Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mean Kid: Spellbound


My family and I had enjoyed the first Book of Elsewhere, so when I saw Jacqueline West next book, Spellbound, I brought it home.  My seventh grader grabbed it and read it, and then eventually returned it to me.  The fifth grader avoided it, but he gets stressed if he has a to-read pile greater than one so he resists most of my suggestions.

I finally got a chance at it, but I confess I didn't like it as much as the first one.  It mostly isn't the book's fault -- the characters are still interesting, with the children prominent and kindly adults just fluttering in the background, but I've had a run of books with the main characters behaving badly and it's starting to annoy me. Olive, our heroine, spends most of this book being selfish and mean-spirited, partly because she falls under the influence of an evil book, although perhaps it's more accurate to say she leaps energetically into the influence; she certainly makes very few attempts to recover or struggle against it. If the book was so powerful, then she was boringly passive, and if it wasn't, she was complicit.

I have high standards for my heroes -- although they don't always have to make the right decisions, they should be aware of what right and wrong are, and should prefer to do right, even if particular circumstances make that too difficult right now. I'm glad our current car book is a Penderwick tale, because at least they admit when they besmirch their honor and don't spend paragraphs whining their way to a justification.

I'll still look for the next book in this series, but I hope Olive pulls her socks up for it.  X has no such qualms -- he thought it was a great book and is astonished that P didn't read it. His only complaint is that the third book isn't out yet.

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