Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review: Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone - Dene Low

Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low
Series: The Entomology Tales of Augustus T. Percival #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, satire, comedy
Published on June 1, 2009
Published by HMH Books
Pages: 208
Read From: 10.18.12 - 10.19.12
Final Rating: 4/5 strawberries

You would think Petronella's sixteenth birthday would be cause for celebration. After all, fashionable friends are arriving at her country estate near London, teas are being served, and her coming out party promises to be a resplendent affair. Everything is falling nicely into place until suddenly - it isn't. For Petronella discovers that her guardian, Uncle Augustus T. Percival, has developed a most unVictorian compulsion: He must eat bugs. Worse still, because he is her guardian, Uncle Augustus is to attend her soiree, and his current state will most definitely be an embarrassment. 
During the festivities when Petronella would much rather be sharing pleasantries with handsome Lord James Sinclair (swoon), important guests are disappearing, kidnapping notes are appearing, many of the clues are insects, and Uncle Augustus is surreptitiously devouring evidence. It's more than one sixteen-year-old girl should have to deal with. But, truth be told, there is far more yet to come. . . .


Cover Blurb: Not my absolute favorite; the title is what I got me to look at its synopsis, and then read it. It sounded too weird to pass up. The cover is kind of charming, but it doesn’t do anything for me.

What I Liked: Petronella is a very amusing, witty, sarcastic narrator; she was terrific. The other characters were all very good “supporting cast.” This book reminded me of a combination of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place and A Series of Unfortunate Events: it had the time period and “plucky heroine” of the former, and the cynicism of the latter.

What I Disliked: This is a personal preference complaint, though I get the feeling that a lot of Readers agree with me. Namely, Uncle Augustus eating bugs. I’m not a squeamish person, and I think bugs are awesome. But eating them! The very idea makes my stomach turn. I was very, very careful to not eat anything while reading this book. At the same time, while this part of the story made me nauseous, I did also find it a little amusing because it was just so weird.

Believability: Lots of weird, inexplicable, and impossible things happen, but it’s a satire. At the same time, the Author actually had a lot of historical accurateness when it comes to social protocol; within reason for a satire.

Writing Style: It’s good - it fits the time period well enough and is quite amusing. And to the Author’s credit, she didn't describe Uncle Augustus eating bugs; just mentioned it, which I cannot thank her enough for. Had she described it, I couldn't have taken it.

Content: None. Some people have said that this story was astonishingly insulting towards Columbians and Panama natives, but I failed to see it.

Conclusion: I’m glad this book has sequels, because I still have several questions (unfortunately, the sequels are impossible to find, so I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to continue Petronella’s adventures). As a whole, I did enjoy this story. It was oddly funny, and I got over the bug eating fairly quickly. The characters are great, and the little episodes of weirdness so bizarre that I couldn't help laughing.

Recommended Audience: Snicketeers might enjoy this one; something about the style reminded me of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Fans of historical fiction satire, and Readers who are looking for a very quick, and rather odd, story. Girl-and-guy read, any age.

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