Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1433
Does Not Read Like a Middle Grade Novel
(Updated: October 22, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
I finally finished! I had been so looking forward to a nice swift read. I mean, middle grade novels go so quickly. Not this one, mostly because I don't really think it's a middle grade novel at all, despite the publishers marketing of it to ages 8+. This book has been on my radar for ages because of my Decemberists obsession. My blog's name is even a paraphrase of a line from one of their songs. For those who don't know, Colin Meloy is the lead singer. While, I did like the book, I definitely prefer his music.

First, I must address my assertion that this does not strike me as a book for the average eight year old. While I am sure that some enterprising eight year olds might appreciate Wildwood, most would be exceedingly confused. Meloy uses eloquent, occasionally old-fashioned language, and I suspect that the book would be abandoned for lack of understanding. Few kids commit to books if a dictionary is required for comprehension. Some reviewers found the language overblown and thought it read as though Meloy had closely befriended a thesaurus during the novel's construction. I felt that it had a natural flow, but do still think it will scare away many readers. I just don't think a kids' book would use the word 'apocryphal' in the first couple of chapters without any explanation. There is also quite a bit of violence and animal death that might scar younger readers.

The plotting struck me as a cross between the cult classic Labyrinth and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The book opens with the theft of a much younger sibling from the daughter who spends a lot of time babysitting. Unlike Jennifer Connelly's character, Prue loves her baby brother and was not being particularly inattentive. A murder of crows swoops down and absconds with him before she can do anything, taking him off to the evil leader in the forest.

Prue wants to head after him immediately, but in an oddly rational move decides to wait for the morning, pretending to her parents that her brother is there and asleep. She ventures out early the next morning, leaves a note saying she and Mac, her brother, have gone for another bike ride, and sets off into the creepy forest (the Impassable Wilderness). She gains a companion in Curtis, the nerdy kid in class who won't stop drawing superheroes even though, at 12, he should be beyong that now. Curtis follows her, even when she orders him not to. This was a bit awkward, as there seemed little reason for him to be so concerned with accompanying her, other than perhaps desperation for friendship with someone.

Once in Wildwood, the two kids become embroiled in the political drama of this hidden world. The borders of the forest are supposed to prevent entry, but these kids are special, of course. Curtis and Prue are separated, when Curtis is captured by coyote soldiers. Prue continues on alone, now needing to rescue both her brother and classmate. As in Narnia, an evil ruler attempts to take over via nefarious plan. Also like Narnia, there are humans and talking, clothes-wearing animals living in company. At least there's no allegory in this one!

Sadly, the characters did not enliven the story either. They do an awful lot of monologuing and info-dumping. On top of that, people and animals lack depth. I just know so little even about Curtis and Prue, who I should know best. I know what they like to draw and how they react in crises. Did they have no other interests? There's a large cast and, while I was fairly entertained, I didn't care about any creature, human or otherwise.

What really ticked me off were the parents. First off, I find it highly suspect that, even when things were normal, Prue, age 12, spent all day watching her brother, and, not babysitting at home, but pulling him along in a red wagon behind her bike. Would parents really allow their baby to be out all day? Then, later, Prue does return for a little bit, and, when she says she's going back, they don't stop her or even try to go with her. What the hell is that? This isn't like Narnia where you've hardly missed any time. Parenting job #1: Do everything you can to protect your child. I just could not handle any of this.

Nothing felt especially original to me, but Wildwood was still entertaining. Given its length, though, only the most determined will likely make it through. I will be listening to the next one on audio, as it's narrated by Colin himself, and I hope for a bit more verve and innovation.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

1 results - showing 1 - 1
Ordering
Already have an account? or Create an account
March 19, 2013
I'm sad to hear you didn't like this one too much. I've heard good things so I was really looking forward to it. I'll probably still read it, but I'll lower my expectations a bit.
1 results - showing 1 - 1
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Monster Hypothesis
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome to Bohring-home to 453 people, 2,053 alligators, and one...
Where the World Ends
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Winner of the 2018 Carnegie Medal! New from Michael L....
Carnevil (Monsterstreet #3)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
“Fast, funny, frightening—and filled with shocks and surprises. These books...
Prophecy Untold (Shadow Realms book 3)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Finding out my mother was taken by the demons...
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this charming debut about first love and second...
Six Goodbyes We Never Said
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love,...
Golden Crown
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
No longer only a warrior. Not just a queen....
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The first vampire. The last Nephilim. The end...
The Galactic Adventures of Hazel - Gurecoa
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
What is it like to live in 4519 AD...
Batman: Nightwalker (The Graphic Novel)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
This action-packed graphic novel based on the New York...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventeen-year-old Rose Hemmersbach aspires to break out of small town...
Stuffed
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome, little one. You have been chosen to join us,...

Latest Member Reviews

Frankly in Love
 
4.7
"I love this book so much. I read it pretty much in one sitting because I couldn't put it down!..."
Where the World Ends
 
3.0
"WHERE THE WORLD ENDS is an intriguing historical fiction, based on a true story. The boys of Hirta are sent..."
Bury Me
 
4.7
"In horror books and movies, we often see dolls as the main source of scares( such as Annabelle or Child's..."
Juliet Takes a Breath
 
4.7
"Juliet Takes a Breath is a coming of age story about a Latina lesbian from the Bronx who travels to..."
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
5.0
"Fireborne is a fantasy novel set nine years after a bloody uprising against a brutal regime in which the poor..."
Jason & Kyra
 
N/A
"i am from Italy hello. Can you help me translate? /rardor"
The Galactic Adventures of Hazel - Gurecoa
 
3.0
"THE GALACTIC ADVENTURES OF HAZEL - GURECOA takes place in the far future, where our planet is only vaguely recognizable...."
Batman: Nightwalker (The Graphic Novel)
 
4.3
"BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER (THE GRAPHIC NOVEL) converts the YA novel by Marie Lu into graphic novel format. The plot remains the..."
Adorkable
 
5.0
"ADORKABLE is a book you can easily predict, but the journey is unbelievably delightful. Sally Spitz is a senior in..."
Six Goodbyes We Never Said
 
3.3
"SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID is quite a heavy YA contemporary. We follow Naima and Dew in alternating sections. Naima..."
Wilder Girls
 
4.7
" THIS WAS INCREDIBLE. This book reads like BUTTER...… Moldy, rotten, disgusting butter,..."
The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1)
 
4.0
"After killing a man in Paris, Celine is forced to flee to a different country and finds herself in New..."