Thursday, May 22, 2008

Siberia by Ann Halam

Sloe is hardened, bitter, and completely alone in the world. But things weren't always that way. Once, she was Rosita- a happy and curious child entranced by the chill and rustic appliances of the Settlement plains. But the final part of that hopeful little girl died when her scientist mother disappeared/was arrested. The woman's sudden missing status catapults 13-year-old Sloe into a world of anger, fear, fairy tale, and a forbidden science her mother has made her swear to protect.

She must make a difficult and arduous journey and escape from a vile academy, the slave trade, a traitorous angel, and everything she has allowed herself to become. Lugging a lab kit and years of Siberia grown shell, Sloe ventures bravely across the ices and into a conspiracy much greater than herself. Can one person protect a world-changing secret, even against the all-seeing eyes of the government? And the fragile creatures growing in her portable chemistry kit... are they beings of science or magic?

I knew by page 150 that there was no longer any hope for me. The plot was complex to a point where it descended into near complete confusion. My brain spent so much time trying to use the descriptions of animals and things and give them manifestation in the real world, that it could barely focus on the struggles of the characters. Due to Sloe's hard exterior, I had nearly given up on her by the page mentioned above and was very pleased to see her soften and learn just shortly after. But it was almost too late. After completing the story, I am satisfied with the character development, but not truly happy.

All the same, there was great redemption to be found in Ann Halam's beautiful writing. I knew that from the Prologue. Her descriptions of "Siberia" are brilliant and the landscape is laid right before you as you read. For this fact I both completed the novel and reconsidered my rating.

4 out of 7 Lightnings. Square in the middle, I believe. And that's where this novel sat. It wasn't bad or all that disappointing. Nor was it excellent and laudable. It was good. Just good.

Pleased? and Still Trying to Comprehend,

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