Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Briar Rose
by Jane Yolen

Summary: A retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale finds Briar Rose living in forests patrolled by the German army during World War II in a dark tale of the Holocaust.

Ever since she was a child, Becca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Becca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.
I'm not sure what to think of this book really. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't particularly great didn't get under my skin the way it should have and it felt like something was missing.

I think the problem was that the most interesting part of the story was weighed down by all this other stuff. Gemma was the interesting character, her story was interesting...but we didn't really get to that until the last 50-70 or so pages of the book (and even then, barely any of it was actually about her, she just appeared as a side character in someone else's story).

Becca (Gemma's granddaughter and the main character of the story) was really dull, I didn't dislike her, I just didn't care at all about her life. She was supposed to be a journalist, and yet things that should've been blatantly obvious--or at the very least, something she considered--she either took forever to figure out or had to have them spelled out to her by someone else...not very convincing as a journalist. Her relationship with Stan was really bland too and, again, I didn't care about it.

I just found the story boring and frustrating mostly. For such a short book it really dragged, anytime I thought it was picking up pace it would start dragging again. And something about one of the people Becca meets just seemed way too convenient.

I would've probably loved the book had it just been Gemma's story, or Gemma narrating her own story, because having Becca trying to figure it out and then us having to hear the story secondhand dulled the impact that a story like that should've had. Even the flashbacks of Gemma telling the Sleeping Beauty story were ruined by being so disjointed--little bits of it scattered randomly throughout the book, and even those bits were annoyingly interrupted by Becca and her sisters.

So...yeah. It's not a bad book, just more forgettable than a book with this sort of subject matter should be. Most of the story was uninteresting to me and the parts that should have been interesting weren't as hard-hitting as they should've been (either because of the way they were told, or because they were overshadowed by all the other stuff).

I'd rate the book 2.5 out of 5 stars, but maybe you'll have more luck with it than I did.



  1. I had the opposite reaction to this one. I wonder if it has to do with whether you prefer a character- or plot-driven book? In any case, I'm sorry it didn't work for you. May your next read be more inspiring!

    1. I can enjoy books that are plot or character driven really, I don't have a preference.

      I think the problem I had with this one was that the only character I actually cared about was Gemma (young Gemma) and her story was the only part of the plot that interested me, the rest of the plot was just dull and poorly executed and the other characters were pretty bland and that was the stuff that made up the majority of the book.

      But, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've seen mixed reviews of it so it seems to be either a hit or miss with people. :)



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