Monday, 17 December 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

by Anne Ursu

Summary: Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

I read this book because I was looking for a light read that would give me that sort of magical Christmassy feeling, and the book almost delivered. Almost.

I love The Snow Queen, so this being a retelling/a story inspired by The Snow Queen appealed to me but it wasn't amazing. As a retelling, it was kind of mediocre really.
I loved the writing. I think the writing was the best part of the book and there are quite a lot of scraps of paper littered throughout my copy of the book to mark all the pages with quotes that I like. The book is worth reading even just for the writing. A few examples:

“I believe that the world isn't always what we can see. I believe there are secrets in the woods. And I believe that goodness wins out. So, if someone's changed overnight - by witch curse or poison apple or were-turtle - you have to show them what's good. You show them love. That works a surprising amount of the time.” 

“She understood. They were plastic flowers of words—but they looked nice on the surface.”  

It’s all going to be okay. She would like to hear that now, even if it was a lie. Because some lies are beautiful. Stories do not tell you that.”

The characters...I liked them. I wasn't particularly attached to them and didn't feel emotionally invested at all in what happened to them, but I liked them.

I also really liked that Hazel was a little girl whose best friend was a boy and that she liked stories and ballet and superheroes and dragons and knights - I liked that the story showed a girl who was somewhere in between being a girly girl and being a tom boy, because I was like that when I was little (I was the girl who climbed trees wearing dresses, who had more male friends than female, who played with dolls and the games that the boys played too). Most stories I've read have the girl be one or the other, but Hazel was a lot like I was.
I think the worst part of the book, the part that really held it back from being really good, was the length and pacing of it. It felt like the uninteresting parts of the book were really drawn out to the point where sometimes they started to drag and I just wanted to rush through them to get to the interesting parts. And the interesting parts...well, they felt rushed. I wish less time was spent on the build up and more on the action/adventure.

The book did give me the wintery sort of feeling I was looking for, but the negative aspect I just mentioned kind of dampened the magical feeling I wanted.
It was a sweet book, and it was good and I'm glad I read it, it just left me feeling a little underwhelmed when I finished it and kind of unsatisfied because of the best parts being rushed and the dull parts being longer than it felt they needed to be. I'd rate the book 3 stars out of 5 - would have been higher if not for the main issue I mentioned.

p.s. I lovelovelove the cover of this book. It's lovely and I love that it didn't whitewash Hazel. 

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