Kathryn's Reviews > The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
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bookshelves: annie-and-katie-bookclub, fantasy-sci-fi, fairytales-folktales-mythology

I really feel like I am missing something--or, at least, whatever the agents, editors, and legions of Shannon Hale fans found so fabulous about this debut novel that launched her successful career, including two sequels to this book. Given all the fanfare about Hale, I was sorely disappointed in this novel. The premise is interesting, and the opening chapters are breathtaking. No doubt about it, Hale can write some gorgeous prose, and the story sparkled with possibilities. However, the characters and plot just didn't really develop, in my opinion. It's hard to say much without creating spoilers, so I will say only that I think that, in Hale's mind, Ani (the Goose Girl) developed and grew and changed and came into her own a lot more than was apparent to me. The secondary characters, for the most part, seemed one-dimensional. I was also disappointed in the seeming lack of use of Ani's ability to talk with geese, etc. I guess it just promised a lot, and every time I'd start a chapter I would think, oh, yes, here we go, NOW we are going to flesh out so-and-so character or NOW we are going to see the fruition of Plot Point A...but, no--instead we'd get some repetition of other points. Like a flower bud, there was all the potential but then it never really blossomed. Perhaps since this was Hale's debut novel, she has honed her skills--indeed, I would suspect so since she has since won the Newbery Honor Award. This just reminded me of a first draft of a talented author's novel--it's all clear in the author's head and she thinks she is developing the points well enough, or perhaps really wants to make one point clear and then focuses on that to the point of exhausting it to the detriment of other points. It's not a bad story--I enjoyed it well enough, but I found myself bored and frustrated more times than I was pleased and engrossed. Even so, I think Hale does have a way with words and I will look forward to reading one of her more recent works to enjoy what I imagine will be a more maturely developed story.

NOTE OF CAUTION: Although this story is very old-fashioned and seemingly innocent, parents and sensitive readers should be advised that there are a few passages that quite surprised me with their violence--one involving an animal killing and another a story that touches upon rape of village women. It's still a very PG-13 sort, but even so it seemed grossly out of place in this tale.
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Reading Progress

August 14, 2008 – Shelved
March 9, 2009 – Shelved as: annie-and-katie-bookclub
March 9, 2009 – Shelved as: fantasy-sci-fi
March 13, 2009 –
page 60
March 24, 2009 –
page 82
21.41% "oooh, it's starting to get exciting. Annie, I can't believe you were right about the "twist" :-)"
March 27, 2009 –
page 95
April 3, 2009 –
page 124
April 23, 2009 –
page 152
May 5, 2009 –
page 190
May 11, 2009 –
page 210
54.83% "Waaahh! I almost don't want to keep reading, it was such a sad chapter. I hope things improve soon."
May 14, 2009 –
page 240
May 22, 2009 –
page 350
91.38% "Okay, I'm sorry to say, but I'm getting a tad bit bored. Not fulfilling the promise of earlier chapters..."
Started Reading
May 28, 2009 – Shelved as: fairytales-folktales-mythology
May 28, 2009 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann Why does this sound so familiar?

Kathryn I think it was on some of those fantasy book recommendations from GoodReads, and it is also a novel/rewrite of a fairytale.

message 3: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann Ah, okay.

message 4: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann Great review, I totally agree! I love what you said about the story being developed "in her head" but just not really on the page. So what I was thinking! And how she was busy focusing on one element that another was set aside. You always put your reviews so neatly - thanks!

Anna I am listening to this audio book since some friends gave it 5 starts....I must admit I am baffled. I feel like I'm getting dragged through the prose which is so much thicker and contrived than it needs to be...anyway looks like I'll finish it anyway because enough of the elements interest me, but it has been rather frustrating. Your review echos what I've been feeling.

message 6: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann Chandra wrote: "I've enjoyed reading both of your reviews Ann and Kathryn! It was a long one, no?"

Thanks, Chandra!
And it was about... what, just under 400 pages? So, not *too* long, but still substantial. But, it did *take* us a long time to read it....

message 7: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann I'd be curious for your thoughts, Abigail. It does have tons of fans!

And yeah, Anna, that's how I felt. Like I was trudging through the text, but yet, still interested lol!!

Kathryn Anna, I am glad to hear from someone else who was not totally enthralled with the story. As you say, it's not BAD but it just isn't that engrossing and, yes, the "dragging through the prose" is a good way to put it!

Chandra and Abigail, I wouldn't rule out Shannon Hale altogether as, indeed, I do plan to revisit her works. She is definitely a notable author in the current YA "fantasy" market and I think that perhaps some of her later titles will reflect her growth as an author. However, I think you could probably skip this one in light of all the other five-star reads out there!

Ryne I'd disagree with that comment, but this is just a good illustration of how it's nice how we all have different tastes--there is no one objective standard for "goodness" that we'll all agree upon. I happen to think "The Goose Girl" is one of the best books I've ever read, though I also know that the novel was rejected by several, several publishers before Hale found one. So, I think we can both feel justified in our opinions.

It has been a while since I've read this, so now I need to go back and see how it holds up to my current tastes. For anyone who's never read it, though, I think they definitely need to give it a try.

message 10: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Westbrook I’m halfway through and was looking for the review that would convince me to stop reading. Thank you!! I agree with everything you said and am glad to see that there’s no reason to keep reading.

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