Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

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Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

This book was a cute Middle Grade read, but not one of my favorites. It was fun and had some really good parts, I just don’t think it was the best fit for me.

The story itself was pretty good. It followed the basic plot outlines left by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, but added many of it’s own elements that definitely set it apart from other fairy tales and retellings.

It was interesting to see how fairy tale magic was woven into a modern day setting. I just wish that they’d been more intertwined, but instead they felt really distant. There was the real world, and there was the magical world (which still felt mostly like the real world). They felt kind of awkwardly placed next to each other instead of magically flowing into each other. Maybe that was intentional to add distinction, but I wasn’t a big fan of that.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Hazel, either, who was a classic Middle Grade heroine. She made some really illogical decisions (as children tend to do), didn’t think to consult anyone else as she made plans that would most likely get her killed, kidnapped, or otherwise in danger, and wound up with an all too happily ever after.

The writing was really good for the most part, but there would be moments where it started to overflow with cheesy messages. I have no problem with cheesy messages, especially in Middle Grade books, but prefer to have them slipped in more subtly.

I think it definitely has appeal, though. My younger sister who’s the perfect audience for this book loved it to pieces. So while it fell short of my expectations, It’s still a good book that has lots of potential.

stars

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