Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pause, Rewind

This has become way too complicated. Why did I even do this in the first place?

One: I love pretty books. I buy books based entirely on their cover. I can't bring myself to spend money on something ugly; I'm that shallow. And sometimes I don't even know what they're about, I just know they're pretty. And I love dresses on covers. I usually hate having models on the cover--like the paperback Goose Girl is just awful--but dresses...oh. Dresses.

Two: I once bought a book because of the pretty cover without reading the back and I quickly realized what an awful book it would be. From page one, it was utterly predictable. And in a fury I realized why can't you judge a book by its cover?

So I thought--Boom. I'll prove it. But that was an impassioned plan and it has failed. Mostly, I got tired of being wrong.

Stupid, misleading cover art.

So now I think I'll just combine two of my favorite things: judging and ranting. I shall become a connoisseur of books where I'm first concerned with presentation (it matters) but ultimately attached to its actual value. I'll still judge every book before I read it. That will mostly consist of me fawning over the pretty cover, but I'll also find something to say about how I think it might be. My assumptions, expectations, etc. We'll just see if my passion for pretty things gets me into trouble. As it usually does.

As for the verdict, that will be the review part. But it will mostly be me screaming over poor advertising. I'll refer specifically to the cover and how the book itself failed to live up to it. How it isn't nearly as good as the cover would lead you to believe.

Again with the stupid, misleading cover art.

But maybe one of these times it will actually match up. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe I'll even be happily fulfilled. But I doubt it. Because, ever since I started this, it hasn't happened once. Just one disappointment after another. It just goes to show you, mom was right: you can't judge a book by its cover.

Doesn't mean I won't try.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Verdict, No. 3

Play Off
It was everything it said it would be: a magical romance set in the modern world. And everything worked out just as promised: a (freaky) pregnancy, a friend-turned-lover (is it a spoiler to say they really did get married? Not since it happened pretty much immediately), and a devilish villain who just turned super creepy.

I don't know if I should take the credit for being so dead-on, seeing as it practically explained it all on the cover--but I will. Because, as predicted, it was about the characters. It was introspective for all of them and what was happening with the plot didn't matter so much as their reactions and opinions. And that really was what made it an enjoyable read.

The plot was crazy; if it was stripped down to mere rising and falling action, it would be way too much magic to appreciate. The characters were its saving grace. They felt real and likable enough to want to root for them. So even for all its predictability, it still felt refreshing and even, just a little bit, realistic.  

Final Score
Predictability: It told you everything but it save the heart of it (the characters) for the reader to get absorbed in. The risk of spilling the beans paid off, and the story was both original and fun with the characters both realistic and romantic.
Power: It was her ability to characterize that stole the show. Everyone felt real without being cliche or stereotypical, or too extreme in their originality. They were mostly people you would expect to be friends, and they all made sense together so you could care. Which was nice and maybe unexpected for a YA novel about magic.
Proposal: I'd recommend it to any fans of the song, any fans of strong characters, any fans of subtle magic, any fans of romance or light (very light) thrillers. I'd pretty much recommend it to anyone who wasn't looking to take things too seriously. This is a book you're meant to disappear into, not obsess seriously over.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Verdict, No. 2

Play Off
I was very much off. I should just leave it at that to spare my ego. But I won't.

First, it wasn't serious at all--it tried to be comedic and clever. There was actually a lack of melodrama and passion with the focus all on these eccentric sisters and their "witty" jokes. And there was far too much magic in it, like the freaky kind where everything happens at once and it's utter nonsense for the last few chapters before everything manages to return to normal. 

The romance? Well, she was expected to marry without a choice as to whom. And she was unhappy with that. And she did fall in love with someone almost unsuitable, but that was a side story to her other sisters' love interests. Really, her man was adorable, but as with most YA, there seems to be no real chemistry--it just had to happen that way for the plot. But that would have been forgivable had there been any sort of...romantic moment. I'm pretty sure she just curtsied. Yeah.

The villain was looking for revenge. And it was dark. And he did expect something in return. And he definitely abuses the girls' naivety. And he did try to kiss the main girl. But then it just got weird. And my vague guess can't be considered correct because it was just...crazy.

Final Score
Predictability: Besides the fact that the cover through me off--way off--once you got into the book, it was so predictable. I knew what was going to happen before any of the characters did. And most of them had no reason to do what they did, only that they were meant to do it. Because that was the plot. 
Power: Her dialogue is her strong suit. The characters felt real, even if they were cliche. It felt like something I'd read before, even if the plot took a what-the-crap-this-is-way-too-weird turn.  
Proposal: If you enjoy a softer (read: boring) romance with a gentle (read: dry) plot, go ahead. It's definitely for a younger set, or those who worshipped The Goose Girl. I mean, it wasn't bad...it just wasn't all that good either. 

Judgment, No. 3

Pictorial Evidence
It's gripping, intriguing, unexpected. And it almost doesn't make sense--sleeveless in the Alps? I don't think so. But the title is Impossible, so...

But even for all the chilliness, it seems warm. Like it will be a good book to curl up with, escape into. I'm kind of excited. It has to be magical, with a swirly title like that and the girl just standing in the wind, just waiting for something. Something inevitable. I suspect drama and romance fraught with some inescapable fate. And hopefully the writing is as refreshing as the cover art.

Cover Story
We know it's about the song, "Scarborough Fair" which is all about love and tests and impossible tasks. So the question is, good or bad? Luckily, the author lets us know. Right on the cover. She actually seems to give the whole plot away: she's pregnant, she has three things to do or she'll go crazy, and she has a best friend who I'm sure will turn into such a great lover. And there's a creepy, devilish villain who has to be magical (hence the curse). 

So. The only question is what's so surprising inside, or so great about the writing, that she can afford to give the whole plot away? Because of course the main character will manage to complete all the tasks. That's just how YA works--there's a happy ending. And she'll fall in love with her best friend who will probably have some issues with her being pregnant (unless he's the reason she is...but if it's a curse, maybe the pregnancy just happens) but come around in the end. After all, this book keeps touting true love and all, so he's probably the key to her succeeding. Who knows, maybe they'll get married--seeing as she has a kid and all.

Closing Statement
The giving-everything-away ploy seems to be working: I actually can't wait to read it, to see how it all works out. It's almost like Werlin knew the plot was too predictable and cheesy to worry about making it the heart of the novel, which means the characters must be. And I love that. I already love that, even though we know what happens, something must make it an exciting journey regardless. Maybe it's a risk and maybe it won't pay off, but I think it will be an intriguing read nonetheless, with magic in the background and relationships at the forefront. 

Cool beans.