Misty's Reviews > Impossible

Impossible by Nancy Werlin
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Apr 04, 10

bookshelves: excited-for, folklore-myth-fable-fairy-tall-tale, juvenile-ya, own, read-in-2010, retelling, cover-appeal
Read from March 04 to 08, 2010

Slightly under a 4 due to the style and some issues, but all in all, I liked it.

I was excited for this one because of this gorgeous cover. And in some ways, it lived up to my excitement, while at the same time, falling short in others. Werlin presents a very modern, disturbing slant on the age old ballad. She layers the book with enough realism and negativity (nothing is ever falsely sugar-coated; Lucy is a realist, if nothing else) that I was able to believe that things may not be wrapped up with the expected "happily ever after." I like having that doubt when I read a story, because I like thinking that an author is going to do what's right for the story and the characters they have created, and not cop out with an easy, happy ending. Because of this realistic streak and clearheadedness from Lucy, the magical elements of the story, no matter how far-fetched, seemed more balanced and true, which I definitely liked. Lucy felt real, and I cared about her and the plight of the Scarborough women.

And I liked what Werlin did with the ballad. In her afterword, Werlin talks about how the book came about, saying she loved the Simon and Garfunkel version as a kid, but as she got older and really listened to the words (in which a man requests that a woman complete impossible tasks to be his true love), she had an epiphany: he doesn't love her, he hates her. Faced with this new 'understanding' of the ballad, Werlin set about fleshing out their story; clearly, there was once something between them, but something soured it. Her story of Impossible grew from this seed. This idea really struck me. I liked the idea that she was revisiting something and approaching it from a fresh angle, and that whole "thin line between love and hate" element was brilliant, I think, and a very adult take for a YA novel. I really liked this aspect.

Unfortunately, it was inconsistent. Werlin's adult application to the story wasn't carried throughout. Sometimes the writing was very adult and forward, and sometimes it was almost juvenile and a bit weak for me. The characters, too, were inconsistent. The Elfin Knight (bad guy of yore) was very villainous, for sure; at times he made my skin crawl, which was great*. But there are more fine lines than the one between ♥/hate, and his villain-line was occasionally crossed into cheese territory. I wish she would have dialed it back just a bit at the end. And though Lucy felt fleshed out and real to me, the other important characters felt occasionally cardboard. Not always, by any means, but I just found myself wishing for a little more from them.

Now, all this being said, I didn't dislike the story. It didn't live up to the excitement generated by its cover or the subject matter, or to the really good threads I saw running through it -- but it wasn't a failure, either, and I don't regret buying it. I could tell it was well researched and plotted out, but it just had a tendency, especially in the beginning, to feel a little clunky and young. In spite of this, I found myself engaged, and I didn't ever not want** to read it; I found myself thinking about Lucy and the tasks, and the story in general, and that's a good sign. With a little more finesse, I think I'd give it an enthusiastic recommend, but instead it's a reserved one. If you like fairytale retellings and stories that make you a little uncomfortable, you'll like this one and will likely be able to overlook the issues; if you don't, I'm just not sure...

*Yep. Great skin-crawling. But that means it was effective, so that's a + in my opinion.
**If that made any sense...
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Resa I thought the plot line was lame. The book was good, but only because Werlin is a master story teller.


Misty I'm not sure I'm actually going to read it, but I wanted to remember it, so I marked it. We'll see. Sometimes I can forgive a bad story if the author is good enough.


Resa I also have that tendency, but then I go into a tangent about how plot lines are important, and just because someone can write does not mean the description of a pile of poop should win the Pulitzer Prize. I feel that that is an example of authors abusing their abilities to write.
Have you ever read The Road? That is one example of a novel that blew me away without tying me in a plot. So it is possible, but I have not read too many.
What is your stance?


Misty I think that it may be a sign of the times. Authors don't necessarily get to write what they want to write it, so sometimes when they write a story that they're publisher wants, they aren't passionate about it. Their talent will show through, but the work doesn't go in. Of course, I could be wrong...
I need to read The Road, I've had it too long, and I like dystopic fiction.


message 5: by Heather (new) - added it

Heather I bought this one a few months ago...I've heard good and bad so good to know you like it! that gives me hope!


Misty I had issues with some things, but then some things were done really well. But it was interesting, and I cared what happened and felt a little bit of tension and curiosity about how it would end -- and that's rare for me. I'm normally pretty sure how things will go, but Werlin was realistic and occasionally negative enough that I still had some doubts about what would happen, and I enjoyed that. Hope you like it.


message 7: by Heather (new) - added it

Heather I bought it just for the cover! I'm lame like that. I'm planning on getting to it here in the next few months. Thanks for the mini review.


Misty A full one's coming. And I'm lame like that, too. I bought it for the cover (the red one in the wheat field), but I would also like to own the blue swirly cover.


Resa I did not enjoy this as much as you did. I really did not get into the whole idea that she had to follow the song in order to break the curse. It was really unrealistic.


Misty Willing suspension of disbelief, my friend. It was a fairy tale retelling, what did you expect? It's funny, because you said you didn't like the plot but like Werlin as a writer, and for me it was the opposite. I didn't dislike her, but the issues I had were in the writing, not the plot. (for the most part)


message 11: by Resa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Resa haha, wow. So I completely missed (or forgot) that it was a retold fairytale. Which one?
I am interested, what about the writing frazzled you?


Misty It's a retelling of the Scarbarough Fair ballad (popularized by Simon and Garfunkel, but much older). I just felt that is was at times a little clunky and youngish, but it got better as it went along. I didn't dislike the writing necessarily, but I would have liked a little more finesse.


Misty I knew it was from a play I did as a kid, but before that, I had no idea. When I read my lines for the play and saw the ballad, I was like, 'Really? Simon and Garfunkel?' ;p


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