And here's what I thought: I really enjoyed this book, not only because it had such a cool plot, but also because the characters felt so real. So let's start with the characters first, shall we? There are main characters in our world, Becky, Chris, and Polly (Chris' ex-wife, and Becky's mom). Becky's a pretty mature fourteen-year-old, but that makes sense, considering that she had overcome some serious health issues when she was younger. She came across as a completely real girl, quiet and thoughtful. Chris and Polly are also completely realistic, and what struck me the most about them in this book was that their dialogue, and interactions with each other rang true. Polly isn't always the nicest person, and it seems that she's often motivated by wanting to hurt Chris (although it's never clear why she's like this). However, divorced couples sometimes do behave like this, getting in jabs here and there, and doing things to antagonize each other. I actually liked that they were written like this, because I found them completely believable. Miea was also written in a realistic way -- she may be young, but she's a realistic queen, a woman who has some heavy responsibilities, and who understands that the decisions she makes affect many people. I liked that she seemed educated and serious about her responsibilities -- it made her believable, as well.
I also really enjoyed the book's imaginative plot. The idea that Chris and Becky had made up this place, and that it actually existed was so cool. And it's a beautiful-sounding place, complete with unusual animals and plants. Lou Aronica does a wonderful job of writing about this world --- his writing is imaginative and descriptive, giving a clear picture of just how beautiful this place is. I actually wouldn't mind another book set entirely here. I appreciated that the trouble that Tamarisk was facing is something that is a real-life issue for any place (and this really isn't a spoiler): having plants that are suffering from a mysterious kind of blight. I liked that the author didn't give Tamarisk some kind of issue that would be impossible to understand --- he gave it a problem that is easy to grasp.
This was an evenly-paced book with interesting and realistic characters, and a well-developed plot. Really an enjoyable read!
** Extra bonus points for having Becky like Neil Gaiman (p. 9).
First sentence: "The soft whir of the DVD player was the only sound in the room."
Thoughts on the cover: Definitely blue. I like how it almost looks like we're looking at tree branches through a blue filter, and how there are two sprays of leafy vines at the top and bottom. Very subtle.
CONTEST!!!This is straight from the publicist for this book tour: How often do you hear about something that sounds too good to be true? Well, I am here to offer 10 lucky winners the opportunity of a lifetime. New York Times bestselling co-author, novelist, and former Publisher of Avon Books and Berkley Books, Lou Aronica has created a unique and exciting offer to anyone that is going to follow his upcoming book tour with Pump Up Your Book. His extensive experience in the publishing and editing fields has given him insight into an industry that continues to grow and change daily. Once again, that insight has led him to offer a contest that is truly special in so many ways. Lou will be accepting story pitches from followers of his blog tour. These story pitches must be for short stories pertaining to the fantasy world of his novel, “Blue.”
Now for the details:The pitch should include a synopsis of the proposed story and a sample of the submitting author’s fiction writing. Specify the expected length of the story.
The pitch needs to be submitted by April 16, 2011
Please email your submission to Lou at firstname.lastname@example.org
All winners will be notified by email by May 27, 2011.