out of 5 stars It's rare that I spend so much time frustrated with a heroine and then have such a complete change of heart as the story progresses. I went through literally the first half of this book annoyed with Rosalinda Fitzroy, a sixteen-year-old girl who has just been awakened out of stasis sleep with a kiss. She doesn't really ask enough questions to find out what's been happening since she was last conscious. She falls in love far too easily. She narrates with too many exclamation points. She says that "she's not really that smart." She says that again to someone else at a later date. Frankly, all in all she's kind of wimpy, and as such, she almost got categorized that way on my virtual GoodReads bookshelf.
But then I found out why she does all this. And the reason behind it is really, really sad.
The story also seems to take off at that point, as Rose discovers the terrible truth behind her chemically-induced slumber and realizes that she not only has to stay awake, but she also has to live. This futuristic retelling of Sleeping Beauty would, on the surface, seem like it would be just another boy-awakens-pretty-girl-slays-dragons-and-lives-happily-ever-after tale, but that's not the case. Instead, it's actually a very interesting science fiction story about a girl who finally finds out who she is and starts to figure out who she wants to be.
Along the way, Rose deals with a complications including Bren, the attractive boy who awakened her from her sleep; her grief over the loss of her dead parents and her long-lost boyfriend Xavier; her stalled attempts to study art; her memories of her childhood ally, Asa; and her friendship with an unusually appealing, lonely alien named Otto. There's also a really cool killing thing that is chasing her for unknown reasons, the details of which I won't spoil, but whose every appearance made me sit up and do a happy little wriggle in my seat. I also really enjoyed the cool stasis technology and the action sequences that show up towards the end, all of which were very well written and well thought out.
I do wish, however, that some of the dialogue wasn't so clunky in parts, that there was more showing and less telling, that some of the world-building was a little more complex, and that some of the names weren't quite so cutesy. (Unicorn Estates, really?) It would also help if it didn't take us quite so long to get to the point where we understood why Rose's character took the shape it did. However understandable the big picture, it's hard to feel sympathy in the moment for a character who decides to go away for two weeks and opens up a bag of dog food on its side for her pet, saying that she knows he'll be able to drink out of the toilet. All because she's depressed over a boy. Not cool, Rose! Not cool at all.
In the end, however, the story won me over with a very original concept, some really cool futuristic technology, some fairly bittersweet emotions later in the story, and best of all, the promise of a heroine who is just developing into a pretty interesting individual. The author pulled off a neat trick with her risky gamble in presenting the story the way she did, and I enjoyed the last half of the book enough to be curious about whatever she chooses to write next.
It's a tricky situation when you're really looking forward to reading a book and it ends up being a disappointment. I normally post my reviews fairlyIt's a tricky situation when you're really looking forward to reading a book and it ends up being a disappointment. I normally post my reviews fairly quickly after reading, but I put off writing this one for some time because I was so conflicted over my feelings.
The thing is, I really enjoyed Stork, the first book in this series, for several reasons: the strikingly original paranormal concept of a girl who is destined to be part of a mystical order of women, the fresh and funny voice, the cute relationship between Katla and Jack, and the bits of Icelandic lore. I thought that the paranormal stuff could have been more fleshed out, however, and I was hoping that this second installment would more fully explain what Katla's duties and powers actually are and we'd get a little more immersed in the mysterious Stork society.
But that's not the case. The story goes off onto a different adventure, most of which involves how Katla deals with Jack and his new obsession with learning about his power, which made a bizarre appearance towards the end of the previous novel. So all the things I enjoyed about the first book go out the window pretty fast, particularly the Stork ladies (this storyline is half-heartedly revisited, but quickly abandoned) and the relationship between Jack and Kat. There's now a giant wedge between them in the shape of a Professor Brigid Fonnkona, an icy environmental researcher who is determined to take him to Greenland. Frost is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, so those familiar with the tale will have an inkling of how those elements take shape in the modern version.
What would have been impossible to predict, however, are all the subplots that kept piling on in this book. Something weird is going on with Katla's afi. The kids are doing a musical version of The Snow Queen at school. Kat's mom is pregnant. Her dad is around, but...extraneous. Her friends are fighting. Hulda is sick. Kat may or may not be seeing ghosts. Dorit has been kicked out of the society and has disappeared. There are so many new people and new plots to assimilate, and none of the old ones were at all adequately explained. It seems as though most of these problems could have been fixed during the outlining process, so I am very surprised that they were not.
After awhile, I realized that I was never going to get the answers to my questions from the first book and I probably would never get answers to the new ones popping up. Because frankly, I'm not sure that there is an overall plan figured out for these characters, either. While there were occasional moments towards the beginning that recalled what I enjoyed about the first book (Yule Cat, Santa, Pig-Pen), overall reading this book and watching the story line derail was an extremely frustrating process.
I wouldn't rule out checking out another one of this author's books sometime down the road because I do like her voice, but it will be with an extremely guarded and wary eye. I was really sad when I closed this book 10 days ago, and I'm still sad that the promise of the series' premise will apparently never be fulfilled.
3.5 stars I really liked Angel and was very excited to see where the story would go next. The rest of this is slightly spoilery, but it's probably not3.5 stars I really liked Angel and was very excited to see where the story would go next. The rest of this is slightly spoilery, but it's probably nothing that hasn't been predicted before.
I expected that since Alex and Willow got together in the last book, there would be conflict between them in this one--and to be sure, they're not only separated and have misunderstandings, but there's also the introduction of a second love interest. I wasn't a big fan of this idea since I really liked Willow and Alex together, but surprisingly, I found that Seb really grew on me, so that I'm now just as confused as our heroine is as to which boy is the better choice. Kudos to the author for that!
The central plot involving the angels taking over the earth and the Angel Killers is still entertaining, although it's not quite as exciting or cleanly plotted as the first book.
Very much looking forward to book three. I'm taking off half a point, however, because at over 600 pages, the book was much too long. I think it easily could have lost at least 200 pages without the plot being affected. There are also far too many POVs.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review....more
What's a bear to do when he's misplaced his hat? He has to ask all the other animals he meets whether they've seen it, of course!
This charming pictureWhat's a bear to do when he's misplaced his hat? He has to ask all the other animals he meets whether they've seen it, of course!
This charming picture book caught my eye immediately because of the humorous illustration on the cover, and I'm delighted to say that the contents are just as endearing. This story about a well-mannered bear on a quest to find his missing hat is told in simple language, and shares the same sort of gentle mischief that you might find in Sandra Boynton's books for toddlers. I chuckled quite a few times as I turned the pages, but the artwork is really where this book shines. The author/illustrator Jon Klassen did the lovely drawings for the popular The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, and also served as an animator for the feature film Coraline.
I've included a couple of illustrations below, but if you'd like to see more images from the book or to purchase prints, one of my favorite independent galleries in Los Angeles currently has some of the artist's work available at Gallery Nucleus. You can also watch the short but adorable book trailer (that Jon Klassen made himself, btw!) to get a feel for the tone of the book as well.
I Want My Hat Back is a quick and funny read, and one that should be engaging not only for young book lovers, but entertaining for the adults in their lives as well. I can think of several sets of new parents who would absolutely love it.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.