Reviewed for The Figment Review
. 4 1/2 stars.
Definitely the best book I've read this year so far. (But Hawktail
, cry the two or three souls who actually follow my reviews, The only book you've read this year so far is Hamlet!
I know, I know. Shuddup... Best book I've read in a while...)
Jude the Obscure, Jude the outcast, Jude the washout. Sixteen-year-old Jude, who loves theatre but can't bring herself to post the application to the Lab in London. Jude, who would give anything to get out of her life in tiny Churchtown, England. Jude, who wants more than anything to escape her father, who still hasn't gotten over her mother's death. Who wants to be her mother, a fabulous actress and model.
If all the world's a stage, Jude is an extra, the girl half-obscured by props who wishes to be centre-stage playing Ophelia.
And then Stella comes back.
Stella is Ophelia. Brash, brave and bold, she was Jude's best friend before she left, and now that she's back, all full of glitter and danger. Stella smokes, Stella drinks, Stella is everything that Jude wishes she could be and then some. Stella posts Jude's letter for her, Stella defends her against the school's native it-girls, Stella introduces her to alcohol and sex and as much as Jude loves her, she scares her as well. Stella makes Jude into someone else, someone confident and sexy and unafraid. With Stella, Jude can do anything.
As such, Jude does
do anything. Anything and everything she never believed she could do before, she does now, be it parties or drinking or finally posting that application... Stella beside her through it all, as even when Stella disappears, she always, always returns, just as Jude needs her most.
Let me just say, this book was fabulous.
That said, it took me a while to get into it. I'm not really a fan of the writing style, which is a little more detached than I generally prefer, and I spent a decent amount of time wondering where the book was going with one plotline or another. Emily, the head mean-girl at Jude's stuck-up private school, seemed to me more than a little overdone. Much of the book was spent wondering why characters weren't recognising Stella's presence, erm, at all
, or at least as much as they should have been.
The ending, however, made it all worth it, tying together all the loose ends in a neat package that has left me reeling. I could not put the book down for the last seventy pages or so, reading through the attempts at conversation by anyone and everyone around me. The ending, if you can make it that far, makes the rest of the book worth it. The shivers down my spine, the sudden BANG as a million puzzle pieces fit together all at once--the ending makes the waiting and confusion worth it.
In short, it's not bad
, but I'm not really into the writing style (personal choice, I guess); it's not that slow dry or confusing, but the ending is miles better anyway.