Friday, August 20, 2010

Eyes Like Stars (Theatre Illuminata #1) by Lisa Mantchev

Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives in a theater. An enchanted theater no less. But she is about to be forcibly removed from her magical home full of Fictional Characters Come To Life because, despite being the beloved orphan of the Theatre Illuminata, she is a total prankster and the Stage Manager just can not handle it anymore.

So she makes a deal with the Theater Manager- she can stay so long as she contributes something important to the theater. She's no actress, so she takes up directing (to the dismay of all characters whom insist they need no directorial support seeing as they are the character that was written). Then somehow, I can't remember at the moment as it's a Friday afternoon, but this Really Important Book is compromised and the characters can leave the theater - which I guess I forgot to mention has been impossible to do at this point. And pretty much everything turns to Chaos!, and she sort of forms this plan at the end for how to solve it but then it just ENDS.

Was that kind of spoilery to mention that? I mean, this is labeled as Theatre Illuminata #1 so I assumed deductive logic would rule out the notion of a resolved ending.

Anyway. I'll start off by stating that I liked this book, not luurve it like I always want to, but I think I might be biased for two reasons.

1. I am no theater connoisseur. I like seeing a jolly stage production every now and again, but that is about the extent of it. Maybe I would've appreciated parts of this more if I were more of the thespian sort. Or not. Who knows.

2. The cover art is just so pretty. And I have a weakness for anything shiny, sparkly or lovely to behold. I know it has nothing to do with the content which is why you shouldn't make judgments based on the cover yada yada yada. Still makes me happy to hold a pretty book though.

Okay so, substance. It lacked some of that. The idea of the theater: creative. The characters: fun. All of it mixed together: sloppy. The plot reminded me of a badly edited low-budget film. It just didn't flow very well. I found myself re-reading scenes just to get an idea of what was happening, and that detracts from that Getting Lost In The Story feeling. It was choppy at parts and felt underdeveloped. Like maybe Matchev didn't have lots of details about the history, the environment, or the mysterious binding magic in her head.

The characters should've been developed more. As it was, I liked them all enough to be interested in them even though I never felt a real connection to them. Bertie (ugh - that was one of my hang ups. Bertie? Really? Can Beatrice not be shortened into something that doesn't sound like the village cross-eyed boy whom everyone tries to be nice to even though he is really obnoxious and slightly creepy? Come on.) - anyway, Bertie is a fun heroine. She dyes her hair whacked-out colors. She sets off minor explosions. She has Turkish baths on the stage when it suits her fancy. Plus, she's witty. And she's got these little fairies that hang about her all the time who are quite humorous as well.

"You didn't just write the play, Bertie," Peaseblossom said suddenly. "You ordered the Players about, shouted, and threw an artistic hissy fit. Do you know what that makes you?"
"A temperamental fusspot?" Mustardseed guessed.
"Crazier than a bag full of crazy?" Moth said.
"Close," Peaseblossom said. "It makes her a Director."

There's a Not Quite But Aiming To Be Love Triangle, which is hard for me to buy into because it's just so obvious whom she'll pick, but whatever. I still loved it. Partially because Nate is a Swashbuckler with a Scottish accent and a penchant for teasing.
"One o' these days, lass, I'm goin' t' still that mouth o' yers."
Um, yes please.

As I said earlier, the Non-End resolves just about nothing. I feel like my arm is being twisted to go read the next one. Which is pretty unnecessary because if the story and characters were that great than duh I would go read the next one. And I will read the next one, Perchance to Dream, with some theatrical gusto because that is what it seems to call for. Or maybe it's because the cover is even prettier.

On the whole it's a fun read but not necessarily the best read in terms of writing. It just needed MORE. I wouldn't have minded another 50 to 100 pages if we got more detail and better story flow.

3 large and brightly decorated cakes, because I laughed.
"She's under duress," Peaseblossom said.
"I don't care if she's under duress, over it, or alongside it," Moth said. "Nothing in this world supersedes cake."

Book source: Local library.

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