Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mini review set Gaiman & Zevin style

3 stars because of creepiness. 5 stars for awesomeness.
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

My thoughts:
Okay what did I just read? I *think* I liked it? Maybe? Perhaps I loved it? I know it creeped me out. A lot. But it was also brilliant in the usual Gaiman way and I was entranced the whole time, terrified or not. I also listened to it, in his voice. Mhm. I'd like to give it four stars, but I can't quite do it right now. Very…mind bending and interesting. It's 'childhood' in the form of a book. I didn't know that was possible.

5 stars
Summary: On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming.

My review: 
I went into this pretty blind; all I remember when adding this is ooh a book about a bookstore and a cool cover! I haven't liked any of Zevin's young adult books, but I was sure this book would be awesome, and it was. It is sentimental, but not over the top, and hit all the right heartstrings. And it's about a bookstore and bookish people with bookish references all over the place, so really how can any bibliophile not like it? Reading it was like the author was in my head, describing things as I do, and I could probably read this book again right now, and still enjoy it as much as the first. It's a fantastic piece of work; the dialogue is sharp and the people are flawed. Prepare to be delighted when you read about Island Books, and its quirky short-story-loving owner who finds love and community on Alice Island for a second time later in his life. I highly recommend. 

No comments:

Post a Comment