Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2013
YA Fantastical Contemporary
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I must give credit to Heather from The Flyleaf Review (review linked below) for her beautifully enthusiastic review of this book, which totally prepped me for the book by sharing about her art history background, something I do not possess. While I like looking at paintings, I do not have that passion for them that others have and can use the additional knowledge and love.
Julien loves art and realizes how fortunate he is to be able to roam the halls of the Musee d'Orsay after hours due to his mother's position there. In turn she appreciates his keen eyesight that catches possible sun damage before anyone else. His knowledge is uncanny and his talents are even rarer as he realizes that he can bring paintings to life, including the enchanting young woman in a recently rediscovered Renoir painting. Unfortunately he also starts seeing paintings around the world start to break down and he must race against time and his own desires to restore the art for the world's enjoyment.
Honestly the premise for this book is a bit weird-I mean, paintings coming to life? But Julien's love of the artwork is so real and compelling that it is easy to follow again. I mean, if I stopped to think about it, I'd find it quite bizarre but while reading, I was just swept away. Are most teenagers that interested in art (even French ones)? Probably not but I did like how he has this unique passion and the means and determination to follow it. Julien learns some pretty interesting things about himself over the course of this book that will definitely shape his future.
However the two parts that stay with me most don't really have anything to do with him. For example, my favorite parts were definitely Julien's interactions with a young ballet dancer-he can hear music coming from her, signs of her future career. As a musician, it is probably not surprising that those sections resonated so strongly with me especially because the referenced music is incredibly famous. My other lingering impression from this book is that Renoir is kind of a jerk-a sexist elitist jerk and I don't like him much. He does not come off well for sure and the parts that annoyed me the most are confirmed in the author's note as being true.
Unfortunately there is a romance and not just between Julien and art in general. No it is with that girl in the painting, Clio. Clio has been stuck there for years and that seems to have worn away her personality as in she didn't have much of one. I understand that she's beautiful but I need a bit more to get on board a train of human and painted creation, you know? So the romance is where this book really lost its luster for me as well as how the chapters leading up to the ending sort of dragged. This would also be an instance of a book where I did not want a traditional happy ever after and the path that this book took was too far away from what I wanted and expected to happen, leaving me dissatisfied about that.
Overall: Though my rating is on the positive side, I do find this book a bit slow and was very unhappy with the way the romance was handled. Still if you enjoy lightly magical stories and have an appreciation for art, this may be something you'd enjoy.
Cover: I feel like the cover is a bit cheesy (why yes it *is* set in Paris) but I've heard lovely things about the book in print so I'd like the chance to glimpse that for myself.
A Reader of Fictions
Alexa Loves Books
In Bed with Books
Into the Hall of Books
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
The Flyleaf Review