Anila's Reviews > Plain Kate

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
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Jul 14, 10

bookshelves: galleys-are-win, reviewed, teary-eyes, fangirl-alert, pre-college-summer-reread
Read in July, 2010

What can I say about Plain Kate that will get you to read it? Because that's what this really comes down to: I want YOU to read this fantastic little book. So, what do you want in your reading material today?
How about...
...an interesting setting reminiscent of (but not identical to) various Eastern European cultures? (Edit: After finding Erin Bow's website, I learned this was inspired by Russian folktales- but nothing about it felt particularly Russian to me, so I stand by this. I may be wrong. *shrug*)
...a Roma-like culture that is neither vilified nor glorified, but presented as people surviving and living life the only way they know?
...a heroine who is strong and confused at the same time, who struggles with her choices and makes mistakes, and whose problems fitting in resonate with pretty much anyone?
...a feline companion who behaves like a cat you might actually meet, and yet whose actions create some of the most poignant moments in the story?
...writing with a Robin McKinley-esque lyricality, but more straightforward?
...a creative, dramatic, beautiful fairytale-like story which doesn't seem to set up for a sequel at all?
...a YA novel without a love triangle- and for that matter, without a love interest at all, where the search for family precludes any possibility of smut?
...an 'antagonist' so honestly sympathetic that you end up genuinely liking him, despite his crimes?
...a page or so at the end that makes you cry?

If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, Plain Kate is for you. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's published by Scholastic, or that it's targeted at ages 12 and up; this is a book for preteens, teenagers, and yes, even for grownups. It reminded me of both Sabriel and The Blue Sword, which is a feat, but was never wholly similar to either book, and always held onto a wonderful uniqueness and freshness.

P.S. If anyone finds a way to get the cover in gigantic poster-form, let me know. This is one of the prettiest books to just look at that I've ever encountered.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Erin Bow Is it creepy and stalker-ish of me to reply to this...? I hope not.

Two things: You're right about the Eastern Europe thing. Whenever I had to look something up, I pretended it was the Polish/Lithuanian frontier in the 15 or 16th century.

And: if you get a poster, please send me one, too.


message 2: by Anila (last edited Jul 16, 2010 10:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anila Hah, not really!

Oh, good. Yeah, I did an English project based on both Russian and Roma cultures two years ago, and while I recognized a lot of the Roma things you included, nothing was particularly Russian. So yeah.

:D Sure!

By the way: I couldn't put too much of the 'why' in my review for fear of spoilers, but Taggle was just brilliant in his cat-ness and hands-down my favorite character.


Tatiana My two cents. I am Russian and have read many Russian fairy tales. To me, the most familiar aspect of the story was the Roamers - gypsies roaming Russian lands.


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