Jan 17, 12
Read on January 16, 2012
Before I ever read this book, I wrote a short story retelling of the same Scandinavian fairy tale along the same lines--appropriating the plot but filling in the details. Fairy tales, like a lot of oral traditions, are plot-driven and survive on the basis of being a fantastic story, but they're not so good at explaining things. So I understand the impulse to fill in the gaps, which inspired not only this author but at least two other novel-length retellings of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon."
I don't have much background in YA fantasy fiction (skipped that part of my reading life, for some reason), but I did recently read the Hunger Games so I'm going by that as a comparison. It really drives home the difference between a sloppy writer and a not-sloppy writer. Edith Pattou did her homework. She is relatively careful about details of place, time, and technology. She is not a sloppy writer, and I rejoiced.
However, this minimal requirement fulfilled, I'm not sure how good this is. Other reviewers pointed out the rushed ending, awkward romance and tendency to say "I just knew," "somehow I understood." I often wished for more depth in some places and less depth in others. On a scale of zero to infinity, this could have been done better. But in comparison to my expectations, it fares excellently.
Do not worry. Soon I will be back in school, and then my reviews will become much shorter.