This book had everything going for it for me to love it. Great trailer, beautiful cover, interesting summary, lots of great reviews from students and...moreThis book had everything going for it for me to love it. Great trailer, beautiful cover, interesting summary, lots of great reviews from students and teachers, AND it's a dystopia, which is my favorite. I had my eye on it long before the publication release date and was really excited to sink my teeth in.
I just wasn't "feeling" this one. The relationship between Ky and Cassia was unconvincing; I felt like it would have been more realistic had she chosen Xander. The characters were boring, the romances lukewarm, and the society very been-there-done-that. There was very little action, no "raging" at all, just a lot of thinking and talking. I kept waiting for something to happen, but it just never did.
WHAT I LIKED: When I was a little girl, one of my favorite cartoons was A.J. Jacobs's "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. I still love fractured fairy tales and even have a book of A.J. Jacobs's Fractured Fairy Tales today.
As the author of Beastly and A Kiss in Time, Alex Flinn has made a name for herself as a fractured fairy tale novelist for teens, and I really appreciate what Flinn has done for some of the lesser-known fairy tales. While many have heard of "The Frog Prince" (due in part to the recent Disney film adaptation), Cloaked incorporates "The Valiant Tailor," "The Elves and the Shoemaker," and "The Fisherman and His Wife," among others. Flinn weaves these very different stories together seamlessly, leaving no tale with loose-ends. In doing so, she introduces a new generation of teens to seven more obscure traditional tales.
I liked the book best when Johnny's best-friend Meg entered the adventure. Meg has had a huge crush on Johnny for years, but Johnny (who has some feelings for Meg as well) is absolutely clueless about her feelings. Meg is hiding more than her crush, and as the story continues, readers will see that Meg has lots of tricks up her sleeve.
I love how Johnny works so hard to support his family and worries about his family's bills. As a teen, I would have related to that, and I know lots of young readers will also know that life all too well. Like any good fairy tale, there are morals. Hard work and honesty are rewarded in the end. Sometimes you have to fight to find the one you love. And no matter how hard you have it, you could always become a talking fox digging for food in a dumpster.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Johnny's character is infuriating! How clueless can one person be? Meg bombards him with hints, clues, and pretty much TELLS him that she loves him, and he still doesn't get it. Even though he sees that magic is real, Johnny doesn't see that Meg has magic after countless inexplicable incidents. Johnny may work hard, but his oblivion is irritating. Smart, resourceful, and magical, Meg really could have done the entire journey by herself and probably could have finished in half the time. Considering how clueless Johnny is, it's a wonder why she held out for him all those years.
The French accents are annoying and painful to read. Princess Victoriana and Prince Philippe may be hot, but it's strange how they think everyone wants to marry them.
I just wasn't turning the pages like I did with Beastly and A Kiss in Time. Unlike Flinn's previous two books, the romantic chemistry between the two main characters is lukewarm at best. I found myself skimming in areas; I just didn't care enough for Johnny to worry about how he would get out of certain situations. While lots happens on the journey, it is all very predictable. I knew Johnny would ultimately beat the witch, fell the giants, and (eventually!) discover his love for Meg.
Language: virtually none; one curse word (in French)
Sexuality: mild; a few chaste kisses
Violence: mild; fairy tale witches/magic
Drugs/Alcohol: mild; lots of references to the princess's perceived partying/drug/alcohol habit
STATUS IN MY 6-8 LIBRARY: Considering the popularity of Beastly and A Kiss in Time in my library, I purchased three copies of Cloaked when it first came out. Students definitely do check it out, but I don't hear them buzzing about it like I do with the other two. My library has 35 copies of Beastly (no kidding), and I still could not keep them on the shelves last school year. Likewise for our six copies of A Kiss in Time. Our three copies of Cloaked are often checked out, but they just do not have the same following as the other two.
Finally getting around to this sequel to Everlost. The first one was an unusual novel about life after death. I hope Allie and Nick find each other ag...moreFinally getting around to this sequel to Everlost. The first one was an unusual novel about life after death. I hope Allie and Nick find each other again in this one.(less)
WHAT I LIKED: I read and loved The Seer and the Sword about ten years ago when it appeared on the Texas Lone Star Reading List. As a librarian ten years later, I have tried many times since to promote it to my students, but I couldn't remember the story well enough to really do it justice; all I remembered is that I really loved the story.
Every school year, I select 10-15 books to add to the Lone Star list for my students to read for a district-wide reading incentive. I decided to add The Seer and the Sword this year, and I reread it so I remember it clearly.
I loved this book years ago, and I still love it. With plenty of action, romance, and tension, it's just SUCH a well-told story that will keep readers turning pages. I can't imagine anyone not loving this book, even if they are not huge readers of the fantasy genre. Readers will root for Torina and Landen, both privileged children of kings, both teens forced into exile. The story spans about nine years of their lives as both grow in strength, wisdom, and character. This book is one of my all-time favorite YA reads; if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for?
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Such a great book; such a TERRIBLE front cover! Torina looks crazy and evil on the cover, which is not at all the case. I know for a fact that the red-haired girl on the cover definitely keeps boys from checking it out. Two different boys at my school (who read and loved it) told me that they were embarrassed by the cover and tried to keep it hidden as best as they could.
I'm sure there are reviewers out there who will criticize the writing style of The Seer and the Sword, and I will give it to them that Hanley's writing style (particularly the italicized "thinking moments" that appear throughout) can be a little disjointed at times. To those critics, however, I have one thing to say--who cares? The Seer and the Sword is just plain engrossing and fun--storytelling at its best.
Sexuality: mild--some kissing
Violence: mild-medium--some murders and attempted murders, sword fighting
Drugs/Alcohol: mild; one character becomes unknowingly addicted to sedatives; adults get drunk and pass out
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, and I am ordering additional copies since I am adding it to our Lone Star Plus this year. I have recommended this book to many, many students and teachers. The ones who check it out come back raving about it. The problem is the terrible front cover, which I believe deters many students from experiencing the book's greatness. So sad. I have plans to re-cover my library copies with a removable plain black cover. (less)
**spoiler alert** Ugh, just terrible. Single plot line, virtually NO character development, an unbelievable romance, a predictable murderer. I couldn'...more**spoiler alert** Ugh, just terrible. Single plot line, virtually NO character development, an unbelievable romance, a predictable murderer. I couldn't even tell you what the characters look like other than that Ben is "beautiful," which was stated over and over and over. The red font of the word "moon" was initially kind of cool, but ultimately, it was gimmicky. No real reason for it--the moon had nothing to do with anything in the story. Lots of things could have been explored but weren't (the blood-red hair, Louis and Renee's relationship, the dad's relationship with his mother, exactly when Ron went so crazy, etc.) Seriously a waste of my time.(less)
Students will love it, especially the ones asking for CSI/ crime novels. The time periods got a little confusing (flashbacks, flashforwards, present t...moreStudents will love it, especially the ones asking for CSI/ crime novels. The time periods got a little confusing (flashbacks, flashforwards, present time), but it was still a fun read!(less)
A really cool twist on the Dracula story. Loved the format! I also really liked the Jonathan/Mina/Van Helsing love triangle. Some Dracula purists won'...moreA really cool twist on the Dracula story. Loved the format! I also really liked the Jonathan/Mina/Van Helsing love triangle. Some Dracula purists won't like that, but if it was too much like the original, it would be too predictable. Will be easy to recommend to the girls who can't get enough TTYL-type books. Great fun! (less)
HUH-LAR-EE-YUS! Laugh-out-loud funny! Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. Language is clean and nothing obscene. Might be a good addition to the lib...moreHUH-LAR-EE-YUS! Laugh-out-loud funny! Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. Language is clean and nothing obscene. Might be a good addition to the library, but I don't know if my students know who Mr. Bean is or if they like him. (less)