This book is like reading the Disney version of The Beauty and the Beast (to the point where you're quoting "you will join me for dinner. That's not a...moreThis book is like reading the Disney version of The Beauty and the Beast (to the point where you're quoting "you will join me for dinner. That's not a request!"), but without all the Stockholm Syndrome BS. Paige is repulsed by her lack of freedom. She doesn't find the her lack of power and abundant helplessness (at first) even remotely sexy.
This is what I love about this influenced work (oh, come on! The flower in the bell jar was a dead giveaway, and as many have argued this story is hardly original).
I wouldn't say this is the next Harry Potter (it's more adult). I wouldn't even compare the author with Rowling. They're not even writing about the same thing or setting or theme. But Shannon knows her way around words beautifully, and these days a mark of good writing is not how much are "original" ideas, it's about how you present a retelling. It's about how you let other work influence your writing in all the right ways. And it's about what you bring to what you've borrowed.
Instead, if you liked the Disney version of The Beauty and the Beast; Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle; Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone; and Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, you will probably find yourself in their displaced and bleak future London with throwbacks to the 19th century. By the way, this whole history of Ireland bit is wonderful. It feels legitimate.
There are very few insignificant and predictable elements, and an abundance of complex relationships (Nick, David, Liss, Carl, Seb, Jax, Warden, Didion...). There is no insta-love or false emotional need for someone else. In fact, at the end, (view spoiler)[they part ways because they have different goals and duties to themselves and others. (hide spoiler)] And this is what I love about this book. Everything feels like it has history; like there is something beyond what you are first introduced to. And that is the greatest advantage Samantha Shannon has honed within her writing. She has played the info dump card so sneakily, it's easier just to assume we'll come back to so-and-so's history at a later point.
That being said, I'm annoyed I have to wait for the next 6 books. I'll be nearly middle aged by the time they're all out. Ugh.
Also, anyone reminded of Gaston whenever they read about Jaxon? Except Jax is clever and is not afraid of thinking ("A dangerous pastime—" "I know. But that whacky old coot is Belle's father, and his sanity's only so-so.")["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Sentence: I sentence Gabrielle Zevin to life of eating chocolate without gett...moreGenre: Teen, dystopian, crime, mafia, realistic, fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars
Sentence: I sentence Gabrielle Zevin to life of eating chocolate without getting fat. :)
Review: Now, this book may be shaped like a chocolate bar waiting to be unwrapped from it's dust cover (wrapper), but it's not exactly the milk chocolate-y sweetness I expected. Instead, I had bitten into something quite bittersweet; the kind that should be saved for baking only.
In other words, this book is not quite...done, nor is it a happy love story of epic proportions. That is not to say it isn't a fantastic read, however. I've been waiting for a Dystopian teen story like this. I mean, sure, it's got the typical and silly romance, but Zevin acknowledges something bigger than that. In the background of Anya's hectic and criminally-tainted life (her father was like a criminal boss, except the illegal item he was dealing with was chocolate), the reader sees glimpses of a ruined country, overrun by the corrupt. There is a lack of water; museums have become clubs; alcohol is legal for all ages; authorities and politics are corrupt (more so than in the present, haha). It's like future Gotham City (except it's NYC), but realistic and without Batman.
Anya is desperate to keep her younger sister and her older, damaged brother safe from the tragedy of her birthright. A birthright she fights with every last fiber of her being. It probably doesn't help that her family's chocolate has been poisoned and people are dying. Not only does she have to deal with accusations of purposely poisoning her ex-boyfriend, but her brother has decided to work for the very family she has been protecting him from: her own.
This read is very reminiscent of Holly Black's Curse Workers trilogy, except without the magic. Zevin has created a great world of her own, without the aid of any fancy tricks or crazy-worldwide rebellions. She has created something I can believe and appreciate; especially the reason why things are the way they are.
I cannot wait to read the rest of this series.(less)