Monday, August 13, 2012

Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace by Jonathan Friesen

This book says it's juvenile fiction. Ignore that and read this book anyway. This isn't some shallow and/or saccharine book, it's a tightly written book suitable for everyone.

The book centers around Chloe, a girl who, due to a tragic accident, is permanently scarred. Due to her scars, she's teased. And then she meets Nick, the new boy at school, who also happens to be blind. What normally happens is that the two outcasts become friends, and then go on an adventure together where they build up their friendship and learn to accept themselves.

Well, this book is not like that.

Nick, for one thing, isn't a very pleasant character. He does undergo a character change, but it happens fairly late in the book. In fact, for the first few chapters, you don't seen any friendship developing, just a grudging tolerance of each other. In fact, if it wasn't for Nick's screenplay, Chloe and Nick wouldn't have talked as much as they did.

And when we do get into the magical world, both kids go their own way. It's clear that they have their own journey to undergo and anyway, Nick is the one who chooses to leave (due to his self-imagined superiority). Surprisingly, this works. Chloe and Nick are reunited later, but in the meantime, the reader can focus on Chloe's growth; and Chloe grows a lot.

As a main character, Chloe is wonderful. She's still hurting from the accident, and while the book is about her overcoming her hurt, it's not done in a predictable way. Chloe's journey is fascinating and endearing. I was rooting for her the whole way.

The world building is fantastic. The normal world is familiar to us, but populated with interesting characters. The magical world in this book is original, and has hidden depths to it. I would say more, but I think I gave enough of the book away.

In short, if you like fantasy, you should definitely read this book. It's suitable for all ages, but don't let it's age categorisation mislead you. It's got depths to it that didn't appear to me at first gland.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.

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