I had not heard anything about this series, but the synopsis was too good to pass up. One of my favorite twisted author of retold children’s stories is Jasper Fforde and his Nursery Crimes series. Seriously folks – you will NOT stop laughing from beginning to end, even as you are puzzling out just who can solve the crimes, and I was hoping for a lighter youthful approach from this book. Fortunately I was not disappointed, in fact I was smiling and laughing out loud often. Shannon Hale has managed to take some serious issues: destiny versus free will, preconceived stereotypes, personal growth and the value of being kind and taught everyone a lesson without sounding preachy, moralistic or even going over the top with the dramatics. And that would be an easy step to take – since we are dealing with the teenaged offspring of the fairy tale and children’s lit characters we all know.
There are several new and creatively named characters Apple White, Cerise Hood who demands she be called Cedar, Raven Queen – all named in reference to their more famous parent, and all expected to follow their destiny: to be good or bad depending on their parentage.
But not everyone agrees with this. Apple is the co-president of the class with Raven. Apple has her group of supporters – The Royals, who are all comfortable with the status quo, and don’t understand why anyone would want things to change. A little narrow-minded and sheep-like in their adherence to the old ways, the Royals are also scared to death of the consequences: if people change their destinies, perhaps things won’t be in their favor anymore. Raven leads the group of dissidents, The Rebels, who cannot believe that they are being forced to assume their destinies with no chance of choosing differently. The Rebels are far less rebellious and far more thoughtful than anyone gives them credit for, and several, including Cerise / Cedar have specific and logical reasons for wanting a choice.
While the groundwork is laid for a West Side Story-like battle, the real struggles come from the kids themselves, as they have to learn to articulate their own reasons for their choices, and explain those choices to the people they have known all their lives. Mixing in some real growth for the characters and the lessons they are all learning, this story has the potential to go preachy and dull really quickly. BUT, horrendously hokey jokes, fun and unique insertions of nursery rhyme elements, quirky minor characters and some truly clever interactions loaded with puns bring this book’s fun quotient up several notches, and has you wondering just what a day in the brain of this author is like.
I did, however, review the AudioBook version of this story, and Kathleen McInerney did a wonderful job voicing the characters and presenting us with characters who actually sounded as they were described: a touch of valley-girl, some cloying sweetness, a touch of edge, even that peculiar ennui particular to teens everywhere when they utter “whatever”. Her narration was a delightful addition to the story, and I am looking forward to the next in the series.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4
Title: The Unfairest of Them All
Author: Shannon Hale
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Published by: Hachette Audio
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 6 Hours: 37 minutes
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It's the aftermath of Legacy Day, the day when the students at Ever After High are supposed to pledge to follow in their fairytale parents' footsteps, and everyone is in a huff and a puff! Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, has refused to sign the Storybook of Legends, rejecting her story--and putting everyone else's in jeopardy.
The Royal Apple White doesn't want to think Raven is being a rebellious pain, but Raven's choice means Apple might never get the poisoned apple, Prince Charming, and a kingdom to rule. Behind Apple stands the Royals, those who want to play by the book and embrace their stories. The Rebels, supporters of Raven, believe in breaking free from destiny and writing their own stories.
But when the chaos and rivalry land wonderlandiful Madeline Hatter in trouble, Raven and Apple must bring the Royals and the Rebels together to shut the book on their feud before it threatens to end all of their Happily Ever Afters once and for all.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...Who'e the Unfairest of Them All?
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.