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Mama Reviews Poison and Rapunzel Untangled

January 24, 2013

Faithful readers of my blog know I am a voracious reader. I love tween/teen fiction best. And, as a homeschooling mom, I’m very particular about what my kids read, thus, I generally read most titles before they do, unless I am very familiar with the series or author, and they have already made the cut.

Additionally, I just love the genre enough that I often read tween/teen/YA fiction “just because,” and because I am a Christian mom, I just don’t like a lot of the garbage out there in the fiction category for grown-ups (not to say that doesn’t happen with YA literature, too…). Thus, I am blogging about many of my reads, to help Christian parents find good, current literature, and discussing my finds from a Christian worldview to pinpoint any areas that may be of concern.

With that in mind, let’s get to today’s offerings:

I have always loved fairy and folk tales and re-tellings/re-imaginings. In college, as a Child Development major, I was fascinated by Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment, discussing the psychology and need behind these tales to help us resolve conflict in the “real world.”

This was all many years ago. I’ve since become a Christian, and, yes, one of “those” Christians who just doesn’t play around with witchcraft-y things. That said, both of the stories I’m reviewing today have very mild instances, rather more like a backdrop or subplot.

First up:

Title: Poison
Author: Bridget Zinn
Format(s): Hardcover and Kindle
Pages: 288
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Price: Retails for 16.99
Publishing Date: Expected March 12, 2013

Talk about your empowered female! Wow! Kyra (or “Kitty” :::gigglesnort::: *) is one tough cookie! That’s the beauty of this story and what I liked best. This girl is accused of trying to murder a princess (who happens to be her best friend)…um…and it’s sorta true. But….and that “but” is the whole story, so I can’t give it away.

Kyra is resourceful, uses ingenuity, is pretty funny, and really doesn’t “need” some guy rescuing her (though, having one, as Kyra soon finds, isn’t such a bad proposition).

The story is an intriguing one, and well told. The characters are believable, as is the dialog. However, the dialog is one of two negatives I have regarding this book: it contains some mild potty language. Nothing you wouldn’t find on TV during a show for older teens/adults, but certainly enough that a Christian family would probably take a pass on this title. Mild spoiler alert: The other issue that might give a parent pause is the one scene where Kyra is under-dressed for the occasion. Nothing titillating or any fault of either party, but without giving away too much, there is a definite “awareness.”

Title: Rapunzel Untangled
Author: Cindy Bennett
Format: Hardcover (so far)
Pages: 304
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Price: Retails for 16.99
Publishing Date: Expected February 12, 2013

Rapunzel Untangled is pretty dark, but then again, most fairy tales are!

Imagine Rapunzel as a teen with an illness that forces her away from the “real world,” where her only outside communication comes in the form of Facebook messaging. What a premise! Seems far-fetched maybe, but so are most of the fairy tale set ups! This one actually makes a bit more sense, when you think of it.

This story has a more prominent witchcraft backdrop, and some of those scenes are so unbelievably “fantastic” that I really skimmed over them, and focused on the fore-plot.

The hardest part about this book (mild spoiler alert) would be the depiction of mental illness. It’s heartbreaking to read, and so infused in the storyline. It’s brilliant, but it’s very dark and uber-tragic.

The story itself is clean. Yes, there is romance, but it’s all very tame, and actually very sweet, considering how naive our heroine is given her lack of outside contact. It’s a re-imagining of a fairy tale, so we aren’t really looking for believability, though I think the author does paint Rapunzel and Fab Fane Flannigan (not crazy about the name!) fairly realistically (despite the names!).

Unlike Poison, Rapunzel Untangled has a heroine that isn’t brassy and independent, and the plot really depends on a “rescuer.” That said, Rapunzel has an inner courage, and frankly, given mental illness issue, one that is so stunning in the face of such abuse, you have to applaud her.

Both books are written for those much older than my own kids, and both slant to the female teen market (though guys might appreciate how cool Poison‘s Fred is!).



* How she comes by this name is the “gigglesnort” 😉

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