Friday, May 14, 2010

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken - Book Review #20

Friday, May 14, 2010
Brightly Woven
by Alexandra Bracken

When Wayland North brings rain to a region that's been dry for over ten years, he's promised anything he'd like as a reward. He chooses the village elder's daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she's hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she's heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past.

The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North's dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.

I picked up this book, against my better judgment, because it was highly recommended to me by different sources. Nothing in this book sounded or looked appealing to me – neither synopsis, no genre (I’m usually not a big fun of heroical fantasy), not even a cover, but I still decided to give it a chance.

First couple of chapters was so horrifyingly bad that I almost put the book down and probably I should have, I wouldn’t miss much if I did. The writing was terrible, it sounded like a very bad fan-fiction written by twelve years-old who had never written anything in his/her life, except for his/her name. Dialogs were at least unrealistic, but in reality just so wrong on so many levels. There were no worthy descriptions and the thought of the author was jumping from one thing to another. However, after initial chapters, writing became a bit more tolerable, though, still full of flaws, uncertainties and imperfections. I had a feeling that no editor have ever looked at the manuscript before the publication, or that the editor was a twelve years-old himself.

The good thing is Brightly Woven actually had a plot, which apparently for some novels is not a requirement (silly me, I thought that plot was an essence of the novel). However, plot was very simplistic, plain and full of clich├ęs. The story just didn’t have any spark. Everything was cute, nice and fluffy. Even a bad guy - Reuel Dorwan was not that bad and sometimes I was getting a feeling, that he was just playing peek-a-boo with Sydelle and Wayland – peeking out from the corner and saying “Boo”.

The world of Brightly Woven and its characters were undeveloped. There were no smells, no sounds, no taste, no detailed descriptions, and no definitive characteristics. It would be nice to know something more about the cities and villages, except for - this one in the desert, and that one in the mountains, and another one have towers. The world seemed to be pain and mostly inexistent. Most of the actions took place behind the scene and they were only recapped to reader afterwards. The magic system of the world also needs to be worked more thoroughly– how it works, where it comes from, how it’s controlled, how the spells are cast, what type of spells there are, etc.

Everything in this story was childish and I don’t mean it because of the genre - most of the children books are more mature – the perspective was childish. All the consequences were removed, for the characters to enjoy only the positive aspects of the power. Everything was just too easy and directly handed to the characters, so they wouldn’t have to sacrifice anything in order to achieve their goals. And even if characters were doing something, the effort was not even close to be equal to what they were getting in return.

To summarize, Brightly Woven wasn’t completely horrible. It was a good first draft, but not a finished book. I would really love to see Alexandra Bracken clean it up and edit it thoroughly. I would also be nice to see the plot reworked and wrap up all the plot’s lines more carefully then it is done right now.

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