Thursday, October 25, 2012

Puppet Parade by Zeinab Alayan

Title: Puppet Parade
Author: Zeinab Alayan
Length: 8039 Kindle units
Rating: 4.5 stars

The Plot

Sophie and Oliver each makes a wish on the same star on the same night and is entirely unprepared for the consequences. Sophie, who has spent her life locked in her room by an evil stepmother, wishes to be free. Oliver, a solitary puppeteer whose wooden creations are his only friends, wishes that his puppets would come to life. He didn’t realize, though, that his puppets would immediately abandon him. So he runs off into the night to chase them and on the way meets Sophie, who is only too happy join him on his quest to find his friends. But the path to the puppets is not the one that either of them was expecting.

The Good

I feel the best way to present this is give a chronological history of my experience with the book.

When I first got the review request, I was on the fence about whether I wanted to read it. I decided on yes mostly because of information in the request indicating that the book had received positive reviews. When I got the file and saw how long the book was, I instantly regretted my decision to read it. But I persevered and made sure I cleared up a few extra days to read it.

So I start reading it, and it gets off to an interesting start, talking about Sophie being locked in her room. The writing is good and clear. Then we go to Oliver and discover that his only friends are wooden puppets. This struck me as odd-in-a-bad-way, and I am someone who has regular telephone calls with a stuffed tiger (Don’t ask). Then the puppets run away, and Oliver and Sophie run to catch them on the train, and the first place they end up is a town where everyone is religious. At this point, I accepted that the book was just going to be a bizarre farce that I didn’t get. Then they go to another town, where everyone is an entertainer, and I realized that the themed towns were part of the plot.

That was about the point that I realized that Puppet Parade was AWESOME. And I continued to feel that way for the rest of the book. The book was interesting and original. I loved the plot. I loved the progression. I loved the puppets. (Monte the Meek Monster was my fav.)

The Bad

As you can probably tell from the above, Puppet Parade was very odd. This is not bad in and of itself, but if you like your books well inside the norm, this one might be a bit too far out there, even for a fantasy novel. And it definitely takes some time to get into.

The story is very episodic, as Sophie and Oliver travel to different towns searching for different puppets. I think that I would have done some of the scenes in a different order. Some of them toward the end felt like they weren’t telling us anything we didn’t already know but that would have been very effective earlier in the story.

The Romance

The story is about two otherwise unattached young people of opposite sexes going on a trip together, so it is inevitable that a romance will spring up between them. But, really, the romance is tertiary to everything else going on in the story. Which is actually good, because a strong romance would have been problematic for reasons that are discussed as each of the characters considers the other.

Will I read more?

I am pretty certain that this is a stand-alone novel, as I can’t imagine where it would go from here. And I have some fear that this is a single work of genius that can never be repeated by the author. But if I hear of the author putting out another book, I will probably pick it up and give it a try.

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