Friday, May 21, 2010


Brightly Woven - Alexandra Bracken
Genre: YA Fantasy
# of pages: 368 (hb)
Publisher: Egmont
Amelia's Age-Level Recommendation: targeted @ teenagers, but good for the 12+ group too
Brightly Woven @ Parental Book Reviews
My Thoughts
This review is going to be very atypical, mainly because of the weird combination of 1) not liking it, and 2) recommending it to others

Simply put, Brightly Woven was a disappointment. There's definitely a dichotomy between this book and my previous read, Eyes Like Stars, and so that probably has a lot to do with why I didn't like this book. For me at least, there is a middle ground between "good" and "bad" when it comes to taste, and while I didn't find this book bad, it wasn't good, either.

My reasons? the characters. North was fascinating, I will admit. He is hands down my favorite character in the book, and I loved his scenes. He was great. However, he wasn't believable in his role. A wizard who is completely direction impaired and who relies on the map-skills of a girl who's never left her own village? Yeah right. Sydelle - the story's feisty MC - rotated between being occasionally entertaining and heartfelt and being for the most part an annoying, whiny and incredibly stupid narrator. Now I'm not usually the "yeah, girls are macho, too!" type, but it's one thing to scream independence, and it's another to just be an idiot. She whines about North being unfair and not trusting her and so forth, yet when she goes off and tries to do something on her own, she shows serious lack of hindsight, judgment or rationality. That's "realistic" to a certain extent, but I deal with enough frustrating people in real life---I don't want to have to read about a stupid character, either. I know, I'm sounding harsh--I'm sorry! And another quick thing: North is all of 18 years old, and yet he says things like "when I was a boy" or "in my youth" or whatever and talks like he's so old. Yeah, you're a real full moon away from your AARP card, dude.
What I liked: I liked the gradual relationship development between Sydnelle and North. They had some very poignant, well-written scenes and I do credit Bracken for making Brightly Woven enjoyable (in parts).

With regards to the plot, I am seriously not sure what to think. Parts of it were exciting and parts of it dragged. Bracken's writing really aggravated me, and that's more the reason I didn't like this than anything else. Her writing just seemed off. If Brightly Woven was an amusement park ride, I'd say it would be a wooden roller coaster: it's fun and exciting at times, but the ride is very bumpy, rickety, and you wonder how in the world the coaster got a license to operate in the first place.
Her magic, too, is somewhat interesting, but severely underdeveloped. I think that BW could/should have been optioned as a series, because there is so much information that is touched on but never truly explained, I felt like I was wading through really shallow waters. Like "oohh, good idea, but not quite there yet."

To speak frankly, I was expecting way more. A college senior publishing a debut novel is pretty uncommon, and so I was expecting brilliancy on a Christopher Paolini level, and to be frank some more, I didn't get it. But it did have likable moments, and I have a sneaking suspicion that (thanks to the loads of other 4-and-5-star reviews out there) my review might just be the "odd one out." And so would I recommend it to others? Yeah, probably. There are no content restrictions or anything, I do need to salute Alexandra Bracken for presenting a clean read that could be read and enjoyed by multiple age levels (you might even find yourself thinking of a certain wizard named Howl---I sure did!).

Final Rating:This is a pretty good book - don't expect much out of it, like I did, and you'll probably enjoy it more, and don't put it at the tippy-top of your TBR list. Read Eyes Like Stars or something first!

9 shout-outs!:

Tales of Whimsy said...

Thank you for your honesty and frankness. Have a great weekend.

Christina T said...

Great review! I don't know if I will read this. It didn't really appeal to me when I read the description so we'll see. There are so many good debut novels out there that I've read this year (I usually don't read very many but I'm participating in the YA debut author challenge) that I think it sets the bar high. I hate though when a novel gets so much good buzz and then you read it and are disappointed. I felt that way about Mistwood and really regret buying it. Of course libraries would not likely purchase it for me to borrow since it is an unknown author.

Thank you for writing such an honest and concise review. It could be that it was just that you are reading this after Eyes Like Stars (like eating a hamburger after having filet mignon) but it is equally likely that you have caught on to some major flaws. Maybe I should read this book just to see what I think of it myself! Only if I can get it from the library :)

Amelia said...

Exactly, Christina. I think EYES LIKE STARS had a lot to do with it. I wouldn't discourage you from reading it - it has some good parts - but maybe don't bump it to the very top :D

Adriana said...

Aw, I'm sad to hear you didn't like it. You do have some pretty good points though.I'm actually hoping there's a sequel to this book because I loved it.
I tried reading Eyes Like Stars, but couldn't fully get into it, so I gave up on it. I suppose I should try giving it a second chance now.

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

Great review Amelia :) I've done that a ton of times, dislike a book but would still rec it. I'm going to read this one anyways, I think (if I can find time!) I could do with some more doses of fantasy. North is a lovely name too

Amber Skye said...

I've heard amazing things about this book. I'm surprised to see that you didn't like it that much. Sometimes I recommend books that I didn't like, too. Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean that no one else will, you know?

emily said...

Um...interesting review. The hype for the book was pretty big, actually.

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

I loved that we felt the same way about BW in our reviews! :)

I recommend books that I don't like all the time (mostly because even though I didn't like it, I enjoyed reading it).

I'm still chuckling about your AARP comment. <3 I felt the same way: I always envisioned North as 25+ instead of 18 with the way he was going on about how many years he had on Sydelle.

We differ on the romance, though. While I admit that I did enjoy it (and was happy it occurred at a slow pace), my... intense dislike for Sydelle totally ruined the romantic aspect.

Anyway, thanks for the review! I really prefer reading honest reviews as opposed to reviews that are hyped up based on what the general consensus thinks. You made my night too. <3 :)

Ashley @ Bookaholics Anonymous said...

I liked reading this review. I have found quite a few blogs and even fansites for this book and it has a lot of hype. At first when I read what it was about I was like I'm not sure I'd like that. then I thought if it has so much hype people I should give a try and see for myself. thanks for the honest review.

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