Friday, July 8, 2011

Perchance to Dream

by Lisa Mantchev
Start Date: 4 July 2011
End Date: 6 July 2011
Hardcover, 333 pages
Published May 25th 2010

Summary (from Goodreads):
Act Two, Scene One

Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.


But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—

Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?

Once again, LISA MANTCHEV has spun a tale like no other—full of romance, magic, adventure, and fairies, too—that readers won’t want to put down, even after the curtain has closed.

My Review:
I'm not really sure about my opinion of this book. When I was reading it, I was often totally lost and confused, but I never considered putting it down. The writing was humorous at some points and lyrical in others, and I loved all of the references to Shakespeare (and other some Classics, but mostly Shakespeare). However, four things about it bothered me, and though I sped through the story, they definitely made it less enjoyable.

My main issue with this book is that it was so incredibly hard to follow. It seemed to jump around with no particular reason, or even a transition. In the first third of the book, I was so lost that I could barely figure out what was going on, and in the second two thirds, I understood what was happening, but had no clue why. (The whole part where she and Ariel are in her play was so strange! I couldn't figure out why they were even there. Spoiler, highlight to view.) It was clear that Bertie's magic was messing with reality, but I felt that Mantchev never made it clear what was part of reality and what wasn't. (As another example, the puppet show. What the heck? Sure it was an inventive way to present the history of Bertie's parents, but I just didn't understand whether it was real, why it was happening, or how it worked.)

The second was how Bertie came to conclusions without giving the reader any sort of insight on her thought process. For example, fairly early on in the book, Bertie and Co. meet a scrimshander, who Bertie (it seemed to me) immediately realizes is her father(Spoiler, highlight to view). It also felt like by not thinking things through, she took a much more circuitous route to her goal, whether that may be finding her way back to the rest of the group, or following the scrimshander.

The third issue I had was that I didn't particularly like either of Bertie's love interests, Ariel or Nate. As other reviewers have mentioned, they seemed more interested in one-upping each other than of taking care of Bertie, and I felt like Mantchev didn't give all that many reasons why Bertie is falling in love with either one of them.

The fourth thing didn't bother me quite as much, but I felt like many of the more minor characters (as in, anyone not from Book 1) didn't get as much development as I would have liked. Wäschbar, for instance, obviously has a history, and there's something going on with him and the theater troupe, but it's never really made clear what it is. And what was going on between Bertie's father and Sedna? (Spoiler) I feel like that was never really explained, either.

Although I get that I'm criticizing Perchance to Dream quite a bit, I did really enjoy reading it. It was a lot of fun, and easy to pick up and read for a couple of hours. This also seems like a book I would enjoy reading with a friend, or in a book club, so that we could discuss every chapter or two as we got to it. Also, the way the book is written makes me think it would be a great movie. I think that would also get rid of most of my issues with it. I also want to note that although I was a little more critical, the vast majority of the reviews I read were extremely positive.

On a separate note, So Silver Bright, the third book in the Théâtre Illuminata trilogy, is coming out on September 13, and I will be reading it, if only for this amazing cover. I think it's the best cover of the three, although all the covers in the series are beautiful.
Click to enlarge, it's a really big picture
Here's the summary of the third book (from Goodreads):
All Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has ever wanted is a true family of her own. And she’s close to reuniting her parents when her father disappears. Now Bertie must deal with a vengeful sea goddess and a mysterious queen as she tries to keep her family – and the Theatre Illuminata – from crumbling. To complicate it all, Bertie is torn between her two loves, Ariel and Nate.

My thoughts:
Do these summaries feel slightly repetitive to anyone else? In every book, Bertie has the same overally goals - to find/ reunite her family, figure out who she really is, and choose between Nate and Ariel. Even still, the Thèâtre Illuminata books are always fun, and I am looking forward the the conclusion of the trilogy.

[UPDATE: I just realized that Bertie's dress on the third cover looks like a wedding dress! Not much use after the second book, but still....! Also, did anyone think the whole getting married thing was just a little bit strange? How old is Bertie, anyway? (Spoiler, highlight to view)]

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