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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Eyes Like Stars" Act One Theatre Illuminata by Lisa Mantchev (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Lisa Mantchev's Website Here
Order Eyes Like Stars from Amazon Here

Introduction: I first heard about Eyes Like Stars through Myspace a little over a year ago. I have followed the author fairly closely and the mystery behind the book really got me excited about the upcoming release. As a fan of the stage and Broadway musicals anything that involves acting and stage work immediately has my interest.

Eyes Like Stars is Lisa Mantchev's debut novel and it really makes a stunning "stage" debut.

Overview: The Theatre Illuminata isn't your ordinary theatre, instead it's filled with magic, mystery and a lot of charismatic characters. Every play ever performed in this theatre comes to life after the curtain closes. The characters mill around the theatre (in semi-character), the scenes from the plays are available just beyond the wings with a call from the stage manager.

Although every character loves their time on the stage, they are bound to the theatre by the Book. The book contains every play every written and bounds the characters to stay within the confines of the theatre, never to leave, as a matter of fact there isn't even an Exit door that is visible to the "Players".

Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has grown up living in the Theatre Illuminata for as long as she can remember. Although she often re-enacts her coming to the theatre using the stage magic, she never truly understands how she got to the theatre. One shocking afternoon, Beatrice is told by the Theatre Manager that she must leave the theatre, the only home she's ever known. After much compromise a deal has been made that if Bertie can make herself a part of the theatre then she can stay.

The only problem is there are many obstacles standing her way. It appears as though there are more then one person that doesn't want Beatrice to succeed, and stay in the theatre. Beatrice will deal with having to face the problems head on, while making herself an important part of the theatre.

Analysis: Eyes Like Stars is one of those books that you are torn on how you want to read. I was captured by the magical writing of Lisa Mantchev. On one hand, I was torn between wanting to breeze through the book to see what happens, but on the other hand I didn't want the book to end because I loved everything about it.

Mantchev does a wonderful job of creating believable and lovable characters. Beatrice acts like a 17 year old, not childish but not overly mature. She often makes mistakes and gets carried away with herself, all very life like. The readers begin to form a bond with her that only grows stronger throughout the book.

The cast of supporting characters are also very well rounded. Beatrice having lived in the theatre so long as made friends with the Players of the Stage. She is friends with four fairies that are constantly around her offering support and help. There is also Nate, a young pirate from a play and Ariel, the air spirit who round out the majority of the supporting characters. All of the characters could stand on their own, and really help make the story so enchanting.

Along with the cast of characters, is the setting and ideas behind the whole story. There is a lot of time and creativity spent on every little detail throughout the book, and readers can really see that as they dive deeper into the book. There are multiple plays that make appearances, and many different cast members from all sorts of plays throughout the book. The uniqueness of the story really brings up the book.

Another contributing factor to the magic of the book is that of the dialog. The characters really seem to interact well with each other. There is a lot of joking and kidding around, but also there is a lot of support when support is needed to be given to each other.

A major influence for enjoying the book is that this book could take place at any time in history. It could be a story told 50 years ago, and I can see it being told 50 years from now. There isn't any technology that dates this story. Although having modern technology isn't a bad thing, the setting in time for this story is perfect and just adds to another reason to love this book.

The ending of the book is perfect, there is a lot of closure but yet there is just the right amount of information left out there that there could be more books. So while readers have a few questions left out there, there's a sense of closure to the book that leaves them feeling complete.

Eyes Like Stars is one of those YA books that has multi-age appeal. While it could appeal to those that are fans of the stage, there is a special draw that'll bring in almost any type of reader. The unique idea for a storyline and the creativity involved really draw in readers to a very magical world that they can be wrapped up in.

In the end, I loved Eyes Like Stars. It's a hard book to describe to anyone because the major appeal for myself was finding out along with the characters certain plot lines and twists. However the idea of a theatre that has all the characters from plays living inside it is an appeal and magical one. The pages just seemed to melt away, and I found myself staying up late at night with my nose buried in the book to see what was going to happen. I was actually IN the story, not just reading it.

Although it's only August and there are plenty of months left in the year, I might go as far as to say that this book is one of my top books for 2009. I really hope to see this book go far. If Lisa Mantchev keeps up this talent of writing she will definitely be going far, it'll be interesting to see where she takes this novel but also if she branches out into other novels in the future. She's definitely an author to keep an eye on.


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Robert said...

Eyes Like Stars was a major surprise for me. It was fresh, well-written and remarkably charming. I loved it and I feel it's one of the best YA novels I've read in 2009 :)


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