Thursday, August 4, 2011
Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata #1) by Lisa Mantchev
Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.
That is, until now.
Enter Stage Right
NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.
COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.
ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.
BERTIE. Our heroine.
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.
Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.
First Look: ***** I had picked this up several times at the library, but never actually took it home until now. The synopsis really didn't say what the actual plot of the story was, something that drove me insane. I suppose the unnatural blue hair didn't help. But, for whatever reason, I thought I might as well give this a try, since this seems to be the Summer of Actually Bothering to Read Stuff I Usually Don't Take Home.
Setting: ***** This setting involves a very large amount of suspension of belief. But once you've gotten past that, it was very cool. I loved the concept of the theater; it was fabulous. It was so fresh and unique, and it just had this wonderful magical aura to it, and the atmosphere it created was perfect for the rest of the book.
I just wish Mantchev would've put more effort into explaining how it fit in with the rest of the world, because that didn't make any sense to me. I don't know; maybe the vagueness was intentional, but I didn't care for it. I would've loved to know how it actually worked, rather than just taking her word for it.
Characters: ***** I'm still not sure how I feel about Bertie, character-wise. I never really connected with her like I would've liked to. Someone who's lived in a theater their entire life should be very interesting, but in the end she just fell flat. I never really rooted for her to win, because I felt she was very disrespectful to the Managers, which annoyed me, no matter how rude they were to start with.
The fairies were definitely my favorites. In places, they were downright hilarious. I really can't see their point in the story, except for those bits of comic relief. The other characters were all over the place, for me. Nate was too perfect to be real, and Ariel was annoying beyond belief. Hamlet was just amusing, but for me, the interesting one was Ophelia. I liked her, but I saw her big secret coming five miles away.
Plot: ***** The beginning was pretty slow. I felt like the plot would've been much better if the entire focus had been on the Book and its missing pages and escaping characters (very Night At the Museum-ish*), the plot would've been much more exciting and engaging. But the beginning dragged, and too much focus was spent on things like Bertie's hair color. The romance was unrealistic and a bit boring.
Once the plot picked up, though, I liked it more. The stuff about Ariel and the Book was very exciting and dramatic. The ending was a nice finish, even if I did spot that one coming from ten miles away, as well.
Uniqueness: ***** This book is another one of those bang-my-head-against-a-wall-'cause-I-didn't-think-of-this-first books. The idea is so fresh and just plain cool.
Writing: ***** I liked it. Her writing style had a poetic feel to it, which I always enjoy in books. What I really loved, though, were the flashbacks. They were written as if they were an actual play. I thought that was a great idea, and Mantchev could've gone even farther with it, in my opinion. I actually think she could've very easily written the entire book in play format. That would've been very cool.
Likes: I love the whole concept. And the fairies.
Not-so-great: Again, some things just didn't make sense. For example, if the fairies have never left the theater and have never seen the outside world, how could they be mimicking infomercials? How could the characters escape outside, and nobody notices they're a bit different? It didn't make sense.
Total Score: This is a very magical book that would appeal to any theater-lover. Even if you're fairly clueless when it comes to theater, like me, it's still enjoyable. The idea was very unique and refreshing, but the follow-through fell a little flat. The romance just didn't work for me at all, and the characters weren't a whole lot better. Still, if this looks interesting to you, I wouldn't hesitate to pick it up.
*If you don't know by now, I adore Night At the Museum. Probably in my top five movies. How can you not love a movie that ends with Civil War mannikins and a T-rex dancing to September?