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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends (Ever After High #1)" by Shannon Hale (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit Shannon Hale's Official Site Here

OVERVIEW: At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.

FORMAT: Ever After High: Storybook of Legends is a middle school fairy tell retelling. It stands at 320 pages and was published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on October 8, 2013. This is the first book of a series.   

ANALYSIS: I am not a huge fan of books that are created with the sole purpose of selling, promoting Internet websites/TV shows/app. I understand that it is essentially a marketing tool that gets kids to read, but I am just not a fan of it.

So, imagine my surprise when I picked up Ever After High based off of the description only to discover it is a book designed to subtly (or maybe not so subtly) promote a series of Mattel dolls. I wasn't thrilled and almost put it back, but seeing as I love fairy tale retellings; I figured I'd give it a go. And I am glad I did.

Ever After High: Storybook of Legends was a fast-paced, light read that really gave fairy tales a new twist. The book is intended for middle school readers and the writing style, conversations, and some of the problems the characters faced reflect that, but I don't think there is anything 'older' readers can't relate to in this book.

The plot of Ever After High: Storybook of Legends revolves around the idea that the sons/daughters of famous storybook/fairy tale characters all attend a boarding school together. The first year, they are given the freedom to choose classes that they like, but the second year they are 'groomed' to be the characters/people their parents are in their stories.

Second year is when the characters must sign their name in the Storybook of Legends and pledge to assume their role as the hero/subcharacter/villain/etc. They have no choice in the matter, they must do this or they will disappear and the other characters in their story will not be able to get their 'happily ever after'.

Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, is having second thoughts about this. The plot of the first book revolves around Raven Queen trying to discover herself and see if there is a way that she can change her destiny and not become the Evil Queen.

I believe this plot line allows 'older' readers to relate to the story. Every adult knows what it is like to not fit in, feel as if their life is in the hands of others, etc. In addition to relating to older readers, this plot line sends a subtle, but important message to the younger readers – that your destiny and life is your own.

Normally, I would say a novel that incorporates this idea is doomed to fail, but Shannon Hale really pulls this off. Sure, there are quirky things that drove me a little crazy, but it was a nice, fast, read that I really enjoyed. I can only think of a handful of other authors that would be able to pull this type of novel off without it being a total disaster.

One thing that drove me crazy for example was everything (and I mean everything) has some sort of cutesy nickname. Hextbooks instead of textbooks and things like that. I think it would be cute for younger readers, but it just made my eye twitch sometimes.

Shannon Hale does an excellent job of taking familiar characters, Snow White, Evil Queen, etc., and adding a unique twist to them. The characters are still familiar, but Hale really does make them her own. I think this above all is what makes this book stand out.

Just be warned, there are 2 more books planned for the series. So, not all questions or problems are solved in this book, which is a little disappointing.

Overall, if you are able to put aside the obvious marketing ploy and love fairy tale retellings this may be the book for you. The writing style is definitely middle school, but this novel is a page-turner and worth the read.


Beth said...

I'll have to skip this one. The marketing ploy would really irritate me.

Cindy said...

I really wish this book had been made separate, but it isn't. On the other hand, I can't stand any other books that try to incorporate other forms of media.

For example, there was a whole series of books that had the children following Youtube videos (or something similar). Children were encouraged to 'go online' and watch them.

Maybe it is old school thinking, but books and media/apps/toys should be separate.

Anonymous said...

This es the best book I had ever read I am about to start reading the third book right now thank you to Shannon Hale for righting these books

Anonymous said...

But the third book es about to be opened by Cinthia Romero


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