Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn


Author: Alex Flinn

Purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Synopsis: Bewitching can be a beast. . . .

Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn't.

I go to a new school now--one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I'm not still here because I'm stupid; I just don't age.

You see, I'm immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years--except for when to take my powers and butt out.

I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the "Titanic" lifeboat? I don't even want to think about it.

Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn't get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl--and it isn't an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start . . . bewitching.

Brought to you by TeamNerd ReviewerAnnabell Cadiz

Review: In Beastly Kendra was one of my favorite characters. I was looking forward to getting a chance to read Bewitching and discovering more about Kendra’s story and how she came to be witch. While there were certain aspects of the book that were interesting and entertaining, the book fell short of actually delivering to the same height of enjoyment as Beastly.

I had thought Bewitching would solely focus on Kendra’s backstory and how she manages to keep to getting herself involved in other people’s lives and what happens when she does. The first third of the book does deal with Kendra specifically. Kendra is left an orphan in her small village, her family having all died of the black plague except for her younger brother Charlie, and she is desperately seeking for a way to help her brother survive since he has become sick as well. She discovers her dormant powers one evening and knows she cannot stay within the village. Even before the plague, the village was keeping a close eye on everyone and casting claims of witchcraft on anyone who did anything remotely suspicious so Kendra packs up her brother and heads out of town. Except soon she is entangled in mess involving a gingerbread house, a wicked witch who likes to eat children and learns she is more powerful then she realized.

At the beginning of the first third of the book, I was invested into Kendra’s story. The pain and loneliness she was endearing from losing her family. The tragedy of her world falling apart and the desperation she feels to save the only remaining family member she has left. Right from the start the reader is rooting for Kendra to find love and a happy ending from the heartbreak she has had to go through so early in her life. But then Kendra’s story turns rather boring. She loses the intimacy she shares with the reader and starts to go through the motion of repetitively describing what’s going on until she finally manages to become free of the evil witch.

Then the book fast forwards to the present but doesn’t focus on Kendra. The story turns to Emma and Lisette. A modern take on the story of Cinderella, a bad take at that. It takes the span of the entire novel before the story reveals HOW and WHY Kendra decided to involve herself in Emma’s world. Emma’s mother got remarried and her father discovers he had a daughter, Lisette, and moves her into their home after Lisette’s mother dies. Emma thinks it’s her chance to finally get the sister she’s always wanted but things don’t go according to plan. Emma is the definition of a weak female lead. She is one of the WORSE I have ever read. She is dull, boring, lacks both courage and self-esteem, and let’s everyone treat her life crap. She never stands up for herself and thinks the only way she’ll be complete is if the popular girls like her and if Lisette approves of her finally. Emma spends the entire novel moping about how unfair her life is and never made any actual effort to reclaim her relationship with her father, her friends, her boyfriend. She just let’s Lisette take everything from her and only groans about it until Kendra decides to step in to help her. Even when Kendra does, there’s isn’t even much magic performed. The story lacked depth and that bang factor.

Lisette was supposed to be portrayed as the evil stepsister who comes in and destroys Emma’s life and how poor Emma has no control over it. The problem was that Lisette wasn’t really so much evil as she was pathetic. She only gets away with making Emma’s life so miserable because Emma let’s her. Emma could have told her father the truth and her boyfriend but let’s herself be intimated by Lisette. Emma is constantly reminding the reader that she allows Lisette to slide because they are “sisters” and she finally has the sister she’s always wanted. Lisette is bitter, angry, petty, and shallow. She blames Emma for the life she had but really it was her mother’s fault.

Then there’s the romance within the story. I did like the way Emma’s relationship with her crush Warner developed. They started off as friends which was cute and they develop a close relationship. The problem was there were holes within their relationship and what ends up happening between Lisette, Warner and Emma was BEYOND ridiculous! Warner ends up being used as a puppet within the plot. He doesn’t possess his own thoughts and is easily manipulated. He was just as pathetic as Lisette and Emma. Whatever sweetness Warner possessed was quickly thrown out the window and his personality turned one dimensional. The romance in the book was shallow and had no real life lesson. Okay, well, that’s not true: the lesson was that a girl will discover how beautiful she is and how amazing she is when a hot, rich guy walks into her life and tells her she is. *rolls her eyes*

There are retellings of the Little Mermaid and the Princess and the Pea in-between Emma and Lisette’s story. But both retellings are lackluster at best and boring at worse. The retelling of the Little Mermaid was probably the worse retelling of the two. I can’t even remember what the girl’s name was who played the mermaid. She has no common sense and is so gullible. She also falls in love at first sight and is willing to give up her entire life to be with a human she doesn’t even know much about. Then what happens when she finally finds the guy was just so stupid I couldn’t take it. The retelling of the Princes and the Pea was just boring and the prince lacked any spine I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be with him. I didn’t really understand the need to place both those retellings within the book. Kendra was barely present and when she showed her so called magic there wasn’t much of it.

I did like Kendra though. She was sarcastic and amusing. But so much of the book covered retellings and Emma and Lisette’s stories that after the first third of the story there isn’t much else to discover about Kendra. It was disappointing not to get to see her powers and the depth she could really go with them. Or to discover where exactly her powers came from and whatever happened to her brother after she helped him survive. Kendra isn’t as much of a mystery but there still isn’t known too much about her character other than the fact that she gets involved in people’s lives even though it doesn’t always go well. Other than that Kendra isn’t seen or heard from much throughout the book.

Bewitching had moments were it did deliver. The writing was well done in certain parts and the romance between Warner and Emma started off in a really cute and sweet way. Kendra’s short chapters were pretty entertaining and amusing. But there was nothing really memorable about the book (other than how boring it was). There was too much repetition in Emma and Lisette’s story which made a barely existing plot and there were no likeable characters outside of Kendra. The pacing was choppy, starting off well then progressing excruciatingly slow. The characterization had no real build up since every character came off without depth or dimension. The various scenarios within each of the retellings as well as Emma and Lisette story didn’t always work because there wasn’t enough build up.

Bewitching could have been good if the story would have shown more of what Kendra could do and how she managed to find the people whose lives she gets involved with but it wasn’t able to meet expectations.

About the Author: Alex Flinn loves fairy tales and is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Beastly, a spin on Beauty and the Beast that was named a VOYA Editor’s Choice and an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Beastly is now a major motion picture starring Vanessa Hudgens! She also wrote A Kiss in Time, a modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and Cloaked, a humorous fairy tale mash-up, as well as Breathing UnderwaterBreaking PointNothing to LoseFade to Black, and Diva. Alex lives in Miami with her family.

Where to Find the Author

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