Monday, May 23, 2011

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?

My friends did not lie when they said I would be constantly singing Scarborough Fair before, during, and after this book.
The book's plot focuses around this ballad and pays particular attention to the lyrics. Nancy Werlin wrote that she found this ballad terribly romantic as a teenager. "Listening to the lyrics as an adult, though, I was take aback. The man demands one impossible task after another for the woman; and if she doesn't deliver, then she's no "true love" of his. I thought: There's no way that woman can prove herself to that man; he's already made up his mind. Did she do him wrong? What's the story?" After reading the lyrics myself, I realized Werlin was correct. Seamless shirts? An acre of land between salt water and sea strand? Sowing the land with one grain of corn using a goat's horn? Who thinks of this? And Werlin also has a point: It seems this man already made up his mind. It's funny how a very sweet sounding ballad can prove to be a disheartening song about love.
Impossible is the story of Lucy Scarborough. Lucy's birth mother, Miranda, is mentally unbalanced. She is the bag lady of the town, but none of her friends know this about her. Miranda wanders the town singing this ballad and claiming Lucy is "cursed" and "damned". Up until the night of the prom, Lucy assumes her birth mother is just insane and pays her no mind. However, when her date rapes her that night, which leads to her pregnancy, Lucy, the parents who raised her, and her love interest, Zach, begin to listen more closely to the warning.
 Lucy discovers all the Scarborough girls were cursed. In order to lift the curse, the girls must complete all the tasks in the ballad before the birth of their daughters. What seems impossible leads Lucy and her family on a wild journey and race against the clock. Will she succeed in time? Or is she too to suffer the same fate as her mother and ancestors before her?
The author did a fantastic job of spinning this ballad into a challenge. I loved the twists and turns, the attempts and mishaps Lucy suffers through, and of course who doesn't love a great romantic story. Zach is pretty much the ideal man. He stays with Lucy during her rough times and proves to be a friend when she seems to be running out of options. And because I am a hopeless romantic myself, his thoughts, love, and affection towards Lucy is overwhelming. It makes you wish all guys were like that. :p
I enjoyed the book, but I felt the ending was just too convenient. The entire book builds up to the last events, but it almost turns into a mock fairy tale at the end; sort of overdone. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but after reading I felt it was just something I had heard before. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars because I did enjoy the journey, but I just felt the book was so built up that it deserved another ending. I do recommend this book because the concept of taking this ballad and creating a story to go along with it is incredible. It's a really cool idea, plus it was interesting to watch the family figure out the puzzle logically. This truly is a book of togetherness and proving just what true love it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wither: to become wrinkled of age or diease

Lauren DeStefano is an emerging author. I found out she resided in Connecticut and was excited because she was in close range. Of course I will more than likely never come in contact with the woman, but that is besides the point. Wither is her first novel, which is to be the first of a trilogy.
Based on ideas from The Handmaiden's Tale, Wither takes place in the not so distant future. There is a disease that shortens the expected lifespan of men and women. Women are expected to live until they are 20, and men are supposed to live until 25. Once the individual becomes of age, they will begin contracting this disease and slowly die within the year.
Rhine lived with her twin brother, Rowan, until she was captured by the Gatherers. These are a group of people who kidnap women and sell them into prostitution or murder them. Rhine is one of the lucky three who is hand picked by the Housemaster, who is a scientist desperately trying to find the cure for this illness. She, along with the other two chosen, are to become wives of his son, Linden. She will be expected to cater to his every desire, bring him children, and stay enclosed in this mansion for the remainder of her live.
Once the sedation wears thin, Rhine is introduced to her sister wives, Jenna and Cecily. Jenna, 19, is beautiful in every way, but very closed off because her sisters were killed in the same night she was chosen to live. Cecily, 13, is young and naive to this world. She is eager to please her new husband and doesn't quite understand why her sister wives seem to be fighting this new chance at life.
Weeks turn into months, and each day brings a new surprise, a new secret, and a new reason for Rhine to escape. She begins to discover that her new husband is clueless to all the horror around him, and perhaps the Housemaster's chilling appearance may bring danger to all of them.
Love, Love, LOVED this book. The concept for this trilogy is very cool. Plus, it was nice to read an emerging teen read that isn't mature enough for middle school. Each chapter held a new secret, a new discovery for Rhine, and it was a great adventure to go on. Enter Gabriel, one of the kitchen staff, and things get more complicated, but the reader discovers her hidden affection for him. He shows her different aspects of history, when the rest of the continents used to exist, but he also keeps her focused on the one thing she truly desires, which is her freedom. In order to receive the potential keys to her escape, Rhine must rely on the help from Jenna and attempt to gain enough of Linden's trust in order to secure her position as First Wife.
I absolutely fell in love with the characters, the mystery, and the writing. All three girls have such different pasts that it was very interesting to see how they would mesh together. I bought this book before I finished reading it because I knew it was one I needed on my shelf, but it was one I could read again and get the same feelings as I did when I first read it. DeStefano's first book really does leave you craving more.