Category Archives: Young Adult

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Standards…

Standard

RapunzelPhotobucket
This is the second retelling of Rapunzel I’ve read, and unfortunately, I just felt that it did not do the story justice. This is a dark story – an evil witch, or in this case an evil sorceress, steals a baby, and locks her in a tower cut off from the world. When she chances to find happiness anyway, that is snatched away as well… and then only by luck is there a happy ending. For all its darkness though, this story read like a Wikipedia summary. There was no feeling of danger, or fear, and the “terrifying” evil sorceress was about as scary as vanilla ice cream. I don’t think even children in the age group this is aimed at would find her scary if this was read to them… probably only if they saw her picture.

I did find it terrifying in a different, disturbing way, though. The story, being rewritten for such a young audience (ages 4-7), feels like all of the substance of the story was removed. There’s no personality. The evil sorceress is just the ugly lady who stole a baby and locked her away in a tower to punish her parents for petty theft. Rapunzel has no personality at all, is barely even a character in the story, despite being the TITLE character. She has one line, and that’s it. But she’s described as being the most beautiful girl under the sun, so who needs personality when you have your looks? They’re the only thing of value a girl has anyway, right fashion industry?

Not only is that message incredibly disturbing, but after Rapunzel is cast out, and her beloved falls from the tower and is blinded, and then Rapunzel and the prince meet again for their Happy Ever After, we hear no more about the evil sorceress… does she live, die, stay in the tower in Rapunzel’s place as other versions suggest? Is there NO punishment for the stealing and imprisonment of a child? Are children just supposed to think this is OK?

I know that this is a fairytale, but this is also a retelling aimed at young, impressionable children. And this one was very disappointing. The more I think about it, the less I like it.

The only things I DID like about this were 1)the choice to place the story in an African village setting, rather than having yet another beautiful, blonde haired white girl as the main character; and 2) the collage style artwork, which I thought was great.

So two generously given stars for this blase retelling.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Standard

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenPhotobucket
This book was nothing at all like I expected it to be. I’ll admit that I thought it was going to be a kind of ‘carnival-freak’ book, where all the weirdness is exploited and glamorized into something sexy and cool, but it wasn’t like that at all. And I’m very glad that it wasn’t.

Read the rest of this entry

Review: The Vampire’s Warden by S.J. Wright

Standard

Photobucket

23 year old Sarah Brightman has been running the family B&B alone since her father died of cancer three months prior. Just as Sarah is starting to get used to her heavy load of responsibility she is told that her mother – who she thought had died 14 years ago – is alive. And that her father had left her a journal with details that she needed to know. Five minutes after this bombshell is dropped on Sarah, she finds a wounded young man on her property.

This young man is Alex and he was sent by Sarah’s mother to help her – because she was the new Vampire Warden. The Vampire Warden maintains a sacred plot of land that allows vampires to rest in peace without threat…and it is also a prison. No vampire can enter or leave without the Vampire Warden’s permission.

The Vampire’s Warden has an interesting and different take on vampire stories. There are quite a few issues that I had with this novella but it was a very…readable book at the same time. While there were quite a few times I put the book down and had to force myself to pick it up again; I also found myself reading large amounts very quickly.

The beginning of the book starts in a very clunky manner – both with the writing and with the plot. There’s a great deal of random info dumping without really giving any clear information about the backgrounds of the characters or the conflict.

Sarah has just learned that her mother is alive after 14 years of believing her dead…and that is the exact moment that Alex appears at her home. Before Sarah ever speaks to Alex she has some strange reaction to touching him: she falls into some trance or something and begins to see visions.

“My chest tightened and hazy haunting images rose up before me. These figures were pure pain, a collection of tortured, hopeless souls.”
–page 15

This type of unwieldy writing is very present in the beginning of the novella but as the book goes on the author catches her stride and it smooths out quite a bit.

The reason why Sarah sees visions when she touches Alex or why Alex was found hurt outside her home is never explained.

I found it a huge leap and an eye-rolling experience to read that little “coincidence.” Her father has been dead for 3 months…why is everything happening now?

Alex tells Sarah that he was sent to her by her mother before she ever cracks open the journal left to her by her father…at which time Sarah throws a hissy fit and stomps off. Sarah does this quite often, actually; she’s quite good at it. Sarah is left a journal that explains everything…but she runs off to demand answers from Alex before really reading the damn thing – only to stomp off again as soon as she hears something she doesn’t want to hear. The really funny part about Sarah’s hissy fits is that she gets over them rather quickly and then adapts to whatever the situation is. Alex shows up, tells her he was sent by her dead mom but no other background info – so Sarah takes him at his word and gives him a job. *face palm*

The author set up a lot of plot strings that she left dangling…but not in a “sequel” kind of way. The characters also felt very flat and unreachable. I didn’t really care about any of them because I had no real emotional connection to them.

The only character that was really interesting was Michael – and his part was small(er) and shrouded in mystery. There was a lot of mystery surrounding Michael:

    – What did Michael do to get imprisoned?
    – What’s with the connection between Sarah and Michael?
    – How does Michael get such fabulous and oh so very vampire-like changes of clothes? Michael is first described as wearing black jeans and a v-neck t-shirt the first time we meet him. Jeans didn’t start to become common till the ’50s and even then they were thought to be rebellious (except as work clothes). Jeans didn’t start to be worn regularly until the late 1960s. Every time Michael’s clothes were mentioned I would think… “How does he get changes of clothes and how the hell does he have black jeans when he’s been stuck in a meadow in the country since 1947??”

Speaking of mystery, there are a ton of questions that were left unanswered – the book ends abruptly in what seems to be the middle of the story arc. The disappointing part about that is the author was just catching her stride and the story was getting much more interesting.

I know that that this is a series but I doubt I’ll pick it up. I smell a love triangle coming and that’s not my thing.

All in all – it’s a decent (very) short read if you’re into YA angsty vampire stories and you can ignore the items I mentioned above.

2 ½ Stars!

Note: I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program