Thursday, March 2, 2017
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
I think I'm in trouble. This is easily the most perplexing book I've read since I've started this. It's left me flabbergasted, it really has! Still, I will do my utmost to give my honest opinions and share them as best I can. Let's just get right into this.
The story is of Elisabeth, or Liesl, Volger who lives with her family in a tiny village in Bavaria. All her life, she's kept to the shadows, envious of her sister's beauty and her brothers musical talent. But then her sister is abducted by goblins and dragged away to their secret kingdom: the Underground. Liesl must do everything she can to save her sister, even if it means making a deal with the beautiful and mysterious Der Erlkönig, or Goblin King, and release the inner music that she's kept hidden from the world.
Okay, does this sound even the teeniest, tiniest familiar to anyone? Yeah, it should. No beating around the bush: this is a self insert Labyrinth fan fiction. And don't try to tell me it isn't. Not only is the Goblin King word-for-word David Bowie's character from the film, but there's also hallucinogenic peaches, hands that form a face, constantly referring to the Underground as a labyrinth, heck the word Underground is taken from the movie's end credit song, I could go on. I get that fan fiction has kind of moved past it's bad reputation and are being taken more seriously among readers and the publishing industry alike, but this is just silly! It's so blatant and unrepentant that I'm surprised nobody's really said anything about it!
Now, there is good stuff in this story. It's described very well, the setups of the setting and characters is very good, the reasons for the Goblin King's existence is very clever. There is legitimately good things about this book. There's a lot to like, but also a lot of things wrong with it as well. Here's the weird part: this book has flaws, major ones, but for some reason....it doesn't bother me! The writing style is not very good, repeating phrases over and over and can come off as ridiculously pretentious...but it doesn't bother me. The story is told in the first person of a main character who is so painfully insecure it's alarming...but it doesn't bother me! It's silly and stupid at times but, for whatever reason, I didn't get mad at this book like I have other ones where I encounter these problems. I guess the big reason behind that is that I've read Labyrinth fan fictions before so I know what a bad Labyrinth fan fiction reads like...and this isn't one of them.
Is there just enough good things in the story to make up for the bad ones? Debatable. But I guess the thing is that, while these are really big flaws there's nothing particularly harmful about them. Aside maybe from the squicky relationship between our main leads and the unusually intense "love" scenes for a YA novel, the book isn't promoting abuse or teaching anything bad to readers. It's just kinda silly. It's kind of like the book equivalent to Moulin Rouge, plot and characters are unrealistic and silly but there's nothing it that's morally incorrect or anything. It's like poetry that I don't get but can appreciate that it is, indeed poetry. (and this book really, really wants to be poetry) Now I don't know anything about Ms. Jae-Jones' life, but it just feels like that kid in Band class who wrote music that nobody appreciated or understood the genius of and wrote themselves into their favorite 80's movie. And that's okay!
One more thing and them I'm done, I promise. This book talks a crap ton about music and musical references, mostly classical, in this story. Now writing about music is nothing new but there's a bit of a problem when reading about it in this form. The reader can't hear what's not there! It talks on and on about these fantastic musical pieces that, if you're not musically inclined and know what the author is talking about, it leaves us out. I feel this thing should come with a soundtrack or something that the reader can listen to and appreciate, otherwise your just going on and on about how fantastic and beautiful and revolutionary this music that we can't hear is. Just something to think about for future writers.
I don't have guilty pleasure books...but I think I just found one. Lots of style, lots of romance, lots of angst, lots of questionable writing and yet I still ate up every word of this book. It wasn't like Need where I read it as often as possible just to be done with the wretched thing, I read it as often as I could because it was genuinely hard to put down. I know, a really up and down review but, ultimately, if this sounds like something that's up your alley, go ahead and check it out. But wait for it on paperback.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. You can also look me up at goodreads.com to see what's coming up and recommend your favorite books to be reviewed here. I hope to see you there.
Next Time: Some people collect stamps, some buttons, some coins. These guys collect catalysts.