Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 28, 2014
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A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.NOTE: I won this ARC in a giveaway, and Random House mailed it to my house in exchange for an honest review!
Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.
As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.
A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.
Honestly, I have been avoiding writing this review. I finished reading Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy today at lunch (yes, I read at school. I am well aware that that makes me a book nerd), and my friends were telling me to calm down because I was freaking out over the ending.
I haven't read any other reviews yet because I don't want someone else's thoughts and opinions to infiltrate my review, but from what skim reading I did on some reviews I don't think I saw anyone talk about how the ending was stupefying. I can truly say that I don't know if what happened was real or not. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the end just doesn't really tell you whether or not Ophelia imagined all of the events with the Marvelous Boy or if they really happened. I honestly liked this part of the book; it made me question everything that happened in the book.
But I've been dreading this review, because I'm not quite sure what I thought of the book overall. That's why it's getting my default three stars.
First thing's first: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy did not read like a children's fiction book or even a middle grade book. I've read Percy Jackson. I know what middle grade sounds like. This book is not it. Foxlee's writing is just so marvelous (to be punny), and quite frankly it's a beautiful prose. There's a certain finesse to her writing style that makes me just want to read more, if not for the story but for the writing.
Second thing, although the writing wowed me, the story line did not. I will admit it was interesting enough, but it didn't instantly grab me. It's similar to Narnia with the Snow Queen and magical sword and immortal children (are immortal children in Narnia?). This didn't bother me all that much, but I definitely noticed it. My friends read the back of the book and agreed.
Also, I wasn't too fond of the Marvelous Boy's flashbacks. At first they were funny, insightful, and I liked them, but as the book drug along, I didn't quite feel as enthralled. I think they started to become less adventurous and more like info-dumping.
I don't read much middle grade, so I'm not sure if the predictability of the genre is apparent in all the books, but this book was way too predictable. Painfully predictable, even. The true identity of the Snow Queen at the end of the novel is revealed as if it was a big secret all along when I had guessed it the first time the Snow Queen made an appearance in the book. Also, the "plot twists" weren't all that twisty, so to speak.
Before this review gets too lengthy, I just want to add that I didn't dislike this book, hence the three stars. It was enjoyable to me. I think that if the story was longer and we, the readers, had more time to connect with the character that we wouldn've been more emotionally invested in their lives and cared more for how things played out in the end. The most invested I got was at the end when the big secret on the Marvelous Boy's name ISN'T REVEALED and when I don't know whether or not the Marvelous Boy was even real to begin with.
In conclusion, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy isn't one of my most highly recommended books, but I do not regret reading it. I already got one of my friends to read it when it hits shelves tomorrow. This book would most likely be enjoyed by people who like short, adventure/fantasy books.