Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review - ANXIOUS HEARTS

Anxious Hearts - Tucker Shaw
Genre: YA Historical & Contemporary Romance
# of pages: 242 pages (hardback)
Publisher: Amulet
Amelia's Age Recommendation: 16+

My Thoughts
Okay. First, I want you all to know that I read this book IN ONE SITTING. That never happens. This book was so addictive, so encompassing that I literally could not put it down. I just had to find out what happened to the characters. That is an incredibly big deal for a reader like me - who is most of the time ruled by practicality - and so that counts toward the final rating.

This book is an expanded retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem "Evangeline" and I really do suggest you Google it before reading this book. Several times throughout the story I "gave it the benefit of the doubt" because I was familiar with the overall tone of urgency and devotion. The way this book is set up, you have two love stories that are told simultaneously through rotated chapters: the first one takes place in the mid-18th century in Acadia (note to Mr. Shaw: why in the world do you call it "Cadia?" You're missing an 'A') and is supposed to correlate to the poem; the second story is in the present, narrated by the main girl. I wasn't in love with the story's format: every other chapter switched perspectives/settings, regardless of what was going on in the plot, and so it made the transitions really choppy at times. The writing wasn't anything noteworthy, either. The stories blended really well, BUT they didn't follow a traditional literary structure - what I mean is, there was no climax and so you kind of feel like you're running around the pool 20 times.

This book is first and foremost a romance, and I commend Tucker Shaw for creating not one but two incredibly emotional and captivating stories. Like I said before, I was hooked from page 1. Now these two romances: Evangeline/Gabriel (past) and Eva/Gabe (present) are not supposed to be realistic, and so character actions are little contrived. And at the end... I totally cried. I told you - I'm a sucker! If you've read the poem... this story...is relatively faithful to the original ending. I'm not going to tell you which story - the 18th century one or the present one - I'm talking about, though. You'll have to read it for yourself!

However, I do feel the need to address some issues regarding content. I did a little "research" on goodreads and currently none of the other reviews mention what I'm about to disclose. I find that really shocking, because usually this kind of stuff is mentioned...but anyway. I mean what I said about the '16 or over' too.
So while the book was very riveting and engaging, it's organization was a bit lacking.

Quick Content Meter:
L: Maybe a few minor curse words spaced out - nothing particular stands out.
S: There is a sex scene pretty early in the story, and for a YA, it's pretty *graphic*
V: unless you count an idiotic teenager jumping off a cliff "violence," there really isn't anything noteworthy; a few 'heat of battle' scenes...

Final Rating: 4/5. I started out giving this a 3.5 because of the choppy transitions and the content, but then I bumped it up just because you know, I did enjoy this book. It gets props for capturing my COMPLETE attention from beginning to end. Bearing in mind the content issue (which I personally feel obligated to inform you all about) this was a good book and I recommend it to all over-16 year olds - the mature ones, that is.

5 shout-outs!:

Christina T said...

Hmm. This sounds intriguing. I don't think I've read Evangeline but I will make sure to do so before I read Anxious Hearts. I hate when transitions break up the story. I loved Incarceron (currently writing the review) and that was one minor problem I had with the book. At first we switched back and forth chapter to chapter but then the interchanges between character POV got to be really choppy and jarring. It is not unusual to find that in books that have multiple POVs though.

Fantastic review! I look forward to reading Anxious Hearts eventually. I don't plan to buy it so I will have to wait until I can order it on interlibrary loan.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

LOVE Longfellow. Great review :) I need to read this :)

lasrisas said...

This sounds great!

I found your blog through your comment on Angieville, where you said the last book that lingered with you was The Hollow Kingdom, which is one of my absolute favorites in the world and unlike anything I've ever read before.

I'll be coming back!

Amelia said...

hey, thank you!

The Book Owl said...

Lovely review! I wholeheartedly loved this book. I thought it was wonderful. And you're right, that one scene was fairly graphic for YA now that I think about it.

 
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