Monday, May 26, 2014

ARC Review: Mouseheart - Lisa Fiedler

Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler
Series: Mouseheart #1
Genre: Middle Grade, animal fiction
Published on May 20, 2014
Published by Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 320
Read From: 5.12.14 - 5.14.14

Hopper is an ordinary pet shop mouse - until he escapes. Soon he finds himself deep within the untamed Brooklyn transit tunnels and in Atlantia, a glorious utopian rat civilization. 
But all is not as it seems. Hopper misses the siblings she lost in the escape. Atlantia is constantly threatened by rebels who wish to bring the city to its knees. And there are cats everywhere, cats who leave the citizens unharmed. . . .and no one can seem to answer why. 
Soon Hopper is caught in the crosshairs of an epic battle, and as the clashes rage, Hopper learns terrible, extraordinary secrets. Deadly secrets about Atlantia. Painful secrets about his friends. 
And one powerful secret about himself.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? It's a very creepy little cover, and quite fitting of the book. It's not The Thickety creepy, but it is a creepy little book.

Characters: Hopper is an easy enough protagonist to like. He cares about his siblings, even the one who doesn't deserve it, and he always tries to act selflessly. And of course, he's an adorable little mouse, so how can one not like him? The one thing that did make me frustrated with Hopper was his naivete. He constantly trusts the wrong rats when he so obviously shouldn't. His blind trust causes him to make a lot of bad decisions, and it was just a little frustrating. Hopper's sister, Pinkie, was a little monster who probably would have no qualms stabbing her brother in the back - literally - if it got her what she wanted. Zucker, the rat prince, was extremely likable, despite his rather annoying accent. He was fighting for what was right and did his best to protect Hopper. He wasn't really the most convincing "loyal son," but this book does suffer from characters who don't notice the obvious. Firren, the rebel girl rat, was awesome. She was tough and could fight and didn't have an attitude like Pinkie. The villains weren't especially intimidating. Titus, the rat king, was mostly pathetic, and the cats . . . . were cats.

The Romance: Zucker likes Firren, but the romance doesn't take up any time.

Plot: Hopper and his two siblings, Pinkie and Pup, are your typical pet shop mice. They live in a wire cage with several other mice and they have no idea what happened to their mother. One day she was there, and the next she was gone. Hopper is resigned to their easy, boring life - until the day the shop owner tries to sell them as feeders to a kid with a snake. In a daring escape, Hopper loses Pinkie and Pup, and finds himself all alone in an underground utopia for rats and other rodents beneath Brooklyn. He's taken under Prince Zucker's care and given the best. But something isn't right in Atlantia. There are far too many cats; cats that strangely don't attack any of the residents of Atlantia. And while Hopper is a guest at the royal palace, he feels more like a prisoner. Then he finds out about the Mus - a tribe of mice that threatens Atlantia's safety and all within it. Or so the emperor tells him. But Hopper can't ignore the fact that he looks an awful lot like a Mus. As the plot thickens, Hopper must choose sides, but it isn't easy to tell who is friend and who is foe. Okay, actually, it's really easy to tell who he should trust and who he should run away from. But Hopper is so massively naive that he, of course, trusts all the wrong rats. The plot was good, but it was also too obvious. The Reader knows exactly what's going on - or at least pretty near - and it's frustrating to be stuck with a protagonist who simply refuses to see what's right in front of him. So in that way it kind of felt like the plot dragged a bit; because the Reader knew what was going to happen, but the inevitable was delaying because Hopper was dense. In every other respect, though, the plot moves at a fast clip, with a myriad of characters and exciting fights. The world is a mix between Redwall and Warriors. It takes place in the human world, but the mice and rats all dress in medieval-like garments and carry swords like in Redwall. As much as I prefer animal fiction to take place in a different world from ours, it strangely worked in this novel.

Believability: Atlantia is one of the more believable dystopias I have ever read. There are secret police-like entities everywhere, making sure the citizens of Atlantia are saying the correct things about the emperor, there are camps where refugees are "reeducated" before they can be accepted into Atlantia, and there's a strict curfew. The camps is where the book really gets dark, and I can't say more without giving spoilers away. They're creepy, though.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. It wasn't anything special; neither bad nor exceedingly good. Some of the accents - Zucker's especially - were kind of annoying, but overall the writing style fit the intended age bracket.

Content: It's bloody. Cats get their eyes poked out in spouts of blood, rodents are torn to shreds, et cetera. It isn't The Thickety bloody, but it's gruesome at times. Maybe it's just me, but when animal characters are brutalizing each other, it makes it that much more gristly.

Conclusion: I want Pinkie to die, and that's all I'm going to say.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, ten-and-up, fans of Redwall and Warriors.

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