- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- Lexile Measure: 370L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 6, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416935851
- ISBN-13: 978-1416935858
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,396,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mercury Hardcover – April 6, 2010
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*Starred Review* Larson (Chiggers, 2008) won an Eisner Award for Special Recognition in 2007 and is establishing an oeuvre of thoughtful, girl-centric graphic novels that often feature touches of unobtrusive fantasy, lending a dreamy quality that helps characterize her distinctive storytelling style. Mercury tells two tales: one of Josey, who lives in a small Canadian town in 1859; and the other of her descendant, Tara, who has returned to the same town in 2009, a year after her house burned to the ground. Tenth-grader Tara’s burgeoning relationships and her difficulty reacclimating to her old school will be more identifiable than Josey’s forbidden courtship with itinerant prospector Asa, but the use of two time lines delineates the different eras’ outlooks on family and romance, which brings some immutable human truths into high relief. The gentle dose of magic realism doesn’t feel incongruous and underscores the powerful ways in which past touches present. The insights unfold leisurely, but patient readers will find themselves deeply invested. Comparisons to Craig Thompson’s Blankets (2003) wouldn’t be inappropriate, but Larson continues to perfect her own unique style and offers something the graphic format is sadly short on: a coming-of-age story for girls. Grades 9-12. --Jesse Karp
*"Larson continues to perfect her own unique style and offers something the graphic format is sadly short on: a coming-of-age story for girls." –Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
*"The storytelling, both in words and pictures, brilliantly offers details from Canadian history and modern life. The dialogue varies from funny to poignant. An excellent graphic novel.” --School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
*"Lost treasure, mother love and misbegotten romance form the bases of this richly rewarding intergenerational graphic novel. . . . Larson skillfully maintains suspense . . . Classic themes of love, family, betrayal and renewal combine to create multilayered historical fiction that perfectly illustrates how the past continues to influence the present." --Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
"Larson's greatest strength is in artfully depicting the small but telling moments of adolescence. Beautiful black-and-white interior illustrations, touches of magical realism and a spot-on ear for teen dialogue make this a great pick for tweens and young teens." --Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf
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There's an element of ghosts or spirits in the book and mystical occurrences which I always find to be lots of fun. I also loved the interplay between the past and the present. The author flipped back and forth between the two stories very frequently, which normally annoys me, but worked perfectly for this book. Overall, I'd recommend this to those who like graphic novels, elements of the supernatural, and historical fiction - a quick fun read!
First of all the artwork, the style is fine but I felt like there were only 1-2 templates the people were drawn from, and without powerful characterization I often found myself double checking who everyone was. Given that the story seemed to rely heavily on meaningful looks and emotional expressions this didn't gel well.
Second the story was worthy, but I felt lacked real tension. The basic premise centers around an old-timey gold-rush era family and a modern family and their various trials. On an intellectual level the tales were linked well and should have made sense, but between the complaint above and little to alert the reader which time-span you were in I often found myself having to check the characters clothing to remind myself which story I was in. The old-time family probably held more drama as we see a family react to the appearance of a charming but suspicious stranger, and I could see what the story of the modern family was portraying but I felt it was a little flat. I'll probably have to use some SPOILERS to explain so...
SPOILERS AHEAD sorry
The story is basically about a young teenage heroine, who has to live with friends(relatives) due to tough circumstances, the tension is meant to sit with her families lack of income and the likelihood of having to move to another town so her mother can work, but she is settling in 'French Hill' and even has a boyfriend (ooooo). The story is wound up when our MC magically discovered a sack of gold (which was lost/hidden in the old-timey story). Anyway my problem with all this is not so much the details (as I mentioned intellectually its a good story) its more that the narrative didn't make me feel it, most of her story-line seemed just seemed to follow a hard done by teenager, sure moving away from your boyfriend sucks but it never really felt that bad (especially compared to the historic tale)
There was an awesome blurt of supernatural towards the end, which was really cool but probably underused and not really explained (it was probably deep cultural metaphoric stuff lost on an idiot like me but whatever) but I think ultimately Mercury could have thrived better as a fleshed out novel or with more story arc.
The contrasts between the stories, and the question of gold, gives Mercury a good amount of tension. The historical story is taut with hints of supernatural and tinged with superstition--ghosts, visions, curses. Josey is hopeful and willfully ignores the subtle warnings. Meanwhile, Tara's story plays out against a very normal, almost banal modern backdrop. She's already lost a lot of hope for the future, but she is continually drawn to the rumors of her family's past and what happened in 1859, and the necklace that unites the two stories. Larson doesn't answer all of the readers' questions about the story, but the climax certainly delivers on all that it promises. Mercury is subtly creepy and memorable.