Friday, October 9, 2020

Review - Wishful Thinking

Original Title: Wishful Thinking
Series: Wish, 2
Author: Alexandra Bullen
Published: April 1st, 2011

Publisher: Point


Ok, what to say about this companion novel?

It’s nice, and lovely, but it’s definitely enough. I don’t think the concept of magical dresses that grant wishes to lonely girls could be exploited any further, so I’m glad the author stopped the series with this one. I was hoping to find a book that would be better than the previous one, and in the end, I found them to be rather similar. That is why it is a solid three GoodReads stars to me. Not terrible, but not amazing, either. An okay read.

Overall, Wishful Thinking is a book focused on family and friendship, in the context of time travel, which, honestly, isn’t the best I’ve ever read. At first, I thought, how come no one notices that Hazel is dressed differently, and has this camera that obviously is not from the present time, but then I thought, no one is going to say “this girl came from the future”, so I’ll let it sly. But, I do question Rosanna’s instant trust in her, hiring her without inquiring anything about her past, or her family, or even her last name? Later she says she never believed what Hazel said, about her parents being traveling in Europe, but it was weird that she never asked anything about the real story. Like, ok, she wouldn’t pry on things that were not her business, but before hiring someone who came out of nowhere, and bringing her to live in your property, you should find out a thing or two about her, don’t you think?

One of the things I liked the most about Hazel was that she has photography as a well-defined passion in her life, instead of spending the whole book whining about how sad her life has been. Just like Rosanna tells her, she had a lot of potential even before knowing it, a way to find beauty in unexpected places, which is, at the end of the day, some sort of survival mechanism in a life in which happiness is so scarce. That is well done, because, even with strangers that weren’t from her own time and place, Hazel was able to find her own value and recognize parts of herself she always took for granted, but were what made her special.

As for the others characters, my favourite was, actually Rosanna Scott, with her passion for art and her decision of not letting her sickness determine her decisions. Jaime, Reid and Luke weren’t really of my liking, specially Reid, because of his attitude when he knew about the pregnancy, immediately abandoning both Jaime and her baby, and ditching the responsibility for his actions. He wasn’t really the father Hazel deserved. As for Jaime, I think she was the most realistic character in the book, because all her reactions were understandable. Scared upon finding out about the baby, not knowing what to do about it, going back and forth between keeping it, or giving it away for adoption… It’s a natural reaction to an unplanned, teen pregnancy. Just, the outcome isn’t very clear, because, at one point, Jaime tells Hazel she will keep her baby, but when she returns to the present, she hasn’t kept her word, because nothing has changed since she left.

The romance was really not for me. I’m never into insta-love, and this is not exception. I honestly didn’t care about it, since they jumped into love at the two months of knowing each other, and if we think about it, Hazel had told Luke absolutely NOTHING about herself. And I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that you can say you love someone you virtually don’t know, and after such a short time. So, no, this just didn’t work for me.

The ending was bittersweet, I really was left wanting a reunion, once Hazel found out who Jaime was, and that she had another child, her half-sister. I would have loved to read about Jaime’s reaction when Hazel told her “I’m your daughter”, but it never happened. Plus, just like it happened with Wish, I think the whole book would have benefited from a first-person narrative instead of the third-person, to live the experience along with Hazel, in a more personal way.

I think the overall message of this book is good. Hazel didn’t have a happy life, moving from one foster home to another, without really belonging anywhere, but her experience teaches her a valuable lesson. Even when it’s not easy nor nice to learn that you were an unwanted baby, it’s important to know that who your parents were doesn’t have to determine who you are, that finding yourself and giving value to your own talents and passions, it’s still worthy, and that your past doesn’t have to determine your future. Plus, Hazel learns to value those who were there in her life, instead of constantly suffering for those who weren’t –or wouldn’t–, like Wendy, her dead foster mom, who saw her dream of having a child come true when she adopted her, but couldn’t enjoy it for long, and Roy, who didn’t have to take care of her, but did it, anyway.

So, I guess it was a good book, even when it could have been better. Overall, I liked the concept of Posey and the magical dresses, but I would have liked to know more about both. Yet, I think the charm lies in not knowing everything, and letting the magic flow.

Do I recommend the duology? Yes. It’s great for those fairytale fans and contemporary fantasy, even when it’s not perfect. It’s a nice read to pass the time, and they will keep you entertained for a little while.


Thanks for reading!
See you soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Review - Wish

Original Title: Wish
Series: Wish, 1
Author: Alexandra Bullen
Published: April 1st, 2010

Publisher: Point


Here we are, again with a book that was never on my TBR. I guess I was just curious, and in need of a fairytale, and that’s why I went for this one. And what can I say? It’s an ok story. Not the best ever, but not a complete disaster, either. The first thing I thought when I finished it was that it definitely lacked a certain spark that would have made it better.

One of the most prevalent aspects of this book is its narration, which I often thought, was poorly chosen. Even when the grieving aspect is well written, and the portrayal of the brokenhearted Larsen family, trying to move on after their terrible loss, is realistic, with both parents trying to unsuccessfully drown their pain in work, I still think that the third-person narrative was not the best way to go. If instead we could have been in Olivia’s mind, through a first-person narrative, her raw experience through loss and emotional swings would have been a lot more intense, and would have felt more as a personal journey than a mere plot device to justify their moving to San Francisco (not that it is, though).

For me, the best character in this book was definitely Violet, the dead twin. Through the wish Olivia makes while wearing the magical dress, she’s allowed to come back as a ghost, and immediately, you can tell her personality is completely different from her sister’s. And I think it was lacking in that aspect, as Olivia felt, more often than not, really flat as a character, without enough depth as for me to believe she could actually be a real person. That’s why I liked Violet better, as she is strong and direct, never feels sorry for herself, always takes the lead, and is virtually the driving force that leads Olivia to change her life and start to move on, finding her own self in a life in which she mostly depended on her sister to make decisions. Violet was the risk taker in opposition to the careful, restrained Olivia. Yet, I think the sisterly bond is really well written, and I liked how, by the end, Violet is the one who pushes Olivia to be herself, and find her own identity, separated from the life they had together before the tragedy.

As for the romance, I really didn’t care a lot about it. It felt a little forced, because Olivia falls for Soren without even really knowing him. I liked that he was the listening kind of guy, and that he had the nice gesture of taking her to see the stars, thinking it would make her happy. But we never really get a real reason why he suddenly breaks his solid, year-long relationship with Calla –a person who has done nothing wrong and is actually very nice to Olivia–, for a girl he has known for a couple of weeks and is in the middle of a terrible grieving process. It makes no sense. At one point, Olivia asks him what is that he likes about her, but the answer is vague and not very believable, and I was left really unfazed by their relationship, not really caring if it worked out, or not. Plus, it felt really out of place that, in one moment, Olivia is thinking that she doesn’t belong and never will in her new world, and not two paragraphs later, as she talks to Soren, she suddenly feels she does. What?

Also, at certain points, I honestly didn’t know where the plot was going, as it felt like it was rambling on and on without really leading somewhere. Although it was obvious that Violet would be gone by the end of the book, in general, she was the most interesting character, because none of the others had much of a personality. In many cases, I could have taken them out of the story, without disrupting the plot. Like the girls, Lark and Bowie. Or Miles, who’s intervention only helps to solidify the metaphor from Virginia Woolf’s book, in which the protagonist finishes her painting and moves on, as a reflection of Olivia herself. Even though I think this symbolism could have been introduced without bringing yet another character to the plot, I still think it’s well done. Just as Woolf’s character, Olivia feels she’s nothing without her sister, but not having her anymore is what has to push her to build her own life, separated from Violet’s personality. She needs to close that chapter of her life –a.k.a, finish the painting–, even if she thinks the grieving process will last forever, at the end of the day, it’s necessary to unstuck herself and continue living her own life.

As for Olivia’s parents, I think their portrayal was realistic, and well done. Doing their best to hide their pain after their loss is a natural, self-protective reaction, but I kind of hated that they didn’t seem to remember they had another daughter that needed them, and was in as much pain as them, having not only lost her sister, but also having been uprooted from everything she knew, leaving her life behind to start anew. Some family therapy was immediately needed there, no doubt. But I liked that, by the end, the family didn’t try to hide their pain anymore, choosing, instead, to do their best to remember Violet with love and joy, even if losing her was terribly painful. It’s never easy to go through such processes, but the way is described is honestly well done, for a children’s book.

And, finally, I would have really liked to know more about Posey and her grandmother, and their unusual ability to sew magical dresses. It’s definitely interesting, as it speaks of a parallel world of magic I would like to know better. Still, the fact that we do not know much about them helps to create this mysterious aura around them, so that way, it’s nicely done.

So, in short, it’s a lovely book, but it definitely could have been better. I will read the next one in the duology, and I just hope it’s good.

Thank you for reading!
See you soon!