Synopsis from Goodreads.
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
>Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Loved the story, loved the characters but I wasn’t a fan of the style.
Liesl. Po. Bundle. Will. Magic. The Other Side. The Living Side. Hats. Big ears. Trains. Alchemy. Attics. Accidents. Sketches. Illustrations. Ineffable.
This I the first book written by Ms Oliver that I’ve read and, I have to admit, that I was warned against her.
Notnotnot because Ms Oliver is a bad writer and her books are awful and she hates kittens but because my friend knew that I wasn’t a fan of this kind of writing style.
Over the past few months of reading YA, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more likely to give up on a book because the writing style annoys me than if the character (although, AFPs are another story) or the plot does and I was so close to giving this one up or at least having a long break where I would sit and look at its cover, stroking it occasionally. Luckily, I didn’t because like I mentioned in my high points I loved the story and I loved the characters.
I just found the descriptions so distracting. Normally, when writers use long, sprawling descriptions of the smallest things it’s because they don’t really have a story to work with and they’re just spinning it out.
But Ms Oliver has a story and it’s a great one and it’s such a shame because based on that alone, this could have been one of my favourite reads of 2011.
It just wasn’t working for me and while I don’t want to jump head first into cliché land… this kind of style is like that yeast-based sandwich spread that we all love to have opinions on.
(If you’re wondering, I hate it. Even that pink champagne one they brought out… eeerrgh)
Also, it’s unfair that Bundle doesn’t come and visit me on occasion to cuddle me and mwark in my ear.
Stop hogging it, Liesl!
Cast of Characters.
I was going to create a heroine section but I kind of liked these characters altogether. I think they connected really well together and, even though Liesl held them together, I still thought of them as one.
I had some problems with the consistency of Po’s character, but I won’t go into it because they’re only minor quibbles.
My favourite character was probably Bundle and I’m glad that it turned out to be that.
The above picture is what I am planning on writing to Ms Acedera about and requesting her to paint it on the wall in my bedroom that I have picked out. (Right next to the wall where I’ll be asking Mr Kay to recreate every single picture from AMC. I am determined to make my bedroom look like a children’s book and I will succeed, gosh darn it!)
Anyway, these pictures were absolutely glorious and were perfectly paired with Ms Oliver’s dreamy/magical prose. I loved the almost smudgy finish they had and they reminded me of when I was in primary school and used to ‘shade’ by licking my finger and rubbing at my drawings.
I probably don’t need to tell you that mine didn’t end up looking like these ones..
But they really fit in with Oliver’s descriptions of the world and how everything had that bit of mysterious blur about them.
I know that this is actually about a dog, but I still think it’s an extremely beautiful song that fits perfectly with the dream-like tone of the book.
8/10. While I was skimming over other people’s reviews before reading this I kept noticing people mentioning the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book.
So when I picked up my book, I had a nosy and was a bit confused because, well, my copy didn’t have one. It was only when I got the end that I realised the UK version had placed the author’s note at the end.
(I wonder if there was a particular reason why it was placed at the end?)
Anyway, I really liked what Ms Oliver had to say about the book and the personal reasons as to why she wrote this story. The world, the characters and the plot were given a lot more context that I had seemingly missed when I was reading it.
I especially loved this part:
“Actually, it is the opposite of an escape; it is a way back in, a way to enter and make sense of a world that occasionally seems harsh and terrible and mystifying.”
Because isn’t that just beautiful?
So even though I wasn’t completely enamoured with the way they were presented, I was really taken aback by not only the idea, the raw and realistic emotions, but also the sentiment behind it. And I believe that Ms Oliver did a stellar job at portraying all of this.
People who want a beautiful story with a wonderful cast of characters…but people who don’t mind, in my opinion, overly-constructed prose. People who have ever wondered what it’s like to hug a ghost. People who have always wondered what they could put in that box they bought from Shared Earth but haven’t used it yet. People who are always in the need of a hat. Secret sippers.
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