Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Novel Review: Lost Voices

Lost Voices (Lost Voices, #1)
Lost Voices by Sarah Porter- I am glad I read it but I thought it would have turned out much different. I was left feeling… empty, as if part of the plot was missing. I actually had to reread multiple sections to see if I missed something. First off, I was not happy to see military (Coasty) ships attacked, being a mil spouse, but they can’t all be cruise liners.

The general idea is that girls, and only girls, who are abused, in number of various ways and degrees, turn into liquid in order to reach the sea ultimately turning into mermaids. These mermaids are sirens luring ships to destruction effectively killing the evil adults who if they had not, would perpetrate horrors the girls lived through. There was a good twist with snobbish, fashion-needy girls changing the culture of the otherwise primitive, easy going group.

On a much deeper level, the angst between the “queen” and our heroine was excellently built: the truth hidden, needing to be exposed, to suffer due to survivor’s guilt from doing “the right thing” which ultimately turned out horrible, and therefore be liberated from the guilt when fully usurped. Ultimately, it is the story of humanity, holding on to it despite continual, sometimes horrible odds and how each girl interprets the opportunities and peer pressure. So, perhaps, being an adult, the peer pressure and need to strike out on one’s own, by her own rules, went right over my head.  What I did not miss was how the girls who survived the human monsters and abuse had become so embittered that they became monsters themselves, murdering similarly innocent people but they made sure there was no salvation, no second chance for sailors in order to keep the mermaids existence hidden.

Except for one, a boy. I did catch all the questions, the undercurrents of why boys, even abused, could not become mermaids. I however missed the explanation. Perhaps it is pre-pubescence innocence. Much easier to study humanity when it is not mucked up by relationships.  I would have liked to have this during those awkward, questioning years to help debate which peer groups I should stay with, which path I should take, and that it is ok to go off on my own, all alone.

Novel Review: Thornspell

Thornspell By Helen Lowe- Loved it. It’s a twist on the Sleeping Beauty/Aurora story but from the boy’s point of view. He happened to be born at a time to make him come of age first as the spell grows to full term. It’s as simple as that. He is sent away to a remote “castle” after his mother mysteriously dies. There is a curse on the father’s side, numerous generations have been weeded out. The fairies we know of who cast the wicked spell and try to change it from death to sleep are far more dangerous, conniving, loyal and dedicated. Not to mention, apparently these fairy folk, which are not from this realm, are in the bloodline of two of the strongest families who rule two of the strongest kingdoms, which make them the perfect victims. And the ultimate reason the spell involves Aurora and Sigismund.

I couldn’t help thinking back to the Disney version of this story and seeing in this novel the explanations and twists and turns the led to what we see in Disney’s movie. But this book and its strong characters are so much more. There are no weak characters, no needy characters. All have faults and weaknesses, but strength is drawn or shared from allies. Even Aurora is strong enough of mind to break out within her enchanted sleep to help (Prince) Sigismund on his enlightening journey through truth, reality, magic, and power. The difference is she must do it without speaking, without being seen, or the gig is up and the evil one will know that she is more alive than dead. The puzzle to save her is so involved and yet any one of us could solve it if it took place in our own lives. Special abilities, tools, and powerful friends help, but it is the intellect, the ability to remember a story, a quote, and the importance in the drive to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry,” even far after the fact of the matter, that bring the enlightenment needed in trying times.

Excellent book. Excellent for boys, especially, and girls alike. This is not a novel where adults refuse to listen to “kids,” where experiences cannot be shared and discussed. The turmoil is not built on misinformation or lack of communication but in the how the politics of the land play out, in attempts at various methods to solve a jigsaw and understanding how the pieces fit. There are no victims in this book, except for the initial spell. I was very much impressed with the weaving of the tale and how seamlessly the plot points fit together across generations and around the world. I kept thinking, “ah, that make’s sense” just as the character did. I would read this again, it was that good. And, I did not foresee every twist and turn!

Novel Review: A Tale of Two Castles

A Tale of Two Castles
 A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine- A girl must strike out on her own, leaving her farming family behind, voyaging to find apprenticeship in the far away city of Two Castles. One castle houses a horrible king, who trips up servants forcing them to apologize for what (he!) they had done, and he of course pardons them to seem a kindly king, and an ogre, who is far more kind and friendly than his ghastly parents, but no one cares or believes and so keep cats who can control the mind of ogres. Along the way she meets a shady goodwife, befriends a princess,  is stolen from by a cat, learns the ogre isn’t half bad, and eats toasted cheese and skewered meat ala dragon fire.  Elodie wants to be an actress, and is excellent at her parts. However, she is refused by the best house and ends up taking up shop with the resident dragon, who happens to be a clean freak but is kind and feeds her well. Someone is after the ogre and the dragon and Elodie must find out who and how before it is too late using indicative and deductive logic, natural to dragons.

This is a novel where intellect and observation is key. No lazy minds need apply, but there are no tricks for the reader. We know as soon as Elodie knows. She goes undercover as a lowly maid in the kitchen to gain access to Ogre Jonty Um castle. The castle servants are surprisingly supportive despite the surrounding citizenry’s disgust for the ogre. A number of people end up poisoned, including Elodie-almost. Suffice it to say the apple does not fall far from the tree. Some of the random, shady characters from the beginning are finally explained. All loose ends are tied up with no questions. This was very good, not surprised she is a Newbery Honor Author. I can’t wait to jump into her other novels, like Elle Enchanted and The Wish!