Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: Cloaked - Alex Flinn

Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Genre: YA, fairy tale retelling
Published on February 8, 2011
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 341
Read From: 9.21.12 - 9.26.12

I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all. It all started with a curse. And a frog-napping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission. 

There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys. 
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.


Cover Blurb: I really like the font she uses for her titles - I just like it, for some reason. However, I wish the cover gave more of an indication about the story itself. It's just a flower. And if it weren't for the font and the fact that I know this Author's books, there'd be nothing about the cover to catch my attention.

What I Liked: For all of Johnny's flaws (more on that later), it's kind of hard not to like him. He's one of those people that if I met him in real life, and someone asked me why I was friends with him, I'd say, "Because he's just a nice guy, and nice guys are always worth being friends with, even if they sometimes make stupid mistakes." That's exactly how Johnny is. There were lots of times in the story where Johnny did something stupid (again, more on that later), and just like with one of my guy friends, I shook my head sadly and said, "Johnny! You know better." And Meg is a total sweetheart; she shows great patience for when Johnny is being a brainless adolescent, and forgives him easier than I probably would. I liked how the Author incorporated the fairytales The Elves and the Shoemaker and The Valiant Little Tailor; it was cleverly done.

What I Disliked: I really did like Johnny, but the reason his stupid mistakes bothered me is because of this: in every fairytale, the hero will at one point or another receive very important instructions from a helpful person or animal or inanimate object. And under no circumstances should our hero deviate even a little bit from him instructions, no matter how tempted he is. Sometimes the helpful person or animal or inanimate object will even tell the hero in what manner the temptation will manifest itself. And of course the hero ends up forgetting or willfully ignoring the helpful individual's instructions, and something bad happens because of their own stupidity. The exact same thing happens to Johnny, and the reason it annoyed me is because in a fairytale retelling, I expect the Author to put a twist on this fairytale tradition, rather than copying it.

Believability: In Beastly and Bewitching, the magic fit into the modern world. I was able to say, Yeah, I'll buy that. Not so much with this one. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there was just something not quite as convincing about the things that happened; I couldn't picture it in the modern world.

Writing Style: This one was told in present-tense, which was new. And what was even newer was the fact that it didn't bother me! It's not because I'm getting used to present-tense, either; it just fit the story really well. However, I didn't feel that the fairytales in this story was retold in as clever a manner as in Beastly and Bewitching. In those two, the Author took fairytales we know very well and put new, original twists on them. Beauty was blind in Beastly; Cinderella was the brat and the stepsister was the one with the problems in Bewitching. Cloaked just felt like a fairytale retelling for a retelling's sake. She threw in fairytale after fairytale with no why behind it. Why were there suddenly giants in a Florida Keys national park? Where had they been hiding all this time? Her retelling of The Wild Swans didn't make much sense to the story's plot, and the whole thing with how Todd became Todd was another poor retelling of The Fisherman's Wife and The Golden Bird. As for the character accents - I won't say that they were badly done, but for some reason it just really annoyed me.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the story. I completely called all of the twists, they were that obvious, and I was completely disappointed that the villains got no comeuppance. That is what makes fairytales so satisfying - the villains always get what they deserve in the end! Cloaked isn't necessarily a waste of time, but compared to some of Alex Flinn's other books, it wasn't her best. It lacked in important areas.

Recommended Audience: Some Alex Flinn fans might not be as disappointed as I was, and Readers who know the lesser-known fairytales might appreciate the fact that the Author deviated from the traditional choices. Girl read, any age is fine.

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