Summary: Briony is a witch. She knows because only she can see the Old Ones in the swamp around her village, and because her stepmother told her so. NSummary: Briony is a witch. She knows because only she can see the Old Ones in the swamp around her village, and because her stepmother told her so. Now her stepmother is dead, and Briony believes she is responsible. She atones for the crime by caring for her mentally different twin sister, Rose, while her preacher father pulls away from them both. She knows she must never let anyone know she is a witch, for the penalty is death. But when handsome Eldric arrives in Swampsea, he befriends Briony and is determined to puzzle out the truth about her, while she is desperately trying to find a way to placate the Old One who has brought a plague upon the village for draining his swamp.
Verdict: Franny Billingsley, where have you BEEN? Never leave us again!
Positive: Uh, it's Franny Billingsley. As usual, her writing is beautiful, lush, and just spot-on, and her heroine is both prickly and lovable, cowardly and courageous. I loved the setting and the use of swamp/bog Folk. The twist on the wicked stepmother was nicely executed, and the secondary characters were well-crafted. Most of all, I think the portrayal of romantic love here has a great message, especially contrasted with all the bad boy/helpless girl pairings one sees in teen fiction these days. Briony falls for Eldric because he is trustworthy and respectful of who she is, and because his friendship helps her become stronger, braver, and more at peace with herself. She rejects her other handsome suitor because he's a pushy jerk in the style of the more typical hero.
Negative: The book doesn't really drag, but it meanders a bit as Briony tries to find a way to appease the Boggy Mun who caused the swamp cough without getting herself killed. Multiple sideplots sometimes left me feeling shaken around, as though more plot got crammed into the book than would actually fit. The bulk of the ending was fairly easy to guess, but a couple of surprises popped up nonetheless, and the stellar writing made getting there all the fun, anyway!
Cosmetic: The cover of this book is beautiful, but the languid girl on the front is NOT Briony. The cover makes the book seem much sexier than it is. Briony is pretty darn repressed for most of the story....more
David Petrakis is my hero, too, Melinda. I want you both to come to dinner.
What do you mean, they aren't real?!
The world of Speak certainly feels shocDavid Petrakis is my hero, too, Melinda. I want you both to come to dinner.
What do you mean, they aren't real?!
The world of Speak certainly feels shockingly real. I felt as though I had unwittingly picked up the diary of a real girl as I followed the journey of Anderson's darkly hilarious, poetic, and frank narrator Melinda.
After a traumatic event over summer vacation, Melinda enters high school as a social outcast. Who can she share her troubles with? Her disinterested parents? Her ex-friends, who won't speak to her? Her new friend who is only interested in entering the "right" clique? Her out-of-touch, all-too-familiar teachers and school administrators?
With no one she feels she can trust, Melinda largely stops speaking at all. What follows is her struggle with depression, isolation, and despair as she looks within herself for the ability to overcome her pain.
Despite the cubic ton weight of the subject matter, I laughed out loud over and over at Melinda's one-liners, at the antics of her school's administrators, and the wise-beyond-his-age doings of David Petrakis My Lab Partner, a boy who is Melinda's, well, lab partner. I read about Melinda's confusion and cynicism, and wished so much that I could reach out to this invisible, imaginary person and offer comfort. I cheered her on in her decision to find her way free of the darkness others created for her.
I have nothing but praise for this book. I have no negative comments. Well, except that there isn't a sequel!...more