Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review - WONDROUS STRANGE


Wondrous Strange - Lesley Livingston
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
# of pages: 321 (pb)
Amelia's Age-Level Recommendation: 13+
My Thoughts: Did a little something uncharacteristic in that I read two very similar books back-to-back - The Iron King and then Wondrous Strange (both being YA modern-faerie-tale stories). I'm glad I did, though! Truth be told, TIK had me in a little bit of a funk, and I was holding out for a hero to rescue me from bad faerie books (okay, so TIK wasn't "bad" - it just was "flat okay")

And let me tell you - Lesley Livingston is a hero! A hero and a wonderfully creative storyteller, too! This book was so fun, so enjoyable, such a delight to read! I love writing happy, positive reviews! It makes me not sound like a harpy :)

Wondrous Strange, to me, offered a very clever, very interesting amount of mythology and folklore to explain the faerie world. This is particularly interesting because the entire story takes place in New York City - the "Otherworld," as it is known, is only referenced.
There's something in particular that I found really neat: So often in faerie fiction, you hear the same things over and over: Seelie/Unseelie, Winter & Summer Courts. Well, those concepts are all here, but Livingston brings more to the table by having 4 courts: yes, Autumn and Spring are represented too! That was really cool. And the Midsummer monarchs: Titania and Auberon (instead of Oberon--cool!) are here as well, but they're not near as stereotypical. In fact, Titania is only referenced, and Auberon is portrayed in a way that makes sense with his character background.
This may sound redundant (because it is a FAERIE book), but in WS I actually liked the portrayal of the faeries. What I look for are not necessarily cute, adorable little J.M. Barrie/Tinkerbell fairies... but I do look for faeries that make sense for what they're portrayed to be. For example, if fairies are so magical/wonderful/beautiful/immortal/exotic, that should reflect in their culture and behavior. I don't want to get off-track here, but the easy way to write faerie fiction (it seems) has been to portray them as raunchy and too over-the-top... Not so here. Faeries aren't perfect - by any means - but they're not overdone.
Girls, you will *love* Lesley Livingston's writing style! It's just so beautiful, lyrical, and incredibly witty. Seriously, there were a few passages and quotes that made me laugh out loud!
Also, I loved that Livingston chose to tell Wondrous Strange using double perspectives. Sometimes seeing things from the point of view of the "normal girl character" can be a bit limiting, so it was really cool to read Sonny's perspective and be able to have a window into the faerie world through him.
And last but not least: the main character. I liked Kelley Winslow a lot. She's smart, spunky, and capable, but she's also able to let somebody else take the lead, too - a very good quality to have in a well-rounded and mature person. And she graduated early - very cool (I liked that little bit because I graduated early too!).

If you are a fan of faerie fiction, Shakespearean-influenced literature, or just a fun, entertaining summer read, definitely check out Wondrous Strange!

Final Grade:
I have Darklight, but I want to make the series last as long as I can! Wondrous Strange #3 won't be published until January 2011!

6 shout-outs!:

Dazzling Mage said...

Woohoo! I'm determined to read this, because a critical friend of mine said it was really good. But I was still holding my breath while reading your review, because I trust your judgment as well, but I'm so GLAD you liked it! Awesome review, and can't wait to read it!

Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

Great review! You must have really enjoyed the book and never ever feel bad about recommending a book that you truly enjoy :)

Sarah said...

Awesome! I have this book on my to-read pile, but haven't gotten around to reading it. I feel like a lot of faerie novels out have incredibly similar blurbs. They all sound the same so I have been reluctant to read! I will place a hold on this at the library and try it out! Great Review!

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I loved this book. So much fun, great adventure and fabulous humor. Thanks for a wonderful review!

Christina T said...

Fantastic review! I am so glad you liked this one. I will have to reread it again before I read Darklight.

titania86 said...

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while. I'm interested in the new courts and the portrayals of Titania and Auberon. Great review! My kitty sometimes sits on my books too, but he doesn't hiss when I try to move him. :)

 
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