Once again I’m getting another blog post out later than I intend to publish them. However, this time I have an excuse! I currently have exceptionally minimal access to the internet at home (in other words, I’m kind of stealing whatever our satellite picks up, so virtually no internet).
So, I’m currently your stereotypical writer typing to you from a coffee shop with free wifi. At least my latte is good.
This is also why I won’t, yet again, be talking about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I swear that post is coming. Just not today. This review was originally scheduled for tomorrow.
Anyway, today I’m reviewing a Children’s book. I’ve been meaning to read more children’t literature for awhile. I do read some, but I’m trying to make it part of my typical circulation. (So far, so good.) When I saw Holly Black’s name, I knew this would be a good read. I loved her other book The Darkest Part of the Forest, (click here to find out why) and this was another one of her stories that I was not disappointed with.
This story follows Zach, Alice, and Poppy as they find themselves on a quest to return a doll’s ghost (bones) to her owner in order to stop Poppy from being haunted. The trio sets out, Zach only half believing Poppy’s story and Alice not believing it at all. The three don’t realize how much work and how exhausting a quest can be when you have no money and no easy way to your destination. The group’s quest threatens to tear them apart forever, as each child is dealing with the impending changes that puberty and young adolescence is already thrusting upon them. Will they be able to survive their quest, the paranormal, and their friendship?
*click image to be redirected to book’s Goodreads page*
This story was wonderful and has increased my love for Holly Black even more. Where to even begin.
I’m going to start with the paranormal element, because that’s what I’m most excited about. I love that Black brings ghosts, or, I guess, really just one ghost, into this story and then refuses to reveal if the ghost is real or not. She leaves that part open to the reader’s interpretation. This is fantastic, because it perfectly sums up the argument of ghosts actually existing. We’ll never really have proof, will we? The concept is left entirely up to our own beliefs. Granted, children probably won’t be able to wrap their heads around this concept, but for my fellow adult readers, it definitely gives us something we can sink our teeth into and enjoy.
Now to get down to the business of the technical pieces. The writing in this story was wonderful. It was about middle-grade reading level, but the story was still woven marvelously. I didn’t mind at all that I could fly through the writing because it allowed me to guzzle the tale right down. The writing is perfect for both children and adults alike. I feel like I could have enjoyed this story just as much as I did if I were 12 years younger or older. That’s the mark of a good children’s story.
So, I’ve mentioned that I loved both the paranormal aspect of the story and the writing which both kind of hold everything into place like the frosting at the center of two cakes stacked together (I’m using that as a reference because this book was oh so delectably sweet). But, they would be missing an important ingredient without the characters. The characters were marvelous. They’re super diverse and are completely unique from each other. Black also captures perfectly the age of not quite but almost recognizing the attraction to the opposite sex. Her writing and these children’s thoughts made me remember what it was like when I was their age. She captured the discrepancies, fears, and excitement of moving on to the next stage in life.
I could go on and on about how much I love this book, but I’m going to try and contain myself to get this review wrapped up. One final thing I have to say (as I always have to when the topic presents itself) is that this is an incredibly feminist text, which makes me love it even more. It’s a wonderful book with marvelous ideas for young children. My favorite part is that Zach has and plays with dolls with Alice and Poppy, but he’s also on the school basketball team. I COULD SCREAM OUT OF JOY. Plus, Black doesn’t draw attention to this. She writes it as if it’s super normal (which, of course, it is!), and doesn’t shove the ideas down her readers’ necks. (This also helped me really connect with Zach, as I had the opposite thing going on as a child, since I was a girl. I loved playing with my barbies and dolls, but I also loved to blow shit up in video games and play sports. So, basically, he’s a really awesome character.)
That short rant was pointless, but I felt like it needed to be said, so, sorry about that tangent.
The other characters, Poppy and Alice, are also marvelous. I loved them all. I loved everything about them and their stories.
So, I guess what this all comes down to is, Read this book. I don’t care how old or young you are. READ THIS BOOK. I loved it. It’s fun, adventurous, and deals with many important issues in a lighthearted way. Everything felt real. This story made me so happy. Please read it if you get the chance.
Get your copy from Book Depository here for $9.09.
Up Tomorrow: Potentially I’m hoping to get around to my Scary Stories chat, but otherwise expect a review of Death Note, Vol. 2.