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The House on the Corner: First Person Edition Paperback – August 24, 2011
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So, I want to start off by saying something that is probably going to sound horrible (though I don't mean it to be) but it was a prevalent thought in my head at the start of this book, so I'm going to do it. This book made me glad I am just an aunt and not a parent because at the start of this book, the kids are annoying. That said, let me add that they're very well written because I know siblings are like that (fighting, arguing, squabbling, etc). I have three of my own (siblings) and we were like that growing up and we're occasionally still like that even though we're all in our thirties now.
Anyway, each chapter rotates between the three kids. At first I didn't realize the narrative had switched from Tom to Sam and spent a little time confused as to why Tom was referring to himself in the third person but then I caught on that the shifts were in order: Tom, Sam, Ruth until a switch to the third person POV near the end of the book. In the author's note following the story, he says scenes in between each chapter featuring the three kids arguing amongst themselves as they tell the story were cut because many of the adult readers found these scenes to be jarring. Without having read them, I have to say I likely would have found them jarring as well.
The story does start off slowly but I knew it would and so was fine with it. The action picks up with the chapter called "The Imagination Room". After that, it feels like a sprint to the end. I read a review of this book that called it "Speilbergian" which I found to be a perfect description. I believe the target audience is the young adult crowd (who will love it) but it will definitely appeal to adults-- especially 80's children with a love of Star Wars, Narnia, Dungeon & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, and the like.
On a totally personal level, I loved how he incorporated Shreveport, LA into the book. His descriptions were so well written, I felt like I was there.
And while Andrew Leon's novel is aimed at younger folk, it's certainly no Winnie the Pooh. Nor is it any kind of nursery tale. Despite the fact that 'House' is a fantasy, it's as real as real gets. The three heroes - siblings Tom, Sam and Ruth - behave like real kids. Which means they fight (a lot). I loved this. I've read way way too many books where the kids are all perfect angels (gak) and, having two boys of my own, I can tell you it's just baloney. Obviously Leon has kids of HIS own, or he vividly remembers what kid-life was like back in the day. To me, this is where 'House' really shines - the children's characters are fleshed out with distinct personalities. This means a lot because the vast majority of the book is told in first-person, with each of the children taking a turn telling chapters. Leon doesn't say "this chapter is told by Ruth" because it's immediately clear from his no-nonsense, detailed writing who is speaking. Ruth eats all the time and, if she's not eating, she's running all around the neighborhood at top speed, making room for the next meal. Sam, he's a practical boy and, as it turns out, a bit of a star. Tom's a deep pool of water, full of doubts, who is a hero despite what he thinks.
The kids, with their parents, move into a decrepit old house - which really makes me wonder about the parents. I mean, who in their right mind moves their family into the creepiest house in town? Haven't they seen any horror movies? Don't they know this is going to turn out badly?
Things don't turn out badly, per se - exciting is more like it. The kids discover a secret about the house, something to do with the "imagination room," and soon the whole family is involved in the adventure of their lives.
There are so many bad YA books out on the market. This is one of the good ones.
Even if it does make me think of that honey-obsessed little bear.
So through 40% of the book I kept waiting for there to be the bumps in the night and such that you would expect in a haunted house story. But then the book does a 180 from that and becomes more like "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." There becomes a lot of talk about fairies, Guardians, Towers, wizards, and a magic sword. Which is a little surprising because there are so many Star Wars references.
The book gets much more interesting once that stuff comes into play. Unfortunately at that point there's only 60% off. I think the author bit off more than he could chew at that point. It made for a rushed ending that wasn't extremely satisfying to me.
Also, the book is in dire need of a real editor. A lot of typos. Also, I'm not fond of authors who use the word "suddenly" a lot.
That is all.
Most recent customer reviews
So, I want to start off by saying something that is probably going to sound horrible (though I...Read more