Chime by Franny Billingsley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ok, so five stars, and here is why: this book richly deserves five stars. It is BEAUTIFULLY written. It is not, however, going to seem beautifully written to many or even most people, for the very reason it is a dark-twisty-wonderful mess of beauty.
I won't lie, it almost lost me. I was about 30% of the way through when I stopped reading and started looking for something else. Reading the first half of this book, to me, was a lot like a reading assignment for school. I'm an English major who enjoys poetry only when it is not force fed. And that (being an English major) gives me the authority to refer to the twisty rabbit warren mind of Briony, the narrator, in this first part. It is complex, it is boring, but BOY HOWDY will it all start to make sense later.
Take it in, slowly. Small chunks. Pace yourself, take your time, be patient with this book. Let yourself get bored, but please please try to finish it, because it is so worth the effort!
Usually I have trouble immersing myself into anything that isn't info-dump-tastic and incredibly oversimplified without massive distrust of the author's skill, and to a certain extent that happened here. Once I started to figure out what was going on in the story, my brain was highjacked, my disbelief suspended.
The characters were really well done. My favorite part of the story is Elderic. I am usually not so susceptible to male characters, but I couldn't help but be charmed. He was just so dang understanding and raffish and frankly calling any man leonine is enough to make my imagination do implausible things.
Ok, now I'm just gushing and not saying anything particularly useful. My final remark is that I liked this book for the same reason I love Diana Wynne Jones' Fire & Hemlock. There are some similarities, but mostly I am referring to the fact that it's hard to tell exactly what is going on but you love it all the same.
Just read it, all the way through. I probably will again soon.
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Labels: 5 stars, Review