Magic realism novels might seem strange and over-the-top, but there is always a "logic" to the magic, something that ties mysterious events and abilit...moreMagic realism novels might seem strange and over-the-top, but there is always a "logic" to the magic, something that ties mysterious events and abilities to the thematic development in a story. In Chocolat, it's the expression of sexuality through taste and touch. In A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, it's the intersection of belief and humanity.
I did not find that thematic logic in this novel.
I’d be lying if I said I never had daydreams about paintings coming to life, and Starry Nights is exactly that: a light and fluffy daydream of a novel. How Clio exists is not fully explained, with Daisy Whitney relying on magic realism to some extent, and I am still unsure whether it worked successfully. The relationship between Julien and Clio was not as well developed as I would have hoped, but younger and new readers starting out in contemporary YA romance will definitely find much to enjoy in this novel. My taste might be more to Whitney’s previous novels, The Mockingbirds.
Release Date:January 17, 2012 Publisher: Walker & Company Age Group: Young Adult Pages...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: January 17, 2012 Publisher: Walker & Company Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 264 Format: Hardcover Source: Personal copy
Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine —despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?
Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?
Discovery: The first time I heard about this book, it was being compared to If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I hadn't read that book yet, but I was interested, and when I finally got to read it, I became even more nervous about Fracture. Thankfully, all my fears were put to rest.
+ Characterization. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Fracture's Delaney Maxwell. The cover copy made her seem untouchable, one of the popular girls whose life changed in an instant. I doubted that I would actually like her, despite the hook of the story. Delaney surprised me, not just with an inner strength that made me admire her, but a concrete desire to be a good person. Sure, we can throw around words like "flawed" and "struggling," but neither of those words can encompass the full spectrum that is Delaney Maxwell. She's a girl who doesn't quite know what to do with herself, but she never tries to bring others down. She is introspective and stoic, but she is also afraid. Miranda captures all of the contradictions of the teenage existence in one voice. She made me want to be Delaney's friend, and that is the greatest compliment I can give a character.
+ Writing style. To best illustrate my point, allow me to quote from the book itself--
“I hadn't known that a light could be a feeling and a sound could be a color and a kiss could be both a question and an answer. And that heaven could be the ocean or a person or this moment or something else entirely.”
Megan Miranda's writing style is deceptively simple. These two sentences may not have any SAT words, but when you read them aloud? Pure music. Too often, we see writers that try to impress readers with their extensive vocabularies. Language is powerful when it is used sparingly, giving each word the power to knock a reader off their feet. Fracture is full of beautiful paragraphs and lines that you don't realize are strong until you actually shed a tear without knowing it. (I cried on the subway. No lie.)
+ Friendship. Where have all the friendships in YA gone? Many of the books I read today showcase friends who are fun to read about, but not really realistic. They're all so witty and snarky and I get that teens want that smartass (excuse my French) attitude, but let's be real. Friendship is also about the quiet moments. Decker and Delaney are not only Best Friends Forever, they are also the best friends FOR each other. They care for each other deeply, and they are not afraid to say "You're being a jackass, stop it" to each other. That requires bravery and strength, and they both make the story worth reading.
The final say: What else could I possibly say? Fracture is a book I'll be talking about to every reader I meet.
Release Date:October 25, 2011 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books Age Group: Young...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: October 25, 2011 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 240 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC from Claire Legrand
For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city.
There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship...and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.
+ World-building. The world that Jaclyn Dolamore creates in this novel is, bar-none, one of the most gorgeous settings I've read about in the last few years. It is a kind of scrappy beauty that permeates Esmerine's life, and I couldn't help but be awestruck at the sheer differences between our world and hers. I loved that mermaids co-existed with humans who co-existed with winged creatures. I loved the inevitable conflicts and the medieval feel to the book. Between the Sea and Sky inspired a sense of wonder in me up to the the very last page.
+ Romance. There has always been something inherently romantic about the idea of mermaids to me. Many stories about mermaids focus on what they can't have--relationships with humans--and what they have to give up to get it. And while I truly adore those stories of forbidden/sacrificial love, it's also lovely to have a story where things can work out for the best. Esmerine and Alandare are quite obviously meant for each other, but their love story doesn't feel contrived. In fact, I would say that they are at their best when they're with each other, which is ideal for any relationship.
- Point-of-view. I enjoyed reading this novel, but there were times that I had to work a little to make myself continue reading. My main issue was the point-of-view and the distance it creates between the reader and Esmerine. For the first few chapters, I felt like there was a glass wall between us: I could see what she was doing, and even understand why, but it didn't really affect me. I genuinely like her as a character, however, and I wish that had been more obvious from the start.
Recommendations: Definitely check this book out for the beautiful setting and romance, because it's worth the somewhat-slow first few chapters.
Discovery: I was perusing the New Teen Fiction page on the Toronto Public Library website a few weeks ago and saw this novel on the first page. I’ve b...moreDiscovery: I was perusing the New Teen Fiction page on the Toronto Public Library website a few weeks ago and saw this novel on the first page. I’ve been fascinated by Anastasia’s story ever since I saw the 1954 film with Ingrid Bergman.
+ Historical accuracy. No one will ever be able to say that Dunlap wasn’t true to Anastasia’s history. Everything, from the names of her nannies and guards to her hobbies inside the palace and to her most personal nicknames, is provided. Her life is literally an open book for the reader to step into and inhabit. I was especially impressed by Dunlap’s use of the family’s trips to characterize Anastasia and her sisters.
- Writing style. I’m not sure if this was deliberately written for the younger end of the YA spectrum, but the tone and style of the novel don’t fit Anastasia’s age. There were numerous paragraphs where facts were simply put into sentences, and at times it felt as though Anastasia was simply a detached observer of those events or people. While I understand that this book may be a reader’s first introduction to the Romanovs, a lot of the fact-listing proves to be unnecessary at the points in which they’re introduced.
- One-dimensional characters. This is the biggest problem I had with the novel. Over the course of my childhood and adolescence, I’ve run into many books and films that try to tell Anastasia’s story in a new way. That said, it takes a lot to impress me, mostly because there’s no real reinterpretation that can be done. It’s history.
This is the first novel I’ve read where Anastasia and her family felt like cutouts, paper dolls of the real thing. Some books, especially the Royal Diaries, are able to touch and take in the voice of the grand duchess and make her words believable. Anastasia’s Secret never really gets off the ground. While reading it, there’s always the sense that Dunlap is dancing around the real passions and interests of the princess without ever truly touching them. The relationship that springs up between Anastasia and a former palace guard falls flat almost as soon as it starts, because there is simply no spark. It’s difficult to believe because neither of them seem to actually like one another. The dialogue is apathetic and sparse which provides no help to the undeveloped characters.
Recommendations: Younger readers may enjoy this book, and as a history lesson, it’s certainly easy reading. Anastasia buffs can definitely pass this one up, however, as it doesn’t really add anything new to the story.