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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A minute on earth is not the same....
Silver is a young red haired, green-eyed eleven year old living in a vast house that dates back to the 1500's. Her parents and her sister, Buddleia, have been dead (or as Silver believes it missing) for four years. This means that Silver has to be taken care of by her Aunt Mrs. Rokabye, a woman who looks after her own interests. One day a man named Abel Darkwater comes...
Published on July 5, 2006 by Karusichan

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted this to be brilliant
Tanglewreck seemed like a perfect combination of two of my great loves -- Jeanette Winterson's work and children's books -- until I actually read it. Silver's a wonderful heroine, and the plot had heaps of potential, but Winterson seems to have entered a new genre without bothering to learn much about the way children's books work. Winterson seems to be writing for...
Published on October 21, 2006 by Erin Kissane


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A minute on earth is not the same...., July 5, 2006
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Hardcover)
Silver is a young red haired, green-eyed eleven year old living in a vast house that dates back to the 1500's. Her parents and her sister, Buddleia, have been dead (or as Silver believes it missing) for four years. This means that Silver has to be taken care of by her Aunt Mrs. Rokabye, a woman who looks after her own interests. One day a man named Abel Darkwater comes into their lives, searching for an item called the timekeeper. Whatever this device does Silver is unaware, but it is plain that Darkwater wants it and will do anything to get it.

After a trip to London and bizarre occurrences with Darkwater forces Silver to flee she is aided by a young man, more precisely a young man belonging to a race of underground dwelling people called the Throwbacks. As Silver stays with them she learns they were once all patients at an asylum called Bedlam where Darkwater performed nefarious experiments on them. Into the mix is also mentioned a woman named Maria Prophetessa , who has an unusual connection to a woman named Regalia Mason, an executive at a corporation called Quanta, who has succeeded in the manufacturing of extracting time from people who have far too much of it and the selling it off to people who have too little. Also on Silver's trail is a couple of questionable men named Thugger and Fisty, who also seem as if they are interested in the fabled timekeeper.

Silver and Gabriel, the throwback, are now in a race with all of these people to find the legendary timekeeper. Unaware that Mrs. Rokabye has managed to acquire a piece of it from Silver's duffel bag they set of on a quest to secure the device, skirting Time Tornadoes, one-dimensional travel, black holes, starvation, and temptation from those who are their friends to ally themselves to the dark side. But can Silver and Gabriel succeed in their endeavors and manage to save all existence as they know it?

Sound confusing? In a way it is. The plot is fairly straight forward. Girl discovers an evil force threatening mankind, girl finds out she can stop evil force, girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl must avoid questionable dark forces trying to cause harm, etc. etc. Fairly typical plot development for a fantasy book. Where it takes a turn from typical to confusing is in the method in which Winterson delivers the ideas and the way she crafts the story. For one thing she develops these short chapters, many only 5 to 10 pages long that are broken up into these random short paragraphs that make up different plot developments in the story. For instance, one paragraph may be only 6 sentences long, the sentences only containing 6 or 7 words each, then there is a break and the story either switches to something completely different (and usually right back) or it will continue with the story from the same paragraph just with a break for emphasis. What this technique does is it breaks up the story into this very frenetic telling of a story, like a movie does, or as if the story was dissolving into fragments before our eyes. Now, one can follow the story from the various angles, but it makes it a little confusing to the reader. My concern is that I am an adult reading this story and it is geared at children from 8 to 12? Will a child be able to follow this type of narrative? This may have to do with the fact that this is a typical literary device of Winterson's, except for the fact that this book is two to three times longer than her average books, so the style seems distinctly more rambling than usual.

Now, I have been a Winterson fan for a while now, so much so I feel as if I would be on a first name basis with her were we ever to meet. I adore her wit, her use of classic literature and metaphors, her dialogue and lexicon, and the simply superb style in which she translates her thoughts to a language in which the reader can understand. Her themes are generally straight forward and deal with a variety of science, philosophy, and love. When I saw she had written a children's sci-fi I was excited, and a little leery, in tandem. Winterson usually writes these incredibly poignant books of love, loss, and heartache... nine times out of ten about love between two women because she is an out lesbian (as I am). I wondered if she would exert her politics about her sexuality into this book and how that would come out in a child's book? I am happy and sad to say that she has not. There is not one glimmer of that essence of Winterson in this piece, in fact the slight bit of attraction there is in the book is between a female human and a male Throwback (interesting that it is an outcast, though) and it is mild and innocuous at best. One the one hand I am happy about this, because it means that any bigoted parents will let their child read this book (many religious folk may still have an issue with all of the "magic" , ie, "satanic" elements found in sci-fi... although the magic elements most people associate with science fiction are completely absent from this story, I can still see narrow minded people steering their children clear of it simply because of the genre more than anything). Now, I did say that the absense of her sexuality makes me sad too. While this lack makes it an appropriate read for that age bracket it of course makes me sad that Winterson has not in some small way written something about it for children to let them know that it is ok to be gay. Perhaps in the future, this is a science fiction story after all.

I have really mixed feelings about this book, however, that make it hard for me to say concretely that I loved or hated it. There are parts that are so wonderfully engaging I found myself devouring the text. However, there are parts that are so confusing I found myself distracted and not absorbing the story at all. Now, I tend to have a hard time reading books with a time theme to it (A wrinkle in time, for example, was difficult for me), so it may have been just the theme bothering me. Also, this may not have been my best week to read this as I have been overall distracted as of late, and should probably sit down with this a second time. It's one of those that warrants a second reading to tie up all the loose ends that are peppered throughout the story... but as a first attempt into a genre Winterson usually does not delve into it is a solid B, at best. I would have like to see her make it less frenetic, but perhaps that was the only way she could reign in her unique style to accommodate the age of the intended audience.

"The river Thames at Limehouse bows away from the City. The river glitters darkly. The river reflects the starless London sky. The river flows on to the sea. The river flows in one direction, but Time does not. Time's river carries our spent days out to sea and sometimes those days come back to us, changed, strange, but still ours. Time's flow is not even, and there are snags underwater, hesitations in Time where the clock sticks. A minute on Earth is not the same as a minute on Jupiter. A minute on Earth is sometimes a different length all by itself. "
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted this to be brilliant, October 21, 2006
By 
Erin Kissane (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Hardcover)
Tanglewreck seemed like a perfect combination of two of my great loves -- Jeanette Winterson's work and children's books -- until I actually read it. Silver's a wonderful heroine, and the plot had heaps of potential, but Winterson seems to have entered a new genre without bothering to learn much about the way children's books work. Winterson seems to be writing for children from a great distance, as though her own early childhood isn't quite real to her; it doesn't work. Her settings never came to life and after the first quarter of the book, the tone became increasingly sentimental and condescending...a fatal flaw in a book written for children.

Those seeking compelling, multilayered fiction for children would do better to try THE GOLDEN COMPASS (Philip Pullman) or the less famous but completely delightful FLY BY NIGHT (Frances Hardinge). Winterson fans who'd like to read luminous, literary prose applied to fantasy-genre tropes could do no better than to try LUD IN THE MIST, by Hope Mirrlees (a contemporary and acquaintance of Virginia Woolf).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, February 11, 2007
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Hardcover)
Time is not behaving itself. Trains stall in time, then rush ahead as if to catch up, pyramids appear in London, a school bus gets sucked into a Time Tornado and vanishes, and there have been woolly mammoth sightings in the park. Most people can't make any sense of it, and it's getting worse. And the people who do understand it, well, they might be the most dangerous of all.

Silver is an eleven-year-old orphan, alone in the world. Well, not completely alone. She has Mrs. Rockabye, the aunt who mysteriously appeared after the death (or maybe disappearance) of Silver's family. Silver thinks that she'd rather be alone than with Mrs. Rockabye, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon. For now Silver's greatest comfort is her house, Tanglewreck. It comforts her, soothes her, and even speaks to her. She knows about the strangeness of time, but as long as she can stay at Tanglewreck, she doesn't seem to be too concerned.

Abel Darkwater knows about time, and he understands why it's behaving strangely. Abel is sure that time can be controlled, and that whoever controls time will control the universe. Abel intends to be that person. He's sure that all he needs is the Timekeeper. And he's positive that Silver knows where it is. After all, Silver's dad was bringing it to Abel on the day the family died.

Silver is in a race against time, literally, to keep the Timekeeper safe. If only she knew where it was. Or what it was. With the help of her strange, new, old friend, Gabriel, Silver will have to travel to unknown places and times on a quest for something she's never seen.

I've always loved time travel stories, and this one is no exception. This is the first story I've read that has dealt with the actual alteration of time as opposed to the adjustments of the main character inside a particular time. Although that's in here, too. And, I have to say that this is the closest I've ever come to understanding Quantum Theory. (Something I'm sure would be very disappointing to all of the science teachers I've ever had.) Don't let that intimidate you though. Previous knowledge is (obviously) not required. Whether or not you come away with an understanding of that is not really even the point, though a nice side benefit. The point is that this is a very good, interesting, and well-written story. Plain and simple. You should read it.

Reviewed by: Carrie Spellman
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The World...and other Places, June 30, 2006
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Hardcover)
This book is a real treat for Winterson fans. Very different from her other work and yet retains all of the elements of Winterson's unique style. Characters from or very similar to her adult novel "Lighthousekeeping" reappear (Silver, Abel Darkwater; and Mrs. Rockabye bears a striking resemblance to Miss Pinch) and many of Winterson's usual themes (the place of science (or reason) and religion (or mnagic) in our world; the healing/rescuing power of love; the families we create vs. the one we are born in to)as well as her usual dazzling use of language/storytelling (stories within stories) and a great adventure to boot! Many may feel that it's a bit much for children to take in but don't sell them short. There are important lessons to be learned and those lessons are taught well here. It's a provocative book and a fun read! For Winterson fans it shows real growth for the author who admits "A beginning, a middle and end is the proper way to tell a story. But I have problems with that method;" Winterson succedes admirably with this plot-driven page turner! And the cast of characters (the ones mentioned before; the loveable Gabriel the Throwback and friend Toby; the hilarious Thugger and Fisty; the deceptive and despicable Regalia Mason; the pirate Roger Rover)are some of the most well-developed of Winterson's career (characterization is another of Winterson's weaknesses). Obviously, once she's dispensed with the desire to impress with her cleverness, Winterson can still amaze. It has its flaws, of course; references to the real world are jarring in the context of such a richly drawn imagined world; things happen that are a bit too convenient (The telepathy of the Throwbacks, for example; Gabriel's escape from the Black Hole)or not entirely explained (Why, for example, is Gabriel suddenly able to live above ground in the light when Throwbacks cannot live in the light?). But these are small things far outweighed by the many things there are to love about this book. We can only hope that either Silver's adventures continue or at least Winterson continues to write for children.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Start, Muddy Middle, Questionable Ending, October 21, 2012
By 
yespat (St. Louis, MO USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Hardcover)
When I started the book I was really thrilled. It was so imaginative that I kept wondering why it had not yet been made into a film.
Then about midway, it felt muddy, hard to follow. I almost put it down. Just at the part where that was about to happen, the pace picked up again and once more it was great.
The ending was disappointing and for once I could see why Hollywood had not picked up this title. She'd have to completely rewrite the ending for that to happen and I'm sure she'd not be willing to do that.
It's too bad because much of the book is Very Very good but if you don't have a good ending, it would be hard to sell....that is, unless she wrote a part 2 which would be able to complete the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, June 6, 2011
By 
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Hardcover)
Winterson is every bit as thrilling with "Tanglewreck," aimed at a teen readership as she was in the first reading I heard decades ago over the air from her very adult novel, "Sexing the Cherry." Those first JW words I heard, arresting and compelling, inspired me to read nearly everything she has ever written. No one writes like JW.

Her characters are headstrong, adults are quirky in their wicked self-serving motives, changing environments are pictured in such visible nuance, romping through the "bendy physics" of time-travel goes deeper, weaves more complex layers while remaining fun than other SF I've read on the same theme. Details in her stories are jewels rendered edible for the reader, too precious to swallow, too delicious to wolf down unconsciously. Indeed, her words are as satisfying to read as eating a well savored fruit. Throughout, the rhythm of her prose flows the story ever onwards.

Tanglewreck is a tale of power and allegiances where the young protagonists must prevail in a parallel world fraught with complicated adult schemes to wreak the sort of pointless havoc, environmental destruction, actions borne on the perception of life being cheap that adults in our own world engage in all too frequently. Smart, action-packed and vividly portrayed.

Tanglewreck, wish it would be available for Kindle, I've bought so many used copies and given them all away.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Young Adult Time Travel Story, February 6, 2010
Something is wrong with the fabric of time. The people of London are suddenly witnessing time tornadoes during which anyone in their path disappears, and a woolly mammoth has been spotted near the river. Because of these strange occurrences, eleven year old Silver is suddenly faced with the daunting task of finding the legendary Timekeeper. It is said that he or she who holds the Timekeeper controls time. It was last seen in the possession of Silver's father who just so happened to have disappeared without a trace four years earlier.

I really enjoyed this book. It would have easily been one of my favorites if I had discovered it when I was a pre-teen/teenager. I'm a fantasy fan and a fan of time travel novels anyway. Given that, and the fact that it was written by Winterson, whom I think is brilliant, I was destined to love this book. Hopefully, I can convince my stepson to read it now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surreal, sweet, and full of SCIENCE!, September 7, 2009
By 
A. Finch (Albuquerque, NM USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Hardcover)
Alright, I admit it. The shiny text on the spine lured me into reading this. Well, the shiny text and the supremely interesting title- and once again I have been lucky in that this was actually, happily, a really good book!

There's a lot I love about Tanglewreck, but the biggest thing is how weird it is. It's hard to pick out specific things because the whole thing is just a little off-center, like how Alice in Wonderland is just a little different from what our own world is like. It all starts off very normally, but then quickly proceeds to throw out these strange little facts and people and events, and it's all a lot of fun.

Take, for instance, the people who live below ground, deep within London's sewers and lower. Or the fact that Silver's house talks to her of the future and that it sets up traps for burglars to fall into. Or what about Bigamy the rabbit, who spies on Silver and reports her doings to his owner (and Silver's caretaker), Mrs. Rokabye? Strange, and fun.

The plot is terribly exciting, but it doesn't go in a straight line from start to finish. It meanders, goes a little slow in parts, and when the end comes it was as much a surprise to me as it was to the characters. It's a good plot, though, and worth following to the end.

Tanglewreck is a little confusing in the way that I'm still not entirely sure what happens in A Wrinkle in Time, but there's much less science (no tesseracts at all) and I'm pretty sure I figured everything out. I do think the emphasis is more on the characters and their relationships with each other than the science/magic bits, and surprisingly those relationships aren't complicated at all.

When science isn't being discussed the prose can be a bit sappy (love moves faster than the speed of light? O-kay.), but I didn't mind most of the time. It wasn't too sappy, and some sweetness is a nice thing, I think.

The only real issue I had with Tanglewreck is that I had a hard time connecting emotionally to the characters. I liked them, and I was interested in reading about them, but I never felt close to them. I was always slightly distanced from them, and that's a tough thing to have to read with, a lot of times. Also I think the characters came off sometimes like cardboard props waiting to say their lines- Mrs Rokabye, especially, comes off as a prop character. If Tanglewreck had characters with more depth, I think it would have been even more enjoyable than it is now. And also I think sometimes the explanations of what a black hole is, or describing something Einstein said, etc., can come off as rather teach-y, but not in an entirely annoying way. Sometimes it was pretty useful- like how fast exactly the speed of light is. All I remembered before was "really, really fast."

Despite those problems, I had a really good time reading Tanglewreck. It's a little surreal, a little strange, and a lot of fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson, January 16, 2012
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This review is from: Tanglewreck (Paperback)
This young adult novel by Jeanette Winterson didn't thrill me like I expected it to or like some of her adult works have done, Weight and Lighthousekeeping just to mention a couple of the many books of hers that I like. Tanglewreck was a bit plodding with too much explanation and not enough imagination. Maybe I would have responded better to it if I was 12, but then again I like the Harry Potter series for exactly what it is, a jump into fantasyland without the burden of proof.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Jeanette we know, January 21, 2014
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This review is from: Tanglewreck (Kindle Edition)
It is not the Jeanette we know but in this world possibilities are endless. I love it and the choices made. For sometimes they are hard and make us cry but in the end all that matters is the possibilities of time.
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Tanglewreck
Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
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