Monday, March 10, 2008

[Mini Review] Lisa’s Take – Briar Rose (Jane Yolen)

(What's up with this review?)

A bunch of sci-fi fantasy writers got together a few years ago and released a series of novellas that were classic fairy tales crossed with some sort of other story. I had no idea that’s what was going on when I picked up Briar Rose – I honestly just grabbed it because it was short and because I loved Jane Yolen when I was a tween. Turns out Steve Brust also did one of these, as did a number of other authors I’ve read. I kind of wish they’d release them in compiled volumes – I’d definitely pick them all up.

Anyway, I’m divided about Briar Rose overall. I noticed this problem when I reviewed The Kite Runner. I get kind of stand-offish about books that deal with real-life content that the reader is required to feel emotional about. Briar Rose is about a Holocaust victim – of course it’s going to be painful and touching. You can’t do anything about it, and if you review it callously, you’re going to get your stuffing ripped out.

So I’ll divide it up.

  • The parts of the book that dealt with the Holocaust were very well handled and very touching. I would have had a favorable impression of the book if the section that was a character re-telling his Holocaust experience was the entire story.
  • The parts of the book that dealt with the telling of the fairy tale are… interesting. At least somewhat engaging.
  • The parts of the book that dealt with the main character searching for the history were entirely useless. I didn’t give a damn about her, and I didn’t really care if she succeeded. Her love interest was bland and predictable, and all the secondary characters were either flat or obnoxious.

The Bottom Line: ….I really don’t know. The book got a lot of critical acclaim, so maybe it’s just me. Still, I’d say skip it unless you’re looking to depress yourself, or just want to debate with me about it.

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