Saturday, August 01, 2009

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Finished!!! My first official book for my Reading In Order Challenge. If you recall, I tried to read Yevgeny Zamyatin's We a while back, and somehow I managed to lose it. I'm sure it'll show up one day, but for now it's probably under the bed or buried in my car. I decided to move on to the next author in my pile: Jane Yolen.

Briar Rose is part of Terri Windling's larger fairy tale series, and Yolen's offering may be the most recognizable of those novels by various authors. I like this book overall because it's a new interpretation of "Sleeping Beauty" that I've never read before. Never have I seen any fairy tale retellings that situate the characters amidst the Holocaust, but if you happen to have read others, please let me know!

We'll start with the good stuff:

  • An interesting new take on an old tale.
  • Yolen seems to have done a great deal of research into a little known, or little talked about, extermination camp in Chelmno.
  • Her main character, Becca, was likeable if a little "goody goody" for my taste.

The not-so-good stuff:

  • This book seemed very dated. While it's a very universal story, I thought Yolen could've handled some bits much better.
  • This book suffers from a case of weird marketing. I've always seen it marketed at young adults, but it reads very much like a novel for adults.
  • While it was an emotional story, I didn't think the emotion came across in the writing so well. It seemed dull at times when it should've shined.

I wish I could say more about this one, but I took entirely too long reading it. I set it aside, picked it back up, set it aside some more, and finally took the time to finish it over the last couple of days. While it was a worthwhile read, and I would say it was good, it didn't blow my socks off. I know I'm probably in the minority in not absolutely loving it, but alas, sometimes that's the case.

The next book in my Reading in Order stack is Richard Wright's Native Son. It's a big one, so it might take me a while, but I've wanted to read it for years, so we'll see how it goes!

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