Monday, August 15, 2011

Like Mandarin Review

Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Release Date:
March 8, 2011
Pages: 305 (ARC)
Delacorte Press
Most Appropriate For Ages: 12+
Where I Got It: From RandomBuzzers

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.
After hearing so many great things about Hubbard's debut and finally reading it for myself, I'm left feeling very conflicted.

I thought Hubbard's writing was great, especially when describing the setting. But I thought that describing Mandarin's appearance every page was a bit much, and made her beauty seem almost forced.

While I found Mandarin to be interesting enough, I never really connected with her like I wanted to. And unfortunately, I found the main character Grace very annoying. She was constantly fixated on what others thought of her. I realize that her agitating personality was part of the story--and she did develop as the story went on--but it still bothered me a lot. 

The ending of Like Mandarin was powerful, but for me, the rest of the book wasn't nearly powerful enough. I see great potential in aspects of Hubbard's writing, though, and I'll be reading her next book. I just missed something in Like Mandarin, sadly.
Book Report:
Plot: A bit on the slow side.
Characters: Eh.
Writing: Great in some aspects, but slightly lacking in others.
Ending: Powerful and fitting.
Kid friendly? There's language, mentions of sex, drinking, and an attempted rape.
Should I read it? Yeah, I'm definitely in the minority of people who didn't adore it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I saw Kirsten Hubbard in New York at the Teen Author Carnival and this book sounded interesting.


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