Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: “Wildwood” by Colin Meloy

wildwoodWildwood by Colin Meloy (Carson Ellis, illustrator)
Published: August 30, 2011
ISBN-10: 006202468X
Genre: Children's Literature (Middle Grade), Fantasy
Source: Personal Copy
Highly Recommended

Summary (from the book jacket):
Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary.  At least until her baby brother is abducted by a murder of crows.  And then things get really weird.  You see, on every map of Portland, Oregon, there is a big splotch of green on the edge of the city labeled “I.W.” This stands for “Impassable Wilderness.”  No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.
And this where the crows take her brother.

So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness.  There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions.  ANd what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness.

A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.

Thoughts on the content (4.0/5.0):
I will admit that fantasy is not my preferred genre, although I am more likely to enjoy it when, like Wildwood, it is written for the younger set.  Since my exposure to the genre is limited, I can’t say if this book’s plot is unique, but I did find it entertaining.  It was well paced, which I appreciate. I never felt that things were stagnating or rushed.  There are many groups of people and creatures in this book and Meloy patiently develops each one.  The two protagonists, Prue and Curtis, are well-written typical tweens.  I will say that Prue was more of a “stock” heroine, but Curtis was someone I really cheered for.

Thoughts on the style (4.0/5.0).
Meloy’s style is very readable.  Even though this is juvenile fiction, I didn’t feel that he wrote down to the reader, which is a trap in books written for that age group.  There is a sense of dry humor under everything, which I found enjoyable.  This tends to come to life more through Prue, who is far more serious.  Curtis, however, embodies the wonder one would feel coming into a world such as Wildwood.

Ellis’s illustrations in this book really add to the whole story.  Her style is very distinctive, but it fits perfectly with the world Meloy creates.

My thoughts (4.0/5.0):
I read reviews of this book after I finished it and they are decidedly mixed.  I really enjoyed this novel (and I have the sequel waiting for me on my Kindle!) and was perplexed about the negative reviews.  Then I got it….this is a uniquely Portland book.  I don’t think you need to live in Portland, or be familiar with the area, to enjoy the book.  But I do think that the people who said they did not enjoy the novel would not really “get” the Portland culture.

You see, those of us who live here (in the city and in the suburbs), really don’t think a mythical world existing in Forest Park (the location of the Impassable Wilderness) is that far-fetched idea.  And we wouldn’t think twice about the idea of bipedal talking coyotes or bands of Irish bandits living there.  And the English Ivy that requires the blood of a human infant?  That isn’t even fiction in our minds.
I was not solicited for this review and received no compensation.  All opinions are mine, and mine alone.
Affiliate Link: Purchase this book at Amazon.

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