Monday, 13 August 2012

Wrapped Up In You - Dan Jolley & Natalie Nourigat

Well, look at me, being a big time book blogger. This is the first time I'm able to review a book before it's actually been published. I was sent the ARC copy of Wrapped Up in You last week and get to review it early. Mainly because I'm best friends with Natalie Nourigat but what are you going to do?

Wrapped Up in You is one in a series of new books from Lerner Publishing called My Boyfriend is a Monster. Jumping on the whole Twilight bandwagon, Lerner wanted to make a series that both embraced the supernatural mystique that is gripping the nation but is also much more responsible, showing girls with healthier relationships than their sparkly counterparts. Each book in the series uses a different monster: vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein's monster, etc. If you couldn't guess from the title, Wrapped Up in You is the mummy book.

Now, of course, romancing someone in thick bandages seems a bit more medical than romantic but no worries, this mummy is of the Incan variety, brought back to life by magic (of course) and much more attractive and muscular than that friend of Abbott and Costello. Oh, and his name's Chuck. Because of course it is.

Our heroine is a girl named Staci Glass, your average highschooler. She's best friends with a girl named Faith but, unfortunately, Faith begins hanging around with the wrong sort of crowd. Drug users? No, magic users. Yep, Faith starts hanging out with witches, who end up bringing Chuck back from the dead, just in time for him to wine and dine Staci and defeat those witches because, you know, they're pretty mean. 

The story, overall, is pretty cute, if a little over-simplistic. It works for its target audience, teenage girls, but it does feel a bit off. I think, for the most part, the story works once it gets past its very odd and uneven beginning. Staci complains about always witnessing bad things happening and whether or not she should tell people about it. That is a weird thing to complain about. It's just so oddly specific about something that happens to everyone. Also, is she just hyper observant? It's a weird problem to have.

The other thing about the beginning that really threw me off was the way Staci gets very worried about Faith "doing magic." When asked if she believes in magic, she says that she doesn't but she also understands that there's things she doesn't know. This bizarre sequence of Staci trying to get advice from several authority figures at her school (including an extremely odd bit with a guidance counselor) just doesn't gel with the rest of the book. Once the mummy is risen(?), of course you have to start believing in magic. It obviously works. But before that, this is a seemingly normal school. Why is Staci so freaked out about Faith doing "magic"? I would understand if maybe she thought something else was going on, drugs or alcohol-related. That would seem more in keeping with the tone. Having her worried about magic before any proof that it existed was off-putting.

Not that Staci wasn't a nice main character; she was, even despite her awful name. She was genuinely nice and sweet, caring about the, admittedly few, friends she had. It just felt like she was quite bland. She didn't really have anything that made her stand out, other than the fact that things happened to her. Now, I'm sure part of this is just the fact that there weren't a whole lot of pages for Jolley to work with but she still felt rather flat. 

Also flat? Her relationship with Chuck. Once again, I fear this is mainly the fault of the book's length. Chuck isn't even introduced until the end of the first chapter. But he's definitely much more fleshed out than Staci, having a clear personality and motives for his actions. But despite him being a well defined character, the relationship between him and Staci seems forced. She's the only girl he's interacted with since he died (awkward) and they go from walking around to kissing in about two seconds flat. It was hard to believe that this was a real relationship. The end was sweet but it definitely felt rushed. Probably because it was.

The overall plot was good and engaging. The bits with the witches were fun and the police detectives definitely added something to the mix. It's a fun book to read. It just felt a bit forced at times. 

As for the art, well, I'm a bit biased. Personally, I thought it was a perfect tone for the book. It was never too far out but it was also whimsical and went with the story. I especially loved all the museum pieces. Chuck definitely looked like an Incan and Faith looked like the sort of personal that would twirl through life. It all connected with the larger context.

Wrapped Up in You is a good book for what it wants to be. You can tell there was room for more if there was just the time or place to add it in but for a fun romp through magic fights and Incan delights, than this is the book for you.

Wrapped Up in You will be available from Lerner Group in October 2012.

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