April 2010, Young Adult
Harper Teen, $8.99, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 006087421X
Like most guys, Jack hoped to kiss a hot European chick while on a tour of the continent. He just hadn't planned on her being 300 years old.
Jack hadn't been surprised by how "completely lame" his bus tour of Europe was. If his parents planned it, it was bound to not be fun. So taking a day off from stuffy old museums and playing hooky to go to the beach with best pal Travis seems like a good idea. Right up until they take a wrong turn into a magical forest, he kisses a sleeping girl who is hotter than a super model and the two wind up on the wrong end of a pair of swords.
Talia should have known better than to touch that spindle but a day away from the birthday that would set her free of that dratted curse she goes and does it anyway. She is none too thrilled to find out that it took three hundred years for someone to break the curse and that that someone is no royal prince - nor does he have any intentions of marriage. After a thoroughly wretched day trying to get the problem worked out she springs Jack from prison and heads to Florida with him, determined to make a life for herself in a new time and place. And what a time and place! Adventures await her around every corner. Busses, cell phones, pool parties and witches! Wait, what? Just when she thought she had defeated the curse she senses the dark presence of her former nemesis. Can she and Jack defeat evil not once but twice? Who knew that a first kiss could lead to so much trouble.
This had to be one of the most fun fairy tale adaptations I have read in a long time. I was tickled by Jack's troubles in dealing with the aftermath of the kiss (and shame on him for kissing a sleeping girl anyway!) He learns a lot of lessons on his route to being the kind of hero Talia needs, most especially that of really listening to and paying attention to the people around him. The lessons aren't done in a heavy handed manner though, but lightly, so as not to detract from the tale.
Talia, as a rather spoiled princess, learns a lot too. And surprisingly, she is able to employ all the skills she learned as a future ambassador, artist and fashion plate to help Jack and his family deal with some problems of their own. She proves to be astoundingly resilient, fun and open-minded with just a touch of old fashioned girl. I enjoyed that she had a sweetness and wholesomeness to her that made her very endearing. I also enjoyed how she proved that mean girls existed in every generation and the simple key to dealing with them is self-confidence. It's not always that easy of course - but she did a good job of making it look that way.
After the rather bizarre start to their relationship, Jack and Talia settle into a fairly mature teen romance. One of the great things about it is that Jack finally learns to look a bit beyond the hot factor in women. He realizes what was wrong in his last relationship and changes things in order to have a real relationship with Talia. In the end, it is the fact that he has paid attention to her as a person that enables him to "defeat" the evil fairy.
Malvolia gets a bit more page room than average here and she turns out to be fairly sympathetic. Sure, she has taken revenge to an evil level, but at least there is a reason beyond "I didn't get invited to the party" and you can empathize some with what has happened to her.
The way Euphrasia stays alive as a nation is creative and fun too. Given that it is a fairly small kingdom, it was clever and possibly feasible. I don't know how realistic their solution was, but the fact that people were working on a solution satisfied my curiosity about this aspect of the enchantment.
There were a lot of LOL moments for me in this little gem of a YA book. It reads young, but the writing is witty and the author's style smooth and polished. If there is still a little girl in you that longs for fairy tales with a bit more weight (like there is in me) then I strongly recommend this book.
-- Maggie Boyd
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