Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Pilgrims of the Sky, by Natania Barron

After Maddie's fiancé, Alvin, disappeared, she tries to disentangle herself from Alvin's family and makes the heart-breaking decision to move away from his mother and his endearingly broken-minded brother.  A box of books, a guilt trip, and an unwilling favor later, she's sharing bodies with Matilda in the Second world.

Huh?

Pilgrims of the Sky had many strengths.  My favorite part of the book is the vivid way Barron paints the other worlds.  I applaud Barron's vision, especially considering the fact that I have the artistic skills of a third grader and the descriptive vocabulary to match.  She manages to make the setting interesting without spending too much time on description.

My favorite character was Randy, a special man that reminded me of several of my students in a very charming way.  The cast of characters was quite large, and the difficulty of developing them was apparent.  I saw why the cast had to be so large, but it did make keeping names straight rather difficult for me.  I have a terrible memory for names, especially ones that are similar.  It's so bad that my students that I've had for a long while feel obligated to warn new kids that it's not that I don't care, it's that my memory card is made of swiss cheese.

The stakes for the main characters were deep, and the motivations clear, so I really had only small complaints about the book.  One:  there were a few sex scenes that were a little more hinky than I usually like.  That's a personal opinion, and obviously everyone has their own tastes and tolerances.  Two:  (SPOILER ALERT!)  the climax of the conflict really boiled down to "love conquers all," which made it slightly anticlimactic.  There were surprises, of course, but fiction that really floats my boat has some sort of deep, deep meaning, and the whole "love conquers all" thing has been done.  A lot.  In perspective, though, it's a pretty minor complaint.  I loved the book, and hope you do, too.

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