Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review: Towering (Flinn)

AUTHOR: Alex Flinn
SERIES: Kendra Chronicles, book 3
ISBN: 9780062024176
PAGES: 304
SOURCE: Edelweiss
GENRE: fairy tale retelling
SUMMARY: Told in alternating voices. After a tragedy rocks his world, seventeen-year old Wyatt moves to a frigid small town, where he encounters night visits from a ghost and hears strange singing on the wind. The singing ultimately leads him to find Rachel, a teen girl who's been locked in a tower for much of her life.

REVIEW: Sigh. I had such high hopes for this one. I loved Beastly and A Kiss in Time and liked Cloaked. I've heard great things about Bewitching, which I plan to read soon since it is part of next year's Lone Star Reading List. Rapunzel has always been my favorite fairy tale, so I was very excited about reading Towering. And that cover! Gorgeous!

Alternating voices is probably my favorite narrative style. The ghostly visits are creepy, and I love all the Wuthering Heights references. I loved how Rachel's mother's diary entries from 18 years ago were interwoven among Wyatt's and Rachel's voices. There is potential here, but the story as a whole just doesn't work.

The characters are flat. Wyatt never fears the ghost, and he never backs down from anything that a normal teen would find uncomfortable or scary or dangerous. There is no hesitation at all, ever. Rachel's reactions to the world around her and Wyatt's sudden appearance also ring false. She has not seen anyone other than her "mama" in many years, yet she is not at all afraid of Wyatt or the town she's never really seen. If she had gone into the tower when she was eight years old, why does she not remember telephones, TV, or cars? She doesn't even know they exist at all.

And then there is insta-love, which serves only to further flatten the characters. Romance should be a huge part of this story (it's a "Rapunzel" retelling!), but the relationship between Wyatt and Rachel remains grossly underdeveloped. Another missed opportunity to create characters readers will care about.

The drug plot thread is just...weird. It seems thrown in simply to provide some action in an otherwise lifeless story.

Was the identity of Rachel's "Mama" supposed to be a twist? I can't imagine any reader not seeing that one coming from miles off.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Overall, a huge disappointment. I am so sad.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: It's not out just yet, but despite my irritation with the story, I'll still buy it for the library. My students will ask for it, and I will enjoy hearing about what they think of it. I do think some will like it, but I don't see it being anyone's favorite Flinn retelling.

READALIKES: anything by Alex Flinn or Jackson Pearce

  • Overall: 2/5--I debated on one star, but I did like the ghost visits and Wuthering Heights references
  • Creativity: 2/5
  • Characters: 1/5
  • Engrossing: 2/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5

  • Language: mild
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing
  • Violence: mild; bad people follow Wyatt, slavery
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium-high; the drug is a fake drug called Rhapsody (a leaf)--it's a big part of the story, especially at the end

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