Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: Triple Ripple

by Brigid Lowry
Age Recommendation: Young Adult (on the younger side)
Paperback, 252 pages
Published November 28th 2011 by Allen & Unwin
Series: none

Summary (from Goodreads)
Combining fairytale with a modern girl's story, this story skillfully weaves together three tales and reveals the magic of the writer's creative journey.

The Writer begins with a sparkly good idea for a fabulous fairytale. A girl called Glory is sent to work in the Royal Palace, where the queen is planning a grand ball and a bad-tempered princess is sorting through jewels and tiaras. And, unknown to Glory, the threads of her destiny are coming together. Meanwhile, Nova is reading the fairytale—they are not usually her thing, but right now she's feeling a bit messy and lost. Her best friend has gone away and bitchy Dylan is hassling her. Still, Nova is curious to find out why Glory's mother is scrabbling under the bed for an old magic book. Can the Writer make everything turn out happily ever after? Will the princess find true love? Will Glory escape a secret curse? And can Nova smooth out the lumps and bumps in her life?

My Review
Triple Ripple was very difficult to start. In the first few pages, I had to keep reminding myself that it had to get better. It must be this bad in the beginning on purpose, and it was all part of a larger plot to show character growth on the part of the writer that the story gets better. Well, it does get better, but for the most part my first impression was correct; although there were some good bits, overall it was nothing wonderful. The the writer section was unusual but good,  fairytale was fun but not well-written, and the reader section was well done and a good read, but not developed enough.

The Writer
I liked the writer’s section because it focused a lot on small moments in everyday life. A good example of this was the first line of the book: “The writer lives in a house of many teapots.” That is such a great image, and it does give quite an insight into the writer's character. In fact, I think I know the writer better than any of the other characters, even though she is never named or described. I liked reading about the actual writing process less, because the writer seemed to be so wrapped up in and invested in a not-very-good fairytale.

An example of a “The Writer” section:
“The writer wonders if anyone will ever read this thing, and who they will be. If only createivity wasn’t so random. Sometimes it flows like a river, sometimes it tumbles like a fountain, then for no apparent reason it dries up to the odd drip from a broken tap. Broken tap days are hard. She wanders around a park, eats a very rich Florentine she’s been saving for such an occasion, draws a picture in seven shades of blue. Then she begins to write.”

The Fairytale
The fariytale bit was fun but a little bit silly and not well written; I didn’t really care what happened but I liked it as an intermediary between the writer and the reader. Also, I was districted by modern phrases mixed with overly formal fantasy-type writing. Additionally, the story took place in generic once-upon-a-time land, and was kind of a generic once-upon-a-time story. Actually, while I was reading, I was consciously thinking, this is really badly written. The characters were shallow and cliched, and the plot was nothing special. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed, but it worked as part of the larger story, and although it was not that "good," I didn't dislike it - it was a lot like reading the story of someone just beginning to write, almost like a longer version of what I'd read from my middle school creative writing class.

The Reader
I really liked the reader’s story but it didn’t feel developed enough, probably because the reader was less than a third of the book. Also, immediately it seemed overly obvious the parallels between the story and the reader’s life, but after the beginning, the story seemed to drift off in its own way. I couldn't see how the reader's life was connected to the other two stories, and she didn't seem affected by her reading the book. Yes, it is mentioned, but it is not more than a minor detail in her life. I liked the idea of Nova's story, but it seemed to need a short story or a book of its own. It didn't really fit with the rest of the book. Also, in the reader’s story there is a little cursing, which I didn’t mind personally but seemed out of place in an otherwise light book, and some Australian (?) slang, which I mostly skipped over.

The Format
The chapters in Triple Ripple are very short, which works for the style, but is a little disconcerting at first when one seems to be constantly switching between different stories. Each chapter had a relatively longish fantasy section (usually about 5-10 pgs), short author section (usually about a page, sometimes less), medium length reader section (usually about 3-5 pages), and then back to fantasy.

There was one part about ¾ through the book where the writer seemed to be rewriting the reader’s story, which really confused me. At first I didn’t get what was happening and I thought Brigid Lowry had made a mistake and accidentally written the same section two different ways (which I have seen before, but not for more than a few lines).

Also, the writer, reader, and story are all in different fonts to go with the different writing styles, which I liked because it separated the stories, but in some parts it made them feel so disconnected that I almost felt like I was reading three short stories at the same time.

Overall Thoughts: My opinion of the book is very similar to my opinion of the cover: some elements were good, some were less so, but put together it didn't quite fit. Overall, I thought it was good, but nothing special. I liked the idea, but I think if it had gone through a couple more drafts it could have been a lot better.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Triple Ripple in exchange for an honest review.

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