Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: Storybound - Marissa Burt

Storybound by Marissa Burt
Series: Storybound #1
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on April 3, 2012
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 416
Read From: 5.15.13 - 5.16.13

When Una Fairchild stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, she thinks nothing of opening the cover and diving in. But instead of paging through a regular novel, Una suddenly finds herself Written In to the land of Story - a world filled with Heroes and Villains and fairy-tale characters. 

But not everything in Story is as magical as it seems. Una must figure out why she has been Written In - and fast - before anyone else discovers her secret. Together with her new friend Peter and a talking cat named Sam, Una digs deep into Story's shadowy past. She quickly realizes that she is tied to the world in ways she never could have imagined - and it might be up to her to save it.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I love the pretty silver filigree and the pretty tree all decked out in candles. The character impersonators are even perfectly all right because I can't see their faces at all! The cover is exciting and magical and promises a great adventure.

Characters: I liked that Una, the protagonist, is adventurous, curious, and asks all the right questions. But at times, she displayed a few minor symptoms of The Attitude, of which Peter was at the receiving end, and the poor kid didn't deserve to be snapped at. Una didn't get huffy or pouty or anything like that, but she would sometimes be too quick to take things personally, and assume that people were objecting to her pursuing something simply because she was a girl. But the Author seemed to forget about this aspect of her character after about 100 pages, and Una's quick temper disappears almost entirely. Peter was a nice enough kid, though he didn't really make all that much of an impression on me in terms of personality. He was a good guide to Story for Una, but I wish he hadn't been so hesitant to tell Una things that were desperately important. Sam the talking cat wasn't in Storybound much, but like all talking cat characters, he was adorable. Why are talking cats so cute? I would love to know what it is about them that makes them so unbelievably awesome. Snow was a fun snotty girl to dislike, but I can tell that in Story's End she will end up making peace with Una and become surprisingly helpful, though she will always retain something of the snob in her. And just because Snow has a sob story, doesn't excuse her treatment of Una. Because this is a kids' book, the villains are pretty transparent and not all that terrifying. But they suited the story well enough.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: Una never knew her parents. She has been in the foster system all her life, and while her current guardian isn't cruel or harsh, she's also completely indifferent. So Una has lived a lonely existence, with no companions at school, her only friends to be found are in books. When Una finds an old book down in her school's library basement, she has no idea that it's going to transport her to the world of Story - where the characters of books live out normal day-to-day lives, and attend schools where they learn what sort of literary character they will grow up to become - a Hero, a Villain, Sidekick or Lady - and the required skills. Peter is right in the middle of taking his practical exam to become a Hero, when Una shows up and ruins everything. Worse still, Una has been Written In - something that hasn't happened since the Muses of Story broke their vows to protect the characters and massacred millions. If the Talekeepers of Story find out about Una, they might kill her. It's up to Peter to keep Una hidden while they try to figure out who Wrote her In, and more importantly - why. But the more they learn, the more Peter and Una come to realize that the Talekeepers haven't been telling the truth about the Muses, the terrible massacre, or anything at all. First off, let me just say that I loved the concept of the world of Story. While nothing as spectacular as Inkheart, it was a really fun place to explore and learn about. This is definitely a more plot-driven than character-driven story, which seems rather ironic, since it takes place in a world where literary characters live. Setting that aside, the plot is pretty entertaining. Of course, as soon as doubt is cast on the Talekeepers and what they've been teaching about the Muses, I automatically knew that the Muses weren't evil and did all of those horrible things. It, in fact, kind of got annoying how long it took Peter and Una to figure it out. Why else would the Tale Master forbid the common people from reading the Old Tales? Why else would he be hunting down and destroying the Muse books? If it's meant as a twist, then it is an extremely poorly disguised one. I would have spotted it at any age. But I had such fun exploring Story itself that I didn't mind too much the simplistic plot.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I have always been a bigger fan of first person narrations, but I have nothing against third person, and I'm certainly happy that it isn't in present tense. I could have wished for a bit more of a magical touch to the style for a world like Story. Part of what makes Cornelia Funke's worlds so enchanting is her way with words - her ability to weave beautiful pictures with her writing. Storybound isn't like that, but it also isn't downright horrible - not even close. It is enjoyable and great for the intended age of the audience, and I was able to fill in Story where the writing was unable.

Content: None.

Conclusion: While the truth about the Muses was no shocker, Una's identity and importance to the world of Story most certainly was. I didn't see it coming because it was very well hidden twist. And considering the sort of twist it was - one that has been done hundreds of time - the Author was right to so thoroughly conceal it. At times, the climax was a bit convoluted. A character would appear, only to disappear a split second later, and later reappear in a random location. But niggling questions are answered, while a few are still left dangling for an exciting sequel. The one little niggle that bothered me was: why has Una forgotten about the strange hooded boy that was in the library before she disappeared into Story? Storybound was pretty much what I expected: a fun kids' book with relatively likable characters and an awesome world. It was a great, fast read; one that I don't regret reading at all.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eight-to-thirteen, fans of Cornelia Funke and other Inkheart-like books.

Others in This Series:
2)Story's End

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