Monday, October 26, 2009

Dreaming Anastasia or I Dreamed This Anastasia would be a lot better than it was

Dreaming Anastasia was given a great marketing campaign from SourceBooks in the form of a rampant blog tour which infiltrated my google reader for the course of a few days.

Courtney and I did one of our book swaps at Word on the Street, I was pleased to steal off with this one. I was in the mood for some Romanovs and I always hanker after enchanting stories about the lost Duchess.

Unfortunately, my appetite was not whet. At all.

Now, you all know my favourite thing to do is gush about books. I love finding books that I can talk non-stop about for days. Advertise. Coddle. Adore.

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that frustrates me. This one did.

I wasn’t in the mood for slipshod writing, convoluted perspectives, wooden dialogue and a heroine who was not so much endearingly vulnerable as not-so-bright.

The book just doesn’t work. I applaud Preble for her renaissance of a subject a lot of YA readers would easily jump on a bandwagon for: the Anastasia legend is embedded in intrigue, mysticism and romance and, with that platform, competent and imaginative writers can spin many a lustrous web.

Unfortunately, this web was tangled. Too tangled.

Anne is a lithe ballerina and typical high school girl who is still grieving the loss of her brother while trying to come to terms with a new and eerie presence at school ( the brooding Ethan: trying so hard to be Edward Cullen it made my eye twitch), midterms, ballet class and dreams about a Russian duchess.

That’s right: the lost Duchess is alive and well and infiltrating Anne’s dreams.

Intermixed with this oft confusing and bordering on sheer ridiculous tale we have infusions of Anastasia’s letters. Now this is not at all the author’s fault, but, in ephemera-gone-bad, Anastasia’s “cursive” is nearly illegible in print and I had to squint ( with reading glasses on) to decipher this code.

Far be it for me to stomp on a first novelist. I know, I KNOW how difficult writing intriguing and different YA can be --- especially when infused with history and I applaud Joy Preble ( a high school teacher, at that) for her creativity.

It just doesn’t work. Perhaps if all of the different patterns had been sewn in a different quilt….

The problem is I read a lot ( hundreds ) of YA books a year and I like finding those that fit into my handful of “DROP EVERYTHING AND READ!”

I ended up looking up from the last page while reading on the subway this morning thinking: “I just don’t have time for this.”

In trying to be original and at the same time appealing to the Twilight-audience, Preble has set out to unravel a gorgeous and illustrious facet of history and, ironically, fashioned herself a cliché.

This doesn't mean I won't try Joy Preble out again in the future: she HAS potential.


Kailana said...

I am sorry this book didn't work for you. I found it enjoyable. :)

Court said...

I'm still sorry that you didn't enjoy this one. :( It wasn't perfect, but I thought it was fairly creative with the use of Russian mythology, and I actually liked the alternating perspectives (though it was jarring at times). Yes, the font choice for the letters was HORRID, but it was a solid premiere book.

rachel said...

the premise was great, the exposition was WEAK!

She had some great ideas but limited talent in the actual writing part.

sad, I know. I LOATHE writing bad reviews.