Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: The Girl Who Played Chess With An Angel (Novella) by Tessa Apa

The Girl Who Played Chess With An Angel (Novella)

Author: Tessa Apa

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Synopsis: You might think meeting an Angel is rare, but it's not. Lots of people do. They just don’t know it.

Let me tell you something about Angels that you’ll never read in a book. Forget about wings and feathers and reflected light. What really sets them apart, is their smell. 

An Angel’s smell is like sunshine mixed with moonlight. Like fresh grass and bubbling brooks. Like a warm house and a fridge full of food. It’s like every good thing you ever imagined, made invisible, and wafted over you. It gets in your hair and under your nails and down your throat and into your brain. An Angel’s smell makes sense of everything all at once, no matter how hard it is.

From emptiness to everything in just one whiff.

This story is a series of diary entries that have been transcribed from cassettes.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Side Note: This book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: I am not sure where to place this novella.

The story is told in the form journal entries and although many other books use this method, they don’t tell the entire story through journal entries. A book like that may work but alas, when it’s only fifty something pages long, it just flops, especially when the story is supposed to be about self-discovery and discovering the truth about God. There was no real characterization or plot or emotional growth (er, well, not till the novella was close to being done anyway). Readers don’t discovery the main character’s name (Florence) until two-thirds of the novella is read and even though she is supposed to sound like a fourteen-year-old, she reads like a far younger child who struggles to understand the big concept of who God really is and how she learn to believe in herself. I just couldn’t buy it because the character sounded too young to contemplate such questions.

There’s no real set up or useful information to go on about what has happened in Florence’s life (at least not until closer toward the end) and why she is so heartbroken about life. I didn’t care about what Florence faced or really what her family has gone through because the story didn’t flow well and took too long to make a point. Any emotional depth comes in closer toward the end when the truth is finally revealed and it’s sort of absurd, so I still couldn’t care about Florence’s “journey.”

Florence’s mother casting blame on her birth as the reason her happiness disappeared was crazy! She treated Florence as if she was worth no more than the lint her pocket; verbally abusing her and traumatizing her. She was an awful character and I suppose she was supposed to be seen as the villain, as the reason why Florence goes on her quest of self-discovery and finding a loving God. I could understand that aspect of the book and I could appreciate what the author was trying to do.

The novella is classified as Young Adult and I’m sure some YA readers may be able to relate to a certain aspect of the book (i.e. Florence suffering from deep insecurity because of the abuse she has faced from her mother). But if you’re a paranormal or supernatural fan, you’ll be disappointed. There is nothing paranormal or supernatural about the book despite how the synopsis comes off. Yes, there’s an angel but his presence is quite fleeting and the majority of the story deals with Florence’s constant internal monologue about herself and God.

There are some good nuggets of wisdom along the way but overall, I’m not really sure what type of reader would enjoy this book or what readers will be able to take away. The ending wasn’t good and Florence, despite finding God, has no personal growth or any sort of healing. The novella takes on too many big questions and a really big journey of self-discovery in such a SHORT time that there isn’t any way to really flesh anything out. It would have worked far better as a whole book because so many elements needed better explanations. 

About the Author: Tessa Apa lives and writes in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Her first novel took too far too long to write and she's hoping her second will be a lot quicker - she writes surrounded by her family: three children, cat, dog and a lovely husband.

She is inspired by stories that leave her thinking about them long after she has read the last word. Her goal is to write stories just like that.
Where to Stalk the Author: Website/Goodreads/Amazon Author Page

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