Renee's Reviews > Impossible

Impossible by Nancy Werlin
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's review
Oct 13, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: ya, fantasy

** spoiler alert ** There are several reasons why this is getting three stars, but let me preempt telling you about them to say that the 150 pages or so leading up to the climax I really enjoyed...keep that in mind...a good 150 pages. And out of a novel that is 371 pages long, that really isn't bad at all. I did have three issues with this though:

1. The first half of this book is a bit tedious. I have no idea how this happened, considering the novel is a retelling of the "Scarborough Fair" ballad. The action is as follows: A teenage girl is raped by a prom date possessed by a demonic elf, the same elf uses magic to insinuate himself into her family life, her own mother is crazy because of this same elf and follows her around pushing a homeless shopping cart, she learns that she must complete the tasks listed in the ballad or suffer the same fate as her mother, and somehow...the plot still...plods...along.

2. None of the young characters act their age. Lucy, Zach, and Sarah (Lucy's best friend)all have an insane level of maturity. I could understand a single teenage character with the maturity level of a thirty year-old, but three? Zach in particular is a character who I wanted to shake and scream, "Dear lord child! You're only 19/20! What do you mean you want to get married, take care of her baby that isn't yours, and (this really killed me) use your college savings to get the new family a place?!" Ahem.

3. When the climax of the novel finally arrived, it was over quickly and was very anticlimactic. Then the resolution was very fast, neat, and tidy...quite frankly a bit too neat and tidy.

It really is too bad that these things hung on the book and dragged it down, because Werlin is not a bad author. There were three positive points to counter the negative:

1. Her writing style is not "dumbed down" at all. In fact, it was refreshing to see a young adult novelist writing something for teens that did not include the gratuitous use of words such as "like" and "whatever." *Note - I haven't read too many YA books lately that were dumbed down...but one was enough...I won't get into it here though.

2. Her dialogue isn't stilted or forced, which is something that you find often in adult and young adult fiction...dialogue is just hard to write naturally, and kudos to her for pulling it off.

3. The plot itself is a unique and interesting concept. I've always enjoyed the ballad, and wondered about its origins.

Since she was a National Book Award finalist as well as the winner of the Edgar award, I'm also willing to say that the problems I had with the book came down to personal taste. Clearly, quite a few people didn't have these issues with this or her other books. I suppose the only test would be to read another of her books...


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