Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book review: "Midwinterblood" by Marcus Sedgwick, winner of the 2014 Printz Medal

15792870Title: Midwinterblood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
PublisherRoaring Brook Press, 2013

Seven tales are told, all set on an island called Blessed, spanning through the years. Though they are separate, together they tell one story, of pure and intense love that is heedless of time.

The seven tales begin with one set in the future, on a remote island the day a stranger arrives. It quickly becomes clear that something isn't right, and we are left feeling rattled and uncertain by the end of this first part.

Each subsequent tale takes place farther back in the past, telling the story of families, lovers, children, and violence. At first there are only the most tenuous of connections, but eventually we begin to see pieces falling into place.

This is a weird little book. I can definitely see why the Printz committee wanted to award this with the high honor, as it is full of rich symbolism, imagery, beautiful language, and layers upon layers of meaning and details a reader can unpack to see the whole, complex picture. I went back many times to check on little clues in previous stories to make sure I was making the connections I thought I was meant to make, and the smallest details are worked into the whole, with particular symbols showing up over and over. It's not a very long book, being under 300 pages, and I was able to finish it in a day, but it is very dense and could probably do with a reread to find things missed the first time around.

Yet at the end, I am kind of baffled as to how this came to be published for the young adult market. Not many of the characters are teens, and in fact most are adults. Even though there is nothing particularly racy or "adult" about the content, this book seems to be for not only mature readers, but sophisticated and discerning readers. I'm sure there are some teens who would love and appreciate this kind of literature, but I'm not sure what rationale the publisher had when it decided to place it under a young adult imprint.

Honestly, at the end I was left feeling very unsatisfied. However, it did leave me thinking for a long time, trying to piece together more clues and details long after I had finished. I wouldn't say I liked it, not really, but I can certainly appreciate it. This would be a great recommendation for people who liked the book Cloud Atlas, I think.

Disclaimer: I obtained this book through my local library.

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