Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Colors of Madeleine, Book 1

Tags: young adult, Aussie YA, England, alternate worlds, epistolary, he-said/she-said

Summary

14-year-old Madeleine Tully and her mother are living in Cambridge, England after running away from her father and their former glamorous life. When Madeleine spies a piece of paper peeking out from a random parking meter and writes back, she thinks it’s crazy that Elliot Baranski, the person at the other end of the letters, claims to be from another world called the Kingdom of Cello…

…but Cello is real, and so is Elliot. For a year now, Elliot has been obsessed with the mystery of his father’s disappearance. As things unfold, however, the more it seems like there are more things wrong with Cello than he realized—and it turns out that Madeleine and Elliot could use each other’s help.

Review

Jaclyn Moriarty and her epistolary novels were some of my favorites in my pre-blogging years. Did her latest offering live up to my now-admittedly-quite-jaded demands for quality fiction? A day after closing the book with a contented sigh, I am happy to say: yes, yes it did.

A CORNER OF WHITE possesses a sort of whimsy that is effortless and not overbearing. Reading this is not so much about understanding and relating to the main characters, or getting a complete picture of the world of Cello, but rather how Moriarty uses words that have existed elsewhere before and puts them together so that they look brand new. Her words are like color itself: surprising, vivid, and probably what we’ll remember most about the reading experience.

Many authors start their books off with attention-grabbing chapters and just sort of assume that readers will hang on through poor pacing and awkward plot twists. A CORNER OF WHITE has a fairly intriguing beginning, then doesn’t care whether or not you’re confused or ambivalent in the middle (you will be), then has a flawlessly put-together ending of Megan Whalen Turner proportions that will leave you gaping and swooning. Whether or not you understand or relate to Madeleine and Elliot, the way the story is laid out will ensnare you, so that even while you’re still exclaiming to whoever will listen that the story is confusing the heck out of you, you can’t stop turning the pages.

Not only was A CORNER OF WHITE a great reading experience for me, it also left me firmly invested in Madeleine and Elliot’s intertwined worlds and fates. The book ends satisfyingly, yet still opens up numerous possibilities to be explored in future books, which I will definitely be reading. Fans of Franny Billingsley, Catherynne Valente, Margo Lanagan, and Jasper Fforde’s writings will undoubtedly fall head over heels for this highly imaginative book.

Similar Authors
Franny Billingsley
Jasper Fforde
Catherynne Valente
Margo Lanagan

Cover discussion: I think it's easy to glance at this cover and think it too generic, but it's one of those kinds that grows on you more after you've read and adored the story. The whimsy and the eye-catching spots of color are all there.

Arthur A. Levine Books / April 1, 2013 / Hardcover / 384pp. / $17.99

e-galley received from publisher and NetGalley. Thanks!

23 comments:

  1. This book is familiar to me but my brain is not working properly so I can't remember where have I seen it. Anyway I'm happy to see that you enjoyed the story. I love books that are somehow confusing but still good. Great review :)

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    1. There's a big blog tour going on for it right now. Maybe that's where you've seen it before? :)

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  2. This one's sitting on my shelf (ahh! I say that way too often these days!) but I think it's moving up my list. Whimsy is not something you find done well very often. Add in a way with words and you've completely captured my attention.

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    1. I know, right?! I'm in awe of authors who do whimsy so well. I hope you enjoy it when you get around to it!

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  3. Sounds great. I've heard of Moriarty but never read anything by her. I shall have to rectify that now.

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  4. Glad to hear you liked it, Steph. I have it in my stack and have heard reactions across the board. This one makes me happy.

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    1. Do you think you'll read it eventually, Angie? Would love to know how you feel about this one. I can never predict what you'll think of a certain book but I certainly know what I *hope* you'll feel...!

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    2. I'm definitely going to read it! So I will be sure to let you know. Lol. Right back atcha. :)

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  5. I was not drawn in by the first two chapters, but your review makes me want to give it a second chance. I loved the cover too.

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    1. Sarah, I wasn't fully drawn into the book until about a quarter or so of the way through. The first two chapters are definitely convincing, and I think it's one of those reading experiences where you'll need to let go and pour yourself into reading it for a few hours in order to get immersed. Hope you can give it another try sometime when you're feeling up to it!

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    2. Thanks for the nudge, Steph. You were right: a few chapters more and I was hooked. It felt a bit young for YA but the writing was really good. I posted my review today. I'm a bit behind on my blog.

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  6. It definitely was NOT an easy book to read whatsoever. Like you, I was confused for parts of it, but I did end up liking it as we drew closer to the end. There's just something about the whimsical, fanciful way it was written that appeals to me!

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    1. Yeah, I'm glad I ended up liking it as well! When I saw your tweet about enjoying it I was at that point in the book where I wasn't sure whether or not I did. So I'm glad it worked out for both of us. :)

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  7. Eep, I'm reading this right now and I'm really enjoyed it. It's very different and strange in some parts, but excellent as well. I'll probably come back to this when I'm finished. I only have less than a third of the novel left! :)

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    1. Can't wait to hear what you think of this, Keertana!

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  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed this! Jaclyn really does have a way with words, and this was such a delight to read. I can't wait for the next instalment :)

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  9. I'm so glad this was still available on NetGalley when I logged in the other day because you mentioned MEGAN WHALEN TURNER! Of course I'd want to read this.

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  10. Wow, all you had to do was mention Megan Whalen Turner and I was like, I HAVE TO read this! I love that it started strong and ended in such an astonishing way. I've never read a single thing by Moriarty but I think it's about time that I start.
    great review.

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  11. This sounds so fascinating! I don't read nearly enough speculative fiction books that border on whimsical - I feel like those are usually geared towards a younger audience - but I'd definitely be willing to try a YA book billed as such. What has really sold me on this book is the fact that you consider the ending twist to be equal to Megan Whalen Turner's creations. Not many authors can write as she does, so I am eager to experience A Corner of White for myself!

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    1. I hope my MWT sell doesn't disappoint! xP

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  13. I read this a few months ago (thanks to Mandee), but I haven't been able to write a review because I don't think I can do justice to this fantastic book. Steph, your review hits it out of the park. I love how you compared Jaclyn's words to color. I really hope people give this book a chance, even though I know it won't appeal to everyone. I can't wait to read the next book and I'm still pushing Feeling Sorry for Celia and Year of Secret Assignments on anyone I can. Can you believe Jaclyn will be at Festival of Books?? I FREAKED OUT when I saw her name.

    -Maggie

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  14. I really love seeing that this is epistolary as I always enjoy that technique; looking forward to checking this one out after all the buzz.

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