Ruby's Reviews > Chime

Chime by Franny Billingsley
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Dec 16, 2010

liked it
Read from January 04 to 07, 2011

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Chime tells the story of Briony Larkin who, as she tells us, a witch. She insists on her witchiness and her evilness so much that it's almost impossible not to suspect it. I was a little confused at first whether the paranormal aspect of this book was real. I couldn't be sure that the town's belief in the Old Ones and witches wasn't superstition. I don't know if the author meant it to be that way, but that question in my mind served to help paint Briony as an unreliable narrator. What we don't know is just how wrong Briony is--that's the journey Chime takes us on.
Chime is a slow starter. I was excited when it showed up in my mailbox, but when I started reading it, it took me some time to get into the story. I think that's because, though Briony is the narrator of this story, she is largely detached from events until about two-thirds of the way through the book. That was when I began devouring pages. The last third of the novel is compelling, tense and enjoyable. I loved it. I'm just not sure I would have made it that far into the book if I hadn't been obliged to keep reading.
I don't want you to think that I found the first two thirds a complete chore. I exactly didn't have a problem with it. In fact, I marked a few lines that I particularly liked. I just think the set up took too long. The language and tone of Briony's narration is well-crafted. I enjoyed Rose's constant use of the word "prefer". I liked the bastardized Latin that Briony and Eldric used. Especially "Briony's fistibus." Those little details provided a few silent chuckles. Plus, Eldric is a lovely character. He's irreverent, kind, funny and, thus, a perfect foil for Briony. Billingsley takes a trifle too long to set Briony up as a sympathetic character, and to hint at the twist at the end of the novel. I'd rather have spent more time exploring the relationship between Briony and Rose or, even better, Briony and her father. The latter had meaty potential but ended up as side dish. A cold side dish.
By far, though, my biggest complaint with this book is Leanne. Briony and Eldric's love story is sweet, touching and, in one particular scene, sexy. The major stumbling blocks in their relationship have to do with Briony's secrets--what they are and the fact that she locks herself up tight in order to keep them. Briony's self-hatred only makes things worse. To add a love triangle on top of that is insult to injury, and I say that as someone who usually enjoys love triangles. Going into the details about Leanne would be giving something away. I understood her function, but I think she could have performed it just as well as a love interest for someone besides Eldric.
Finally, though I've said that the last third of Chime was my favorite, I have to add that I felt cheated out of the penultimate scene between Briony and her father. Whatever resolution there is between them happens off-screen, which sucks. I wanted to hear Briony's father's story from him and not from Briony as she relates it as part of the post-climax denouement. Luckily, the book ends on the final scene between Briony and Eldric, which is really, really satisfying. Especially given everything that the characters have been through. When you pick up Chime in March, I hope you'll give it a try despite the slow beginning. There is a lot to enjoy in this novel, including some clever dialog, some darling characters and a good, solid love story.
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