Monday, July 21, 2008

Peeled by Joan Bauer

Aaaah. The country homesy feeling. The apple trees swaying in the wind. A town ghost. A small-time newspaper. For some reason, this entire novel felt like Little House on the Prairie goes upstate New York. And I couldn't shake the feeling.

Hildy Biddles father is dead. But she can remember him through the art of journalism that he loved so well in life. So when the town ghost starts acting up more than usual (knocking small people off of their bikes, appearing in windows, leaving sharpied signs on the front lawn, etc.), she knows she must report the truth for the good of the town. Unfortunately, she only has access to the school newspaper and who would ever take her word over that of the illustrious Pen Piedmont of the town newspaper, The Bee? Is there more to the town ghost than meets the eye? Or has it simply been blown out of proportion and propagandated to sell papers? It seems as if it is all up to Hildy to find out.

I read many positive reviews of this novel and was eager to get started reading it. And when I saw the cover, I was even more intrigued (yes yes. I am one of those people who has an initial reaction based on the cover of a book -sigh-). So I took it out and started. The beginning was alright and I read on. But that was it. It was just alright. I had trouble finding anything that really inspired me or interested me to a point beyond meer polite attention span until the last few chapters. And by that point it was already too late.

I found Hildy to be something of an unbelievable character. She seemed so perfect and obsessed with the legacy of her town. Think Trixie Belden or a younger Nancy Drew. No serious flaws, just some fluff to carry out a plotline. And the characters around her weren't much better. I felt they just weren't any deeper than the page they were on. And I have loved Joan Bauer's work in the past, which made this read all the more disappointing for me.

The plot seemed uncreative and overused. A discarded (or re-run) episode of the Waltons (which I happen to think is a great show). And I say with great sadness that I was wanting so much more overall.

Still, the way the town banded together against the evils of big-city ideals was classic and fun to read at times. It seems that tons of books these days are vampire-slayer-zombie-werewolf-evil faerie- slam bang- alchoholics- suspense- crazy romance fiction. Reading Peeled was almost refreshing in its aura of "sweetness". So I would save it for a rainy afternoon when it's just sitting on the shelf, not expecting (or desiring) more than the quaint, back-country tale it is.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 7 lightnings.

Ze end.

Aella Siofra


Anonymous said...

"vampire-slayer-zombie-werewolf-evil faerie- slam bang- alchoholics- suspense- crazy romance fiction"

That, right there, my favorite genre. Well, maybe if you take out "alcoholics" and put in, like, "New York City."
...because i am a cynical person who reads books with sweet characters and tells them they should go beserk or something. because i have problems.

Medeia said...

I mostly agree on that one Sera... just add "betrayal-deception-filled with freakin awesome characters-lots of explosions"

Sweet characters would be so much more interesting if they went berserk.

Anonymous said...

and "excellent banter-y dialouge", of course.

I always want to see how far you can push the sweet character until they one day snap and scream in everyone's faces and perhaps punch people in the face.

Medeia said...

Of course, excellent banter-y dialogue is a must.

That would be absolutely hilarious. It should happen way more often than it does.

Anonymous said...

I am a person who flips through boring books looking for dialogue and I am NOT ASHAMED of this.

Yeah. I've got this theory that if I whisper "go beserk...flip out...go psycho...c'mon!" to the screen/page enough, it will.

Reviewer X said...

Good review, Aella. I agree with the vast majority of it -- I quite enjoyed this one, but it's not exactly memorable. Like you said, the plot does have an overused feel to it.