Sunday, September 23, 2007

Do Not be fooled into thinking there's Magic. There isn't.

What have we here? Is it another Jaclyn Moriarty? Be still my beating heart!

Listen Taylor and her father have just moved in with Marbie Zing. Listen is enthralled with Marbie and the Zings. She finds something that she's never before experienced: Family. People who actually take an active interest in her life. But the Zing Family has a Secret, and Listen is determined to find out what it is.

There isn't a way to shortly sum up or book talk this title accurately. The above sounds good, but it isn't at all reflective to the scope or actuality of the novel. The above is just one story line, one point of view. There are *quickly does head count and comes up with a probably inaccurate number* about six different, intertwined, POVs.

Truthfully, it's the sort of thing that you'd expect to come out of the opium dens of yore. It doesn't mean that it's badly written or that it doesn't do exactly what the author intends, but for the reader, for me, it was a painful contortion of plot and characterization. I only kept reading because I trusted Moriarty. I trusted the track record I had with her. I read on (and on*) simply because of Moriarty's past abilities to transform, in an altogether unexpected way, the meaning of the entire text in one deft plot twist. What may have in fact been intended as that plot twist was easy to discern and so obvious that I read the whole novel with that (correct) interpretation. Which left nothing to stun me into admiration in the end. Perhaps I am tainted in that I expected it of her.

In all fairness, The Spell Book of Listen Taylor is a rework of another Moriarty novel, not published in the U.S., I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes. It should be noted that IHBMBP is an adult title in Australia, and I honestly think that adults will appreciate Spell Book more than the teens it's being marketed to in this reworked package. The abundant adult characters are largely boring and/or unlikable, and I find it unrealistic and off-putting that of the four adult female characters EVERY ONE of them either cheats on their significant other, contemplates it, or is in fact the Other Woman. Four.

The adults' story lines over shadow that of the two kids, Listen and Cassie. I believe that the book would have been much stronger if Moriarty had focused either entirely on the adults OR the kids, and then released it for those perspective audiences. Listen really was a very intriguing character, but she's utterly lost in the muddle. A book solely from her point of view would have been wonderful. As it stands, Listen and her excuse for a spell book don't really warrant their titular position. But then titular can be in name only. It's such a shame, as she was a beautifully complex character having a bad year and trying to find her way. Perhaps just read the Listen portions. Yeah, actually. Do that.

Other people's thoughts:
Teen Reads
Teens Read Too
Literary Dump

*dang thing took me a good two months to read. I kept stopping and picking up something shinier.


Charlotte said...

Oh. Disappointing. I don't really like books with abundent unlikable/boring grownups. There are enough of them in real life.

Jackie Parker said...

I know, right?