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Girlgoyle Paperback – May 6, 2015
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"...a book about moving on, remembering the past, and beating the odds in a fashion that is so well done it deserves to be a beloved beginning to what can only be a fantastic series."
--San Diego Book Review
"In this coming-of-age YA novel, a young girl named Tiffany Noboru must navigate the afterlife, battling personal and real demons along the way. While some of Tiffany's inner monologue is stilted, the prose is solid and the cast of characters interesting, engaging, and well developed -- and this propels the story forward."
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Firstly, this is a YA novel and my criteria for judging those is fairly straightforward and three-pronged. First and foremost, I ask myself if there’s anything in the book that I would not want my own children to read or be exposed to. I have absolutely zero tolerance for sexual or drug references and this book has none of that. In fact the only thing I can find of even remote concern is some light non-graphic violence and exactly one profanity in the use of the phrase “p***ed off”. So this is a clean one for all but the youngest and most sensitive children who might have difficulty with the fight scenes.
Secondly, I ask myself if the book offers anything positive for the reader. In this case, it’s not effervescing with positive themes but it’s not entirely devoid of them. During the course of the book the female protagonist deals positively with and overcomes her own misgivings about her body and manages to overcome her initial misgivings about a group of girls that she had initially had difficulty with. There are strong themes of reconciliation and cooperation and shows the reader a good example of building trust. It also teaches the key idea of not judging people based on their appearances.
Thirdly, and most importantly to the reader, will it entertain them? I’d say the answer is a resounding positive. I pulled through the book in a few hours without difficulty and it has an early hook and brings you along quite steadily throughout the story. The 14-year-old female protagonist is relatable, kind and she finds herself in a varied and unique situation with engaging characters who are both friend and foe. I can easily imagine this as a prolonged series as the heroine develops into a woman.
The only negatives I can cite about the book I relate to overall story cohesion. At times the story makes reference to previous points in the story that just don’t exist. It feels as if the story was cut down from a longer version and in doing so lost some hunk of the story. I cannot prove that, of course, but in a few instances the text calls back to previous stories and plot points that just never happened. This is a fairly minimal concern, however, since context wins the day and one can make assumptions around the missing bits.
In summary, I was thoroughly entertained and the book is a positive one for the target audience. The plotline seems to be a mix of “Dead Like Me” and a standard youth exceptionalism tale like “Harry Potter”. I’m excited to see where the series goes from here.
PS: I hope my review was helpful. If it was not, then please let me know what I left out that you’d want to know. I always aim to improve.
Tiffany Noboru is your typical determined, family loving, yet insecure girl with the usual ups and downs . . . except for the fact that she's dead. That's right! Tiffany was unjustly murdered by a sinister ghost by the name of Bones. Stripped from our world one night in a sudden act of malice, Tiffany awakens from death in a new world where all is like nothing she has ever seen before. To make matters even more confusing for Tiffany, massive wings have sprouted from her back. People around her are just as peculiar. Some individuals have wings, some have tails, some have both wings and tails, and some have neither of these assets. Certain individuals have skin like marble, as well, in all different types of colors. Welcome to the land of the gargoyles!
Now the clumsy Tiffany must learn how to fly, fit in with those her own age in her appointed housing unit, deal with the loss of never getting to see her family again, and come to terms with her own tragic demise. Then, Franklin comes into the picture. Franklin is Tiffany's instructor who is to help her learn the ways of the gargoyles, their history, and how to fight. Oh, and now she's being drafted into the Gargoyle Ghost Hunter Corps. The gargoyles have been given the duty to protect the human world by hunting the ghosts who terrorize it, which they have been doing dutifully for years. Franklin is one of the best of the best at hunting ghosts, and when Bones is the new target for him, things get a little chaotic. This ancient ghost has a driving desire to destroy the gargoyle world.
Tiffany thought her old life could be complicated! Will she find a way to fit in with her new peers? Can this young girl ever find a way to contact her loving parents on the other side? Is Bones going to destroy the gargoyles forever? Or is someone going to step up to the plate and destroy him once and for all? Tiffany has lots on her mind, and one of these many thoughts is figuring out how to keep Bones from killing her again. So, if you want to figure out what happens, pick up a copy of Girlgoyle and find out!
Together, C and I have read several books by Better Hero Army, and we have two things to say about him. The first being that this book proves he is easily competent of being a diverse writer who can pen for all different ages, as well as explore all different genres with great detail and description. Secondly, he never disappoints us! Each and every one of his novels is a work of art that we love to delve into, exploring every little detail.
Girlgoyle was an original, fantasy/paranormal read that was chock-full of fascinating characters, possessing various, defining personalities and backgrounds, especially Tiffany who was of Japanese descent. On top of this, the world building was absolutely beautiful. The settings in this book, particularly where the gargoyles live, were skillfully portrayed. (Our favorite was the secret garden!) His fluid writing allowed us to easily depict and portray scenes in our mind's eye without confusion.
Tiffany, the main protagonist, was a delight to read about. We both connected with her in a special way for several reasons. To start off with, she was clumsy and awkward but still strong-willed which we could easily identify with. It's the story of our lives, in fact! Also, while it was not an entirely huge part of the novel, the sense of family/friendship between Tiffany and her parents and eventually Tiffany and Franklin, was extremely touching. Family comes in all different shapes and sizes, and Better Hero Army did an excellent job of painting that.
Also, we were interested to see just how the gargoyle universe differed from our own world, and we were happy to see that there was an equal balance between the supernatural elements unknown to Tiffany and yet a norm that could be translated between her old life and her new one. For example, the girls that Tiffany had to room with are just like the ones you'd meet in any other setting. Some are rude, judgmental, meddlesome, and cruel while others are caring, shy, and friendly. It definitely felt like something that was universal for teens, something that everyone could understand or relate too, especially because of high school.
Several other notable qualities incorporated into this novel were determination, courage, and dedication, all simulated by Tiffany herself. Yes, she was not the most coordinated individual, but she still practiced her flying even when people called her out on how horrible she was at it. It's true that she was small and awkward, but her bravery made her seem larger than life. It's also undeniable that she was forever separated from her family, but she still stayed dedicated to them and thought about them often.
Of course, we can't leave you without mentioning the twenty wonderful illustrations by Miimork. They expressed a manga-like feel that the two of us absolutely fell in love with! There's no denying how much Christian and I are obsessed with manga and anime. Miimork, to us at least, was slightly reminiscent of the exquisite Kazue Kato (Blue Exorcist). Miimork's illustrations presented a spectacular opportunity for us, as readers, to see the story come to life on an entirely different level!
The action and adventure packed into this book is plentiful and sure to keep MG and YA readers satisfied as they rip right through it. We hope that everyone can see what a crowd-pleaser that this book actually is. Better Hero Army wowed us yet again! This author has promising talent that you just have to check out! He set up Gargoyle so that it could open up an entire world of possibilities for sequels that we can't wait to hear about.
Please note that a free copy of this book was given to us by the author in exchange for an honest review. However, this in no way influenced our thoughts or review. Our opinions are our own. Saying that, we would like to say thank you to the author for the opportunity to review his book.
Tiffany has died and woken up as a gargoyle. She has to learn to fly with her new pair of wings which is very difficult for her, especially the landing. Her quest is to find Bones, the ghost who killed her and stop him from killing anyone else. With the help of her friends and her mentor she ends up having thrilling adventures as she looks for Bones.