Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's That Time of the Month Again

That is...book-review-group time!

Once again, I have waited until the VERY LAST MINUTE to review my books. And once again, I have chosen a book to review that's very complex and totally un-summarize-able in 200 words or less, never mind a sentence or two to give my actual opinion of the thing.

So let me tell you about it, okay? Because thank God there's no word limit on this blog.

Though some of you might wish there were.

So: The book is called Mira, Mirror, it's by Mette Ivie Harrison, the inside front cover says it's for ages 10 and up but some very conservative families or libraries might have an issue with 5th graders reading it because of a few oblique references to sex and the possibility of one character having an illegitimate daughter. Also, there's a fair bit of violence and death in it, but honestly no one seems to care about that. Usually all people care about is sex when they talk about "appropriateness" for one age or another, so I've learned that's all I have to worry about. For my library, I think it'd be fine for 5th grade. Actually I gave it to a 4th grader to read a month or two ago, before I'd even read it, and she had no complaints. She's a very sophisticated reader, though, very smart, on the old side for a 4th grader, and I know her mom. So, yeah, 5th grade through maybe 9th grade is about right. Older kids won't touch it, it doesn't look teenage-y enough.

The main character and first-person narrator of this book is named Mira, and she is a mirror. You might think this would present a narrative problem, as mirrors tend to be rather passive. And this mirror does spend a lot of time plotting and scheming to get people to do things for her so that she can become a person again, as she once was, before that evil witch trapped her in wood and glass.

You might wonder, who would let a witch transform her into a mirror? Ah, but Mira was blinded by needy love for the witch, her fellow-apprentice, her adopted sister, the only person who ever showed her any affection. She would've done anything for her. And that's what the witch counted on. Then she used Mira to help make her beautiful, so she could gain power, become a Queen, get rid of that nasty little princess... but something must have gone wrong, because the witch-Queen disappeared, and Mira was left abandoned, hanging on a wall for a hundred years.

And that's just in the first seventeen pages.

Then a young girl, Ivana, finds the mirror while running away from an abusive father and an arranged marriage. Mira speaks to the girl, ostensibly helping her, but really trying to manipulate her so that Ivana can lead Mira to a source of magic, enough magic for Mira to finally escape the mirror and become human again.

But magic is not benign, in this book. Magic comes from life, and the best way to gather magic power is to take it from a dying creature. Of course, if you're unscrupulous, like the witch-queen-sister, you can just get your magic on by torturing and killing animals and people. Mira has never quite had it in her, plus, being a mirror and all, there's not much magic-gathering she can do any more, so her only hope is to convince Ivana to become ruthless and try to be around when magic power is in the air so she can snurfle it up into her mirror-self.

And there's another girl in it too, named Talia, and the mirror makes Ivana and Talia switch identities for reasons to complex to go into here, and lots of stuff happens. I told RW and Mermaid Girl the ending but I'm not going to tell you. But it's really good, and everything comes together just as you're wondering if it ever, ever will. It's really good and dark and magical and hopeful and complex and multifaceted.

In other words....ARRRRGH!

I've tried various hooks to get started: the Snow White angle, which is of course part of the story, but only a tangential part; the who-ever-thought-a-mirror-could-be-such-a-sympathetic -heroine gambit, the just-recount-the-plot-and-say-it's-good device. Nothing is working, here.

So here I am, trying the just-say-what-I-really-think-in-normal-colloquial-non-book -reviewer-ish-language technique. Much more satisfying. But I think this is clocking in at 500 words or so.

Oops, nope-- it's more like 700.

Like I said: ARRRRGH!

Oh, and I have to write up the meeting agenda, too. *&#*%! being President. Being President sux.

So, anyway, um: The book is good. And there's love in it. And death. And powerful scary magic. And it's about the mirror in Snow White, but not about Snow White herself, who never shows up. Highly recommended for grades 5-9.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jo said...

Wow, that sounds really good.

3:04 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

It is! Eliz might like it. Though it's pretty girly for her taste I think.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

I've tagged you with a meme at my blog and feel free to ignore it because it's logn and I would have if I had any way to work which I don't because my work computer is ded, ded (muffled sob) ded.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Udge said...

Being President sux.

I image GWB saying that to himself as he reads the polls and editorials (well, listens as somebody reads them to him).

Sounds like a good book. And, yes, it is odd how many people judge purely on the basis of sex, while accepting any amount of violence.

3:22 AM  
Blogger Udge said...

p.s. I do know how to spell "imagine", honestly I do!

3:23 AM  

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