Thursday, May 3, 2012
Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't really sure what this book was about when I requested it but I am interested in the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame even though my only experience with it is watching the Disney movie, which is quite...um...different, let's just say.
The cool factor was immediately apparent when it turns out that the main characters can bring forth a character from a book, in this case Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame. The tension emerges as the kids want to give Quasi a better ending than what he endures in the book, from the fact that Frollo also emerges from the book and has his own sinister plan for Quasimodo, and from a pending flood in their town.
While I liked the story concept, I did not get along well with the writing. It is told from the perspective of an outsider, someone who did not participate in the events of the story but who is friendly with the children and knows what happened. However that narrator has a giant chip on his shoulder from the snobby professors who look down on his work as a janitor and his writing includes definitions of his words. It reminded me of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events except I found it annoying. Younger readers (the target audience) may enjoy it more but I found it grating.
I also didn't find the characters very memorable. As I write this, I know it was about twins who make a new friend and the three of them are clever and sweet kids. But Ophelia and Linus, no matter how nice they are, weren't standout characters to me. I remember Quasimodo much better, as the patient humble man who does what he can.
Overall: Cool concept but a little easy for me; I think I would have enjoyed this more if I was younger. The next book looks really interesting; they're tackling Moby Dick (these kids are very intimidating; I never could have dared to read MD when I was younger. I don't feel ready to tackle it now.)
Cover: Accurate! I also love the glow around Quasi while in the circle.