Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: Towering

"At first, I merely saw his face, his hands on the window ledge. Then, his whole body as he swung himself through the window. Only I could not see what he swung on.

Until, one day, I told my dream self to look down. And it was then that I saw. He had climbed on a rope. I knew without asking that the rope had been one of my own tying."

Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her. 

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.
Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother . . . until now.  Quoted from Goodreads


To be frank, I didn't like it as well as Tangled. I mean, isn't that basically want everyone wants to know?  I realize Disney probably shouldn't set the bar for fairy tale adaptions, but it kind of does.  That doesn't mean there isn't room for a thousand other retellings.  I love seeing different takes on the classic stories.  But when you pick the same story as Disney, you have to know comparisons are inevitable, and while Towering was good, Tangled was better.

That doesn't mean you should dismiss the book, however. On the bright side, this absolutely isn't a modern retelling of Tangled.  The two stories are very, very different.  Different setting, villain, romance, etc.  so while I knew the basics (girl, tower, hair) I didn't actually know where this story would take me.

Still, it's a fun story.  Remember, it's a fairy tale, so you have to suspend your disbelief.  There's mystal insta-love, a mysterious drug that gives some people strength and long life, while enslaving others with no side benefits.  Most of all, there is a very specific destiny. Rachel's hair grows in response to this destiny.  When Wyatt comes, it grows long to give him a way into the tower and a way for Rachel to escape. When other things happen---aka, the mysterious bad person threatens them---it grows in warning and to help her. Even Dani's disappearance is connected to this grand destiny.

Like I said before, it's a fun story.  While Rachel's part is rather slow, I loved her POV. I enjoyed watching her get a cell phone for the first time or Wyatt giving her a letter that once belonged to her mother.  I also really enjoyed the way she spoke.  Her mother only gives her really old books, and her language reflected that, which I thought was fun. Wyatt is also a good character. He's suffering from something that happened to his friends (we're not told what, for a while), and he's trying to figure out what, if anything, matters anymore. Plus, there's a great air of mystery across the whole book, while these two, rather messed up people, try and figure out what happened to Rachel in the past, and what destiny has planned for their future.

Really, I only had a few problems with this.  First, the beginning is a bit slow.  While there is a great mystery, it took a long time for us to figure out what Rachel's role in the whole thing is.  Honestly, that's not really a bad thing, but I would have liked a tiny bit more direction before we got to the climax.  Second, and more much importantly, I was left with way to many unanswered questions.  I won't write them out in detail for fear of spoilers (though I really am tempted), but most of the mythology of the plot is left unanswered.  We're given this entire mystical set up, but we don't know any of the important details.  Several of the characters (including, in part, Rachel) I'm not even sure are human, but we don't get any type of answer as to what else they may be.  It's a great story, but it left way too many questions about what happened in the ending unanswered.

Still, if you're looking for a fun re-telling of Rapunzel, you need to check out Towering.  It's a very different, well-written take on the story, and you have to be impressed with Alex Flinn for even attempting a modern version because it's got to be one of the most difficult to convert. It's an interesting 3.5 stars for me (1/2 a star extra for being a fairy tale re-told).  So if you're looking for another fun fairy tale adaption, you should pick up Towering.

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