Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Review - The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June / Robin Benway

Three sisters share a magical, unshakable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.

Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood. Goodreads.

Review - Robin Benway's sophomoric release manages to admiringly tackle an area of life swept over in YA - the push and pull of siblings.  She has done so marvellously in the rapid fire, mood switching dialogue and simultaneous understanding and derision of one another. Their words are their swords and their feathers - bring each other to tears of hurt or laughter.  Amazingly strong words that work effortlessly to establish the characters as independent beings and the connections between one another.

The three tier perspective method used is also very effective in distinguishing each girl through their unique voice and view of the world.  It is how alternating perspectives should be used in literature - to shade in characters, to overlap incidences, to establish intent, to create full characters that breathe.

And yet....there's magic.  Or should I say special powers?  This is where the story becomes much less cohesive.  The main arc revolves around the discovery of their unique talents in relation to the magical mystery that is hinted at throughout.  It is just that the mystery is one heck of a climatic flop. I actually found myself completely disengaged with that facet of the narrative for most of the story which was enormously disappointing.

As for the romantic front - there was one.  Or should I say two?  One was delightfully snarky, barbed and my favourite variations on snappy dialogue.  The other one didn't really work and seemed to come to a head with no real event other than a convenience of plot and a need to iterate what the boy wore.  It's perplexing that one writer developed two romances with such varying degrees of success.

Despite my concerns about a cohesiveness born of a thin plot, this book is entertaining and will appeal to anyone with the unfortunate pleasure (or just pleasure) to have sisters.  Audrey, Wait! was an outstanding debut and while Benway didn't equal it with this effort, she did establish herself as an author with a unique voice and a fantastic grasp of dialogue.  A fun read.

Published: August 2010
Format: Paperback, 282 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: publisher
Origin: USA


Peaceful Reader said...

I love the cover and your review is glowing-I'll have to put this on my list.

Alexander Bennett (Tales of a Teenage Book Lover) said...

I can't wait to read this one!

Liviania said...

I'm going to assume you liked the Henry romance and not the Julian one.

Adele said...

Weirdly, no.

Jordyn said...
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Jordyn said...
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Jordyn said...
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Jordyn said...

Am I the only person who didn't like AUDREY, WAIT, but loved (loved LOVED) this one? Ha. Probably.

I did feel the same way you did about the romances... while I absolutely loved Julian and April's romance, the plot between Henry and May seemed a bit contrived and I wasn't into it.

Tina said...

I loved Audrey Wait!, so this is in my list, too. I already read the Kindle sample, and I'm so curious to know what happens next. Curious, curious. :)