I love when reading a middle grade feels like hanging out with real kids. I love when middle grade is funny and heartfelt and earnest and exciting. This one ticked all the boxes for me. I didn’t miss that this is the second book by Rebecca Stead that I loved, and I noticed after reading that Wendy Mass is the author of a book my oldest son loved and read twice. I guess that’s going on my to-read list! This book would be appropriate for pretty much any kid old enough to listen to a novel.
The fandom for this one is super devoted, and I can see why. It’s well written, mysterious, and full of colorful characters with weird names. Blue, the female main character, is a non-psychic in a family of psychics (reminds me of my friend Christine Amsden’s series a bit), but when she’s around, she enhances their abilities. She has been told she’ll one day kill her true love with a kiss. One day she sees a boy named Gansey on a specific road at a specific time, meaning he will die in the next year. She doesn’t usually see anything, so the fact she does probably means either he’s her true love or she’ll kill him, which . . . yeah. Intriguing. When she meets Gansey in person and finds him insufferably arrogant, it turns into a fun enemies-to-lovers story with a deadly twist. Or so I thought.
Actually, Blue starts falling for a different kid in Gansey’s group of friends, and I really like that romance a lot, and I’m not sure how I feel about the whole love triangle with Gansey thing, and the intriguing vision at the beginning doesn’t pan out in this book, so that was kind of annoying, and maybe I’ll read more of these but maybe not.
A new member of my writing group read the first chapter of my second book and said it reminded her of Magonia, so of course I had to read it. And yeah, in terms of voice and style and all that, it was eerily like reading my own writing. At the same time, it needed help in terms of plot. Hm. Actually, so does my second book. So.
The story is about a teenage girl who has severe difficulties breathing. Her lungs don’t work right or even look right, and no one knows why. She’ll probably die of it someday. Then she starts seeing a ship, like a sailing ship, in the sky. Meanwhile, she’s got a best friend who is becoming more than that. He’s delightful. Anyway, she turns out to be a Magonian (magical sky people) who’s been lost on Earth for years, and she has a Magical Destiny, and all that. And if she lives where she can breathe and be her best self, it means leaving New Adorable Boyfriend behind. At times the book dragged or felt directionless, but I did like the ending.
2.5 stars: It was somewhere between okay and good.
To be fair, the book had to be returned to the library before I finished. I think I was 2/3 through. There were things I liked about it (the premise and the mythology mainly), but I didn’t quite feel as if the author had zeroed in enough on the character or the plot. It’s hard to say for sure since I didn’t finish reading, and if I hadn’t run out of time I probably would have. But since I now need to put it back on hold to read the rest, I find I don’t care enough to. Many people find this book a lot of fun. It’s been compared to Percy Jackson, only with Hindu mythology instead of Greek. (Spoiler for a few weeks from now: I didn’t like Percy Jackson either. In fact, I liked it much less than Aru Shah.)
I was raving about this book up until about the midpoint. It was such a strange, intriguing setting, and I was dying to know where the story was going. I loved the way the story was slowly revealed in a beautiful voice. And then . . . the main character made the wrong decision, which I should have expected, and things went wrong, but not exactly all the way wrong, and for the rest of the book there was this vague sense of unease but not really more than that because things went mostly how she wanted them to. And then at the end she waited way too long to make the right choice, only now I’m not sure it’s the right choice, I’m not sure what the author is trying to say, and none of my questions have been answered. I think it’s about growing up, but that makes me feel even more confused. So.