Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Bewitching

by Alex Flinn
Series: The Kendra Chronicles #2
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by HarperTeen
Age Recommendation: Young Adult

Summary (from Goodreads):
Bewitching can be a beast. . . .

Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.

I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.

You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.

I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.

Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start . . . bewitching.

For the most part, I loved Bewitching, but there were some aspects that felt out of place. For example, the structure of the story is very odd. The book starts with a prologue, Kendra's story, which is more or less a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Then it moves to the main story, Lisette and Emma, in which Kendra is a secondary charcter. At the end of every part, though, Kendra interjects her own thoughts and speaks directly to the reader about the situation, which inevitable leads her to mention some other story. Then Lisette and Emma's story pauses so that the reader can spend two chapters looking in on some other tale, such as the Princess and the Pea or The Little Mermaid, in which Kendra is also a secondary character. Then, the reader is hauled back to Lisette and Emma. Overall, this format is a little awkward and, although I like these side-stories, I wish they weren't included.

Lisette and Emma's story, the main narrative, is based on Cinderella, but told from the point of view of Cinderella's stepsister, who takes a while to see the truth about her horrible and manipulative stepsister.

Emma was a girl after my own heart. I loved her and totally connected with her, and even though she a bit of a weak character at the beginning, I was rooting for her the whole time. Flinn certainly knew her audience, or else is very similar to her audience, because, as a reader, I am immediately drawn to characters who want nothing more than to curl up with a book.

I was a little frustrated that it took Emma so long to realize the truth about Lisette. It was so very heavily hinted at so many times that it began to get ridiculous that she couldn't come to the right conclusion. She was so overly trusting and forgiving. These are generally traits I like in a character, but not in Emma. It was just too much. And then, to top it all off, she was kind of a wimp about it. I know she's not confrontational, but she has no backbone whatsoever - she won't even stand up to her mom, who is trying to help her.

And Warner, the boy who has a crush on Emma? So. Perfect. Reading the chapters about Emma and Warner was like seeing all my fantasies splayed out on the page. He's not everyone's perfect love interest - he's shy, and a little geeky - but he was perfect for Emma, and reading about it was wonderful for me.

(The above paragraph I actually wrote before I finished the book, so... even though there's a big twist at the end, I wanted to keep it in. I still like Warner, even though Emma doesn't.)

The other stories were nice, but they didn't stand out to me, and while I was reading them, I was impatient to get back to Emma. I liked them both, but they would have worked better in a book of short stories than as side stories in this book.

Kendra's story at the beginning I barely got through. I was not interested in the story, in Kendra, in any of it. I couldn't get invested in the characters or the situation. I understand it was necessary to give the backstory of where Kendra came from, but it was not interesting to me. Luckily, it was pretty short, and as soon as I got to the main story, I was able to fully dive in.

Louis's story was a little better, but still was not my favorite. I liked the clever adaptation of the Princess and the Pea story, but overall I cared more about getting back to Lisette and Emma than about the story itself. For one thing, the voice of the story seemed no different from Emma's, except that there weren't constant references to TV shows, clothing brands, and types of cars. I liked how it ultimately turned out, though.

Doria's story was by far my favorite side-story of the three. A retelling of The Little Mermaid in the setting of the Titanic, it was not only clever but was quite well executed. It was just the right length, it was interesting, and it ended in just the right way.

Overall Thoughts:
Looking back on it, my review seems pretty mixed. For the most part, my final impressions were positive, mostly because of the great main characters and the clever twisting of the fairy tales, one of Flinn's strength throughout her many works. The side-stories were less interesting to me, but I'd love to read a book of Kendra's adventures if the short stories were more even, rather than having a few short stories in the middle of a longer one.

P.S. I can't stand the cover at the beginning of this review, which is the cover on my copy. The girl looks so bored, and everything about her pose, her hair, her makeup is not quite right. It also looks like a stock paranormal romance. My strong dislike of the cover was one of the things that kept me from reading Bewitching for such a long time.  I like this cover that I found much better, although it seems there was some snafu and HarperCollins decided against the image.


Debz said...

I'm not a huge fan of Alex Flinn, but I've heard some good things about this book, so I think I just might have to pick it up soon! Wonderful review! (I'm not a big fan of the cover, either!)

Pica said...

Some of her books are not my favorites, but I enjoyed this more than the others. If you pick it up, I hope you enjoy it too!


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