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The Carver (Order of the Bell) (Volume 1) Paperback – July 19, 2016
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About the Author
When Jacob Devlin was four years old, he would lounge around in Batman pajamas and make semi-autobiographical picture books about an adventurous python named Jake the Snake. Eventually, he traded his favorite blue crayon for a black pen, and he never put it down. When not reading or writing, Jacob loves practicing his Italian, watching stand-up comedy, going deaf at rock concerts, and geeking out at comic book conventions. He does most of these things in southern Arizona.
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Plot: Here is the short version by way of a quote by HUA MULAN herself (p.191):
“Then let me give you the short version. Hansel is under the control of a dark queen who should have disappeared years ago. She’s trying to come back and using Hansel’s body as a vessel. But to come back in her true form, she needs to gather seven pure souls in the Cavern of Ombre . . . ”
Mood: The Carver was fun all around. There were some darker moments, but overall, I was sucked into both the fairy tale world, and our world–it was amusing experiencing our world through the eyes of the fairy tale characters that found themselves here. (I REALLY want to try Macaroni and Cheese on a stick . . . Didn’t know that existed!!)
Pace: Once I got the hang of the back and forth between the OLD WORLD PRESENT, NEW WORLD PRESENT, and OLD WORLD PAST, it was a fast read.
Characters: Jacob’s twist on the characters was reminiscent of Once Upon a Time, yet he did a wonderful job breathing freshness into the characters and adding lots of twists to the fairy tale world that we all “know.” The characters were unique, and you never knew which beloved (and not so beloved) fairy tale character would show up next. I loved Jacob’s little snippet about The Boy Who Cried Wolf. And I’m still chuckling about: Hook. James Hook. HA!
Writing: Grammatically, this book was well-written.
Cons for me personally: At times the dialogue seemed a bit juvenile and forced. And the !’s were a bit over-used. And at times I was totally confused with where I was–which story line–and had to flip back to remind myself.
Level of Violence: There were several moments of evilness-in-action (loved the twists of the good being forced to do evil, but for great reasons…so intriguing!) and some great fight scenes. My favorite fight scene being when Pietro and Enzo were forced into a joust at a Renaissance Fair! Pietro (Peter Pan) is such a sore loser!
Other Thoughts: I think this sums up the takeaway of this story: “ . . . I think it was a big shock when they got to the big twists, but, in the end, you have to realize that these fairy tales were also influenced very heavily by reality, and unfortunately reality sometimes includes tragedy. Even for the heroes.” -Heather McClavender AKA Violet p.231
Would I recommend this?: If you can’t get enough of fairy tales, this book is for you! Well, even if you are “eh” about fairy tales, this book is a great read! And, I must say, I think this book will be even better the second read through—now that I know what happens, and I can follow the back and forth of the story line.
The Carver ends with a TO BE CONTINUED . . . I will definitely be getting a copy so I can find out what happens to all the characters as they try to save their world and ours from the Ivory Queen—Avoria!
sentences had these awkward paragraph breaks right in the middle of them. Also, there was no indention at the beginning of paragraphs. It was tough to wade through, but I checked the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon, and those problems don't seem to exist in the Kindle or paperback versions. So, I'll try to focus on the story.
The book tells three different stories in a way, starting with present-day our world and three years ago in the Woodlands. Then it picks up a third story of 25 years ago in the Woodlands (fairytale world) that follows the MC's father and his friends as children. I didn't find it confusing. I thought the reveals worked pretty well for the most part, weaving together in a beautiful way.
The first few scenes of the book are REALLY cheesy. When the action picks up with Hansel in the Woodlands, it REALLY draws you in. Then some action happens with the present day crew, and you're pretty much hooked. When the 25-years-ago story comes in, it's mostly fascinating. You can't really be scared for the kids because you know they all survive, but it's fun. Throughout the rest of the book, there continue to be lame, cheesy, or awkwardly written sections, but they are mostly few and far between, not ruining the whole story. As I was reading, I was thinking this was a 3.7 star read, still making it a rounded 4. But by the end, with how everything came together...it really captivated me. I definitely want to read Devlin's next books in this series. I worry that they won't be as good because they'll lack the complexity this one had with the three storylines and steady reveals, but we'll see.
On another note, I saw some reviews that complained about the story being too complex to the point of confusion, having too many characters, and not feeling like YA. My opinions on these things:
While there were points when I wrinkled my nose at the inclusion of SO MANY DIFFERENT fairytales/stories (Peter Pan, Pinnochio, Hansel & Gretel, Mulan, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Merlin, Kaa, and Dr. Frankenstein), by the end, I LOVED it. Because you get to know everyone, and they are people, not caricatures. Overall, I enjoyed the large cast.
I would consider this book YA-adult because of the content and overall feel. It tries to be more YA with some of the dialogue (which I found mostly annoying). The MC in the modern day storyline is a 15 year old male who has believable moodiness and a hard time accepting the "fairytale" aspects of what's going on around him. But, the perspective changes from one character to another all the time, and only one other character is a teenager. Everyone else is an adult. So maybe half or more of the book isn't from a YA perspective. I'm not sure that teens would especially love this book unless they love fairytales/retellings. But I don't think it's straight up Adult either.
Overall, a fun read! Surprisingly unique and elaborate in how it went in directions I hadn't expected and brought it all back together so nicely at the end. Also, like I said, the characters weren't caricatures. There was a lot of depth and duality, especially with the more important ones. Hansel was probably my fav. The book is just about as much about him as it was Enzo, the MC.
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Genre: YA Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling
Recommended Age: 13+ (some strong language) the
Favorite Quote: "Of course not!Read more