Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

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Fan review of LOS

Post  fantastica on 3/24/2012, 6:52 pm

The following is taken from Porcelain Fans. A fan @SparkySparky had the fortune of getting an advanced copy so he/she(??) is doing a review of the book: source

Spoiler:
Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review

Let me start off by saying: not only do I love Christopher Colfer, fairy tales are my crack. I have at least half a dozen versions of Grimm's and Hans Christian Anderson, not to mention a wide collection of books based on fairy tales. I'm even planning to see Snow White and the Huntsman despite the presence of Kristen Stewart. So, no matter how hard I try to remain 100% objective about this book, my view is always going to be a little skewed just because of who I am.

That said, I was careful in this review to not only look at it as a lover of fairy tales but also as a children's bookseller, a teacher and a writer. I wanted to give a balanced, honest review because to do anything else would be an insult to my integrity, and to the integrity of Chris' book. So with all that in mind, here is my review.


Initial Impression: The book captured my attention immediately in the prologue, but lagged for the first two chapters. It picks up momentum again in the third chapter, and managed to keep my attention through the rest of the book. Despite the length (438 pages in the ARC) it's a quick read for an adult. Some kid's might balk at the length, but thanks to books like Harry Potter most kids these days like a longer book. And for those of you wondering about the font, it's the perfect size: not too big and not too small.

Plot: Avid reader's of YA & Children's literature will recognize the plot. Two young kids go on an adventure to escape something horrible in their real lives. But Chris manages to keep this trope from feeling stale through charming characters, warm humor and exciting action. The plot does suffer from a bit of predictability, but that could just be because I'm so familiar with fairy tales and subverting them that I have "insider knowledge" so to speak. Overall the plot, while similar to books that have been published before, is clever and with enough surprise twists that it will keep older readers interested without confusing younger readers. I will admit that I didn't find much about the twists surprising, but I think that's more because I read a book as a writer, and Chris did things the way I would have. (I have this problem with a lot of books. I've never read a mystery I haven't been able to figure out the ending of ahead of time.) Despite that, it was fun and enjoyable, and I can't wait for the sequel.

Characterization: The two main characters are twins, Alex and Conner, who have just turned 12. They are each charming and interesting in their own way, and feel like real children. They're concerned with friends, family and school. I will say that I think each twin has an aspect of Chris to them, but not so much that it feels like self-insertion. The supporting characters, especially those in the fairy tale world, are interesting and have personalities that leap right off the page. Many will be familiar to fans of fairy tales, though like any "after the Happily Ever after" trope, there are enough differences to make you grin. I don't want to give anything away, but one fairy tale character in particular is AMAZING even if they only appear for a brief scene or two. There are several instances in the book where the children seem to magically have knowledge to help them through a spot of trouble, but it doesn't detract any from the story.

Writing Style: Chris' humor and self-deprecation definitely shine through the writing. Much like with Struck By Lightning, I feel Chris used some of his pain from childhood to create the characters and story. This is not a bad thing. As any writer will tell you, to write a book you have to bleed tears onto the pages. I don't think you can call yourself a writer unless what you're writing is painful on some level. JK Rowling has said on more than one occasion that writing the Harry Potter novels is how she dealt with her mother's death, and you can see that in how Harry feels about his mother throughout the series. However, sometimes writers can go overboard with this, and the resulting novel is nothing more than a bitter diatribe against those who wronged the author. I am pleased to say that Land Of Stories is so far from that. It's funning, insightful, preachy at times but without being cloying about it, and very much reflects Chris' personality and tone. Chris' biggest strength lies in description. He made the fairy tale world come alive, and I could perfectly picture what it might look like. He also is good with dialogue, and one of the twins in particular has some really, really funny lines.

Overall Impression: The book is very much a love letter to his Grandmother, that much is evident from start to finish, and it's something I identify with. It's a very good first book, not a masterpiece but definitely shows a lot of potential. I'd say the biggest flaw is inconsistent narration. Chris jumps from different character's POV's sometimes in the middle of a paragraph. This is probably just a pet peeve of mine, as I prefer if a book has multiple POV characters, for the jump to happen at a scene break or other natural transition, and not in the middle of a scene or dialogue. The biggest strength is definitely characterization and world building. Ultimately, this book did its job: it entertained me from start to finish. I laughed, I cried, and yes, I even eye rolled in a couple places, but overall it was a fantastic story and Chris definitely is a talent to watch.


Last edited by fantastica on 3/24/2012, 7:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Shinra17 on 3/24/2012, 7:01 pm

Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review

by Sparkysparky (her journal), a member of P_F who has entirely read Chris's book.
Although, I'm going to put it in under a spoiler tag, this review is absolutely non-spoilerish. But since she gives her point of view on many things about the book, it might modify your expectation or what you have imagined until now, so in that sense, it may be spoilerish for some people.

cf fantastica post. (I've put the spoiler tag in your post, as a result)
(what was a point in asking for her permission? lol)

Needless to say, to befriend her, you need a LiveJournal account.

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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  fantastica on 3/24/2012, 7:12 pm

^ yes it totally altered my expectation. I am going to cancel my pre-order of the book and go read the bible instead. :angry:
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  fantastica on 3/24/2012, 7:19 pm

I recommend that you follow the link to that review to the actual P-F post so you can read hte comments. There the reviewer answered more questions.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Shinra17 on 3/24/2012, 7:22 pm

^ fyi about the comments on the p_f com, it's a locked entry, you need to be registered.

fantastica wrote:^ yes it totally altered my expectation. I am going to cancel my pre-order of the book and go read the bible instead. :angry:
Please, do so Smile . It also altered mine, but I'm not changing my mind suure

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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  brisallie on 3/24/2012, 11:06 pm

fantastica wrote:The following is taken from Porcelain Fans. A fan @SparkySparky had the fortune of getting an advanced copy so he/she(??) is doing a review of the book: source

Spoiler:
Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review

Let me start off by saying: not only do I love Christopher Colfer, fairy tales are my crack. I have at least half a dozen versions of Grimm's and Hans Christian Anderson, not to mention a wide collection of books based on fairy tales. I'm even planning to see Snow White and the Huntsman despite the presence of Kristen Stewart. So, no matter how hard I try to remain 100% objective about this book, my view is always going to be a little skewed just because of who I am.

That said, I was careful in this review to not only look at it as a lover of fairy tales but also as a children's bookseller, a teacher and a writer. I wanted to give a balanced, honest review because to do anything else would be an insult to my integrity, and to the integrity of Chris' book. So with all that in mind, here is my review.


Initial Impression: The book captured my attention immediately in the prologue, but lagged for the first two chapters. It picks up momentum again in the third chapter, and managed to keep my attention through the rest of the book. Despite the length (438 pages in the ARC) it's a quick read for an adult. Some kid's might balk at the length, but thanks to books like Harry Potter most kids these days like a longer book. And for those of you wondering about the font, it's the perfect size: not too big and not too small.

Plot: Avid reader's of YA & Children's literature will recognize the plot. Two young kids go on an adventure to escape something horrible in their real lives. But Chris manages to keep this trope from feeling stale through charming characters, warm humor and exciting action. The plot does suffer from a bit of predictability, but that could just be because I'm so familiar with fairy tales and subverting them that I have "insider knowledge" so to speak. Overall the plot, while similar to books that have been published before, is clever and with enough surprise twists that it will keep older readers interested without confusing younger readers. I will admit that I didn't find much about the twists surprising, but I think that's more because I read a book as a writer, and Chris did things the way I would have. (I have this problem with a lot of books. I've never read a mystery I haven't been able to figure out the ending of ahead of time.) Despite that, it was fun and enjoyable, and I can't wait for the sequel.

Characterization: The two main characters are twins, Alex and Conner, who have just turned 12. They are each charming and interesting in their own way, and feel like real children. They're concerned with friends, family and school. I will say that I think each twin has an aspect of Chris to them, but not so much that it feels like self-insertion. The supporting characters, especially those in the fairy tale world, are interesting and have personalities that leap right off the page. Many will be familiar to fans of fairy tales, though like any "after the Happily Ever after" trope, there are enough differences to make you grin. I don't want to give anything away, but one fairy tale character in particular is AMAZING even if they only appear for a brief scene or two. There are several instances in the book where the children seem to magically have knowledge to help them through a spot of trouble, but it doesn't detract any from the story.

Writing Style: Chris' humor and self-deprecation definitely shine through the writing. Much like with Struck By Lightning, I feel Chris used some of his pain from childhood to create the characters and story. This is not a bad thing. As any writer will tell you, to write a book you have to bleed tears onto the pages. I don't think you can call yourself a writer unless what you're writing is painful on some level. JK Rowling has said on more than one occasion that writing the Harry Potter novels is how she dealt with her mother's death, and you can see that in how Harry feels about his mother throughout the series. However, sometimes writers can go overboard with this, and the resulting novel is nothing more than a bitter diatribe against those who wronged the author. I am pleased to say that Land Of Stories is so far from that. It's funning, insightful, preachy at times but without being cloying about it, and very much reflects Chris' personality and tone. Chris' biggest strength lies in description. He made the fairy tale world come alive, and I could perfectly picture what it might look like. He also is good with dialogue, and one of the twins in particular has some really, really funny lines.

Overall Impression: The book is very much a love letter to his Grandmother, that much is evident from start to finish, and it's something I identify with. It's a very good first book, not a masterpiece but definitely shows a lot of potential. I'd say the biggest flaw is inconsistent narration. Chris jumps from different character's POV's sometimes in the middle of a paragraph. This is probably just a pet peeve of mine, as I prefer if a book has multiple POV characters, for the jump to happen at a scene break or other natural transition, and not in the middle of a scene or dialogue. The biggest strength is definitely characterization and world building. Ultimately, this book did its job: it entertained me from start to finish. I laughed, I cried, and yes, I even eye rolled in a couple places, but overall it was a fantastic story and Chris definitely is a talent to watch.

After read this review and though I always try to make my personal opinion, I'm still interested to read LoS Smile hopefully it won't disappoint me.

Sadly I couldn't read the comment because I don't have Livejournal account but it worth to read them?

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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  fantastica on 3/24/2012, 11:23 pm

^ you don't have to read the comment. she didn't change her positions but merely clarify some and be more specific. the review itself is pretty clear.

I was playing when I said I would cancel the order. I haven't and am still eager to read it.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  brisallie on 3/25/2012, 1:03 am

fantastica wrote:^ you don't have to read the comment. she didn't change her positions but merely clarify some and be more specific. the review itself is pretty clear.

I was playing when I said I would cancel the order. I haven't and am still eager to read it.

You know, I read your post first than the review- btw why she could read the book before as everybody? huh- and I thought "Why is Kim saying this?" ohmy So then I read the review thinking I was going to find only bad comments but there wasn't and I understand you were joking Smile

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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  red texta on 3/25/2012, 3:33 am

Sparkysparky's mom owns a bookshop and she works there as well. She got an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) which was given to the bookshop for review (and so they know how many to order). She thinks it's going to sell really well and ordered 30 copies.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  arina on 3/25/2012, 3:54 am

The review was interesting, of course I would like to hear better it is masterpiece and it is perfect, but I think for the first book it will be great.
I read review of SBL where the author said the script has minor structural problems, I am curious if they meant the same what they call in this review "inconsistent narration".


And because I am definitely not a writer and not sooo big reader, I think I'll see it very differently...


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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  ColferInspired on 3/25/2012, 5:41 am

I was never expecting it to a masterpiece. It's a children's book not a literatury piece.

I'm sure most first time authors don't have their first book perfect, it's like with anything done the first time. But it sounds like a good read and makes me want the book more.

It was a good and honest review. She did like the book and said he had talent.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  tanita_mors on 3/25/2012, 6:26 am

Actually, if her impression is true, it's going to be a good book and a popular one. Chris is only 21 with no prior professional experience in writing. I didn't think it was going to be another Harry Potter or LOTR. Lets face it, how many times has an author written a masterpiece on his first go? If it's beyond those copycat supernatural romance/erotic novels that get written by a buck-load theses days and in the league with the likes of Twilight and Hunger Games for a younger audience, it's a success. Personally, I would like it if CC didn't peak at 21, but that SBL and LOS are just a precursor of great things to come in the future.

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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  arina on 3/25/2012, 6:28 am

ColferInspired wrote:I was never expecting it to a masterpiece. It's a children's book not a literatury piece.

I'm sure most first time authors don't have their first book perfect, it's like with anything done the first time. But it sounds like a good read and makes me want the book more.

It was a good and honest review. She did like the book and said he had talent.
I was not expecting it to be a masterpiece either (not that I would be mad if it was). I liked the review as well, it was professional (no just screaming "the best thing ever") and still overalll positive. If all the reviews was like this, I would be happy. But I am sure there will be people who will try to take down that "gay kid who thinks he can write books just because he got famous because of stupid TV show".

I am really looking forward to that book, I love fairytales and I think I am going to like this one. And it will be really interesting to get a little bit in Chris' mind.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Delight on 3/25/2012, 7:17 am

I've been avoiding the TLOS review by sparkysparky on LJ, so I can't comment much on it. I'm just too afraid of letting other people's opinions colour my own before I read Chris's book.

Let's see how long I can avoid reading that review... I doubt I'll last, but I might surprise myself.

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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Shinra17 on 3/25/2012, 9:02 am

arina wrote:Could someone put the comments comments here under the spoiler tag? (at least the most important if there are many), I tried to make a registration there, but I still cant see it, I so baaad at these things. And I am curious.

Here the main things she added in the comments section through answering questions:

Spoiler:
It definitely comes off as someone who is good at writing. It's not as polished as someone who's written 8 books or something, but that's to be expected with a first novel. The one thing I felt, was that it very definitely read like someone in their late teens/early 20's wrote it--which is an EXCELLENT thing in my opinion, as it accurately reflects Chris' voice.

i rarely pick up books written by celebs for just that reason. But this book definitely stands on it's own, and would even if Chris weren't on Glee.

The set up to this book has been done a million times (and that's not even exaggerating) but Chris manages to keep it fresh and interesting with the characters and humor. And there is enough fresh blood, so to speak, to the plot that it's not boring even when it's predictable.

This is definitely miles and miles above the Twilight series!

Yes, I can definitely see it being the Big Book Of Summer, and not just because it was written by Chris. Kids are looking for another Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc. and this genre in particular is very, very popular right now. I've already ordered 30 copies for the store (and to give you a comparison, I only ordered 15 of the last Rick Riordan book and 5 of the last Eragon book.)

To add more to his A-lister status, I can totally see this becoming a movie.

He definitely comes off as an actual writer, albeit a novice writer. A very good novice however.

It's a middle grade book, so suitable for kids ages in 4th grade (around 9/10) to read on their own with maybe a little help from parents.

I don't think so, most books tend to lag a bit at the beginning (especially in the children's/YA genre) because of the introduction of characters and the set-up of the initial problem. I also thought The Hunger Games lagged at the beginning (indeed, all the way through the train scene in the book) but it was intriguing enough to power through and so is LOS.
I would say that no, if you're not a fan of fantasy novels or children's lit in general, or even fiction, this book probably would not appeal to you if you weren't a Chris stan.

I definitely love multiple-people POVs, but usually I like a clear transition (either chapter or scene). All in all though, I think I'm making it sound like a bigger issue than it was. It didn't detract at all from my enjoyment, but was just one of the things I marked down that he can (and will, I'm sure) improve on for the next one.

(about the change of POV) I think it's something he will definitely improve on for the next book. I've seen the same mistakes in A LOT of novice writers, and have been guilty of it myself in the past. It's harder than it seems to keep one POV for a whole scene because you want the reader to know what each of the characters is thinking, lol.

Chris has REALLY GOOD dialogue, so don't worry on that front. His kids sound like kids and the adults sound like adults, and it's witty and sharp and I grinned reading it.


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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  arina on 3/25/2012, 9:53 am

Shinra17 wrote:
arina wrote:Could someone put the comments comments here under the spoiler tag? (at least the most important if there are many), I tried to make a registration there, but I still cant see it, I so baaad at these things. And I am curious.

Here the main things she added in the comments section through answering questions:

Spoiler:
It definitely comes off as someone who is good at writing. It's not as polished as someone who's written 8 books or something, but that's to be expected with a first novel. The one thing I felt, was that it very definitely read like someone in their late teens/early 20's wrote it--which is an EXCELLENT thing in my opinion, as it accurately reflects Chris' voice.

i rarely pick up books written by celebs for just that reason. But this book definitely stands on it's own, and would even if Chris weren't on Glee.

The set up to this book has been done a million times (and that's not even exaggerating) but Chris manages to keep it fresh and interesting with the characters and humor. And there is enough fresh blood, so to speak, to the plot that it's not boring even when it's predictable.

This is definitely miles and miles above the Twilight series!

Yes, I can definitely see it being the Big Book Of Summer, and not just because it was written by Chris. Kids are looking for another Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc. and this genre in particular is very, very popular right now. I've already ordered 30 copies for the store (and to give you a comparison, I only ordered 15 of the last Rick Riordan book and 5 of the last Eragon book.)

To add more to his A-lister status, I can totally see this becoming a movie.

He definitely comes off as an actual writer, albeit a novice writer. A very good novice however.

It's a middle grade book, so suitable for kids ages in 4th grade (around 9/10) to read on their own with maybe a little help from parents.

I don't think so, most books tend to lag a bit at the beginning (especially in the children's/YA genre) because of the introduction of characters and the set-up of the initial problem. I also thought The Hunger Games lagged at the beginning (indeed, all the way through the train scene in the book) but it was intriguing enough to power through and so is LOS.
I would say that no, if you're not a fan of fantasy novels or children's lit in general, or even fiction, this book probably would not appeal to you if you weren't a Chris stan.

I definitely love multiple-people POVs, but usually I like a clear transition (either chapter or scene). All in all though, I think I'm making it sound like a bigger issue than it was. It didn't detract at all from my enjoyment, but was just one of the things I marked down that he can (and will, I'm sure) improve on for the next one.

(about the change of POV) I think it's something he will definitely improve on for the next book. I've seen the same mistakes in A LOT of novice writers, and have been guilty of it myself in the past. It's harder than it seems to keep one POV for a whole scene because you want the reader to know what each of the characters is thinking, lol.

Chris has REALLY GOOD dialogue, so don't worry on that front. His kids sound like kids and the adults sound like adults, and it's witty and sharp and I grinned reading it.

Thank you!!!
I might sound weird, but I was little worried that Chris' children characters could be maybe too much mature (speaking like adult) and such. Because he himself is so mature I was little cautious if he can write "normal" kids, so I am glad he can and ashamed I was underestimated him.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  fantastica on 3/25/2012, 2:07 pm

so from I gather, Chris is a a very good story teller and has a great imagination, but he still has room to improve technically as a writer. that makes perfect sense because Chris is a first time novelist and after all, he's never attended college (well technically he attended like a week or two but I wouldn't count that as a college education). I am not exactly sure if a college degree will necesssarily help as we see some actors w/ college degree in performance arts are average to poor on the show, but w/ plenty of practice he can definitely get better. When it comes to learning, technical aspects of an artistic skill is teacheable, but creativitiy is not. Chris definitely has what it takes to be a great writer/film maker. W/ time and experience he will get better in the technical aspects of things.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  mellama on 3/25/2012, 5:12 pm

I'm really pleased with sparkysparky' s review. ( And so, so jealous of all who got an advance copy. Color me G R E E N with envy!) I find this review balanced enough to be believable and not just fan girl flailing.

IIRC, Chris has said in interviews, that he actually wrote a lot of this for his sister when he was very young. Obviously he would have revised and edited as he recently completed the project for publication, but evenso. I would have been shocked if his book did not have a young voice.

It seems to me that those inner voices Chris jokes about serve him well, as sparkysparky indicates that dialogue is one of his strengths. I have no doubt that Chris' skills, as well as his voice, will develop with maturity and experience. Having said that, I expect that his first will be entertaining in its own right, as well as an impressive indicator of what is to come. I'm excited about the fantasy/ fairy tale genre, but hope he will eventually move into realistic fiction as well.

I imagine that getting feedback from and working with editors will go a long way towards providing a practical education in writing. He may not get a degree out of it, but he'll be taught.
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Shinra17 on 3/25/2012, 7:14 pm

^ The secret for me is reading a lot. A lot of different authors, a lot of different styles. I think it's the best school. Arthur Rimbaud (one of the biggest figure in french literature) has written all of his poems between 15 and 20 years old, he was kind of notorious about running away and had zero degree. But when I read some biography about him, I felt like he has read all the books in the universe lol.

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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Ireth on 3/25/2012, 8:28 pm

I'm very happy with sparkysparky's review...it's unbiased and informative without being spoilery, and she clearly enjoyed the book. Yes, it slightly changed my expectations, but nothing too great. I wasn't expecting the book to be perfect, but it sounds pretty damn good for a first novel. And I like most writing styles provided it's well done, and I'm sure I'll love Chris'.
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Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Emile on 3/26/2012, 5:41 am

Woah! Why all these people with advance copy! panik

Anyway, I just read that review, and I really enjoyed it! It's clear, it not a OMG best children book ever review, and it haven't changed my expectations at all.

I mean, she pointed out a few things that come from inexperience, and that can (and surely will Wink ) be improved, but I expected that since it's his first 'real/professional' contact with writing; and that the set up to the book has been done a million time, but I expected that too, I tought the same thing the first time I heard the major plot.
But she said a lot of positive things trying to remain as little involved as possible. And I like what she said about Chris's writing.

So I'm really looking forward to other reviews and, obviously ( lol ), to the book (in the original language because 1-probably in Italy will never published and 2-I don't want any kind of filter between me and his writing Rolling Eyes ).
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Re: Land of Stories: A (Mostly) Unbiased Review by Sparkysparky

Post  Emile on 5/29/2012, 11:49 am

I didn't read it (for the possible spoilers), so I don't know how it is, but maybe some of you guys can be interested in a review of someone whom have read the book and seems to be in the 'writing field':


- Land of Stories Review -
Let me start off by saying: not only do I love Christopher Colfer, fairy tales are my crack. I have at least half a dozen versions of Grimm’s and Hans Christian Anderson, not to mention a wide collection of books based on fairy tales. I’m even planning to see Snow White and the Huntsman despite the presence of Kristen Stewart. So, no matter how hard I try to remain 100% objective about this book, my view is always going to be a little skewed just because of who I am.

That said, I was careful in this review to not only look at it as a lover of fairy tales but also as a children’s bookseller, a teacher and a writer. I wanted to give a balanced, honest review because to do anything else would be an insult to my integrity, and to the integrity of Chris’ book. So with all that in mind, here is my review. (This is a review of the WHOLE book and contains slight spoilers for plot, characterization & writing style.)

Spoiler:
Initial Impression: The book captured my attention immediately in the prologue, but lagged for the first two chapters. It picks up momentum again in the third chapter, and managed to keep my attention through the rest of the book. Despite the length (438 pages in the ARC) it’s a quick read for an adult. Some kid’s might balk at the length, but thanks to books like Harry Potter most kids these days like a longer book. And for those of you wondering about the font, it’s the perfect size: not too big and not too small.

Plot: Avid reader’s of YA & Children’s literature will recognize the plot. Two young kids go on an adventure to escape something horrible in their real lives. But Chris manages to keep this trope from feeling stale through charming characters, warm humor and exciting action. The plot does suffer from a bit of predictability, but that could just be because I’m so familiar with fairy tales and subverting them that I have “insider knowledge” so to speak. Overall the plot, while similar to books that have been published before, is clever and with enough surprise twists that it will keep older readers interested without confusing younger readers. I will admit that I didn’t find much about the twists surprising, but I think that’s more because I read a book as a writer, and Chris did things the way I would have. (I have this problem with a lot of books. I’ve never read a mystery I haven’t been able to figure out the ending of ahead of time.) Despite that, it was fun and enjoyable, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Characterization: The two main characters are twins, Alex and Conner, who have just turned 12. They are each charming and interesting in their own way, and feel like real children. They’re concerned with friends, family and school. I will say that I think each twin has an aspect of Chris to them, but not so much that it feels like self-insertion. The supporting characters, especially those in the fairy tale world, are interesting and have personalities that leap right off the page. Many will be familiar to fans of fairy tales, though like any “after the Happily Ever after” trope, there are enough differences to make you grin. I don’t want to give anything away, but one fairy tale character in particular is AMAZING even if they only appear for a brief scene or two. There are several instances in the book where the children seem to magically have knowledge to help them through a spot of trouble, but it doesn’t detract any from the story.

Writing Style: Chris’ humor and self-deprecation definitely shine through the writing. Much like with Struck By Lightning, I feel Chris used some of his pain from childhood to create the characters and story. This is not a bad thing. As any writer will tell you, to write a book you have to bleed tears onto the pages. I don’t think you can call yourself a writer unless what you’re writing is painful on some level. JK Rowling has said on more than one occasion that writing the Harry Potter novels is how she dealt with her mother’s death, and you can see that in how Harry feels about his mother throughout the series. However, sometimes writers can go overboard with this, and the resulting novel is nothing more than a bitter diatribe against those who wronged the author. I am pleased to say that Land Of Stories is so far from that. It’s funning, insightful, preachy at times but without being cloying about it, and very much reflects Chris’ personality and tone. Chris’ biggest strength lies in description. He made the fairy tale world come alive, and I could perfectly picture what it might look like. He also is good with dialogue, and one of the twins in particular has some really, really funny lines.

Overall Impression: The book is very much a love letter to his Grandmother, that much is evident from start to finish, and it’s something I identify with. It’s a very good first book, not a masterpiece but definitely shows a lot of potential. I’d say the biggest flaw is inconsistent narration. Chris jumps from different character’s POV’s sometimes in the middle of a paragraph. This is probably just a pet peeve of mine, as I prefer if a book has multiple POV characters, for the jump to happen at a scene break or other natural transition, and not in the middle of a scene or dialogue. The biggest strength is definitely characterization and world building. Ultimately, this book did its job: it entertained me from start to finish. I laughed, I cried, and yes, I even eye rolled in a couple places, but overall it was a fantastic story and Chris definitely is a talent to watch.

If you guys have questions you want me to answer, feel free to spam my ask box. Smile

Excerpts: (Copyright Little & Brown Company, Hachette Group & Chris Colfer, 2012) All excerpts are from the ARC edition of the book.

“Fine. I’ll pick Sleeping Beauty,” he decided.
“Interesting selection,” Alex said, intrigued. “What do you suppose the moral of that story is?”
“Don’t piss off your neighbors, I guess,” Conner said.



“Let me finish,” Mr. Bailey went on. “One day, a fairy came to the lake and granted the fish a wish—”
“That’s random,” Conner said. “Why do fairies always just show up and do nice things for people they don’t know?”
“Employment obligation?” Mr. Bailey shrugged.



Rapunzel’s story had always been easy for Alex to identify with. Alex felt she was in a tower of her own, looking at the world from an unreachable location.




The northern tip of the Sleeping Kingdom was an ugly and vacant place. It was known for its bare trees, bumpy paths and dangerously high cliffs. Small stones were scattered on the earth, making it nearly impossible to travel by carriage. Even though it rained every so often, nothing ever grew, making it impossible for any animals to live there.
X


Edit: It's the same review than the one you already read Laughing , she probably just reposts her review on her tumblr Wink
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