Monday, February 28, 2011

The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker



Annie has never been beautiful.  Not compared to most people - and especially not compared to her sister Gwendolyn, who is the most beautiful princess in the whole world.  Annie is normal - ordinary, as some people might call it.  When her sister Gwendolyn was a baby, she was cast under a spell by a fairy who said when Gwendolyn was 16 she would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die.  Another fairy changed it the spell so that she would only fall asleep for 100 years until her true love came to the castle and kissed her.  This lessened their parents fear, for a while...until Annie comes along and they decide that they couldn't bear to have something go wrong for Annie as well.  So they call a good fairy, who casts a spell on Annie so that the girl would NEVER be affected by magic.  So Annie grows up, simpler than your average town folk, always having to stay away from her family, or else her magic-repellent-body would cause their magic to fade temporarily.  But when the old prophetic curse comes to past, and Annie is the only one inside the castle who is not affected by the magic that would have put her to sleep, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find her sister's true love so the quest can be broken...and she may even discover love for herself on the way.

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I started out with this book thinking, "There's no stinking way that this book can hold a whole, developed story, when it's so short, small, and doesn't have itty bitty letters."  Oh, I was so wrong.  E. D. Baker has a way of wording things - to the point.  Not boring, just...really toned.

And honestly, as I went along, I was shocked (pleasantly so) by the amount of information carried in this story, this tiny story.  Annie was well-developed; I felt like I was her friend from the start.  She's lonely and wants others to not call her ordinary, just because she can't make herself look perfect by magic. She wishes to be a part of her family - and yet she's forced to stand far away from everyone in case her presence affects the magic and causes everyone else to look ordinary as well.  She's brave and wants to help, despite all her misfortunes.

So she embarks, and her adventure is greater than she (or I) could ever have imagined.  She is accompanied by the castle's newest guard, Liam, who was outside the castle when Gwendolyn pricked her finger on a spinning wheel.  She meets princes, affronts witches, enters contests...and falls in love.  Could anyone ever ask for a better adventure?

The way this book is executed is just amazing...  Like I said, I hadn't expected there to be so much to it, but there was, and it went at a PERFECT pace.  There were more fairytales woven into this story than I can count, along with a lot of hilarious "my fair maiden!" and "I must rescue my ladylove!" that had me giggling out loud.  I liked Liam, but I felt that his charater was awkward for the first half of the book.  I didn't quite know what to think of him...he was just kind of a boring character.  But then it got better and he grew on me...of course...like every handsome love interest should.

The only thing I didn't like was the last couple of pages.  Something happened that felt too short...I felt that the story was resolved well, just not that scene.  It was like, boom! and then it was over.... However, it wasn't bad enough for me to not recommend it.  In fact, I totally recommend this book!

Favorite character:  Annie.  She was just adorable!  Voracia comes in second.  She made me laugh and cower at the same time...weird combination, I know, but she did.  She was frightening, and yet so hilarious in her own way.

Favorite aspect:  The culture of the story.  It was well-thought out and very original.  All the fairytales fit perfectly together and added up to equal an incredibly original world, despite the fact that practically the whole world already knows these stories.  Very impressed.

One word to sum this book up:  I wanted to write something like sweet, or cute, or silly, or adorable, or adventurous...  Yes, it is all these things, but the best one word that I can think of is cunning.  I was totally surprised by how clever the writing and story were.  Definitely a great read and recommended to everyone who loves a great story!  (Ages 8 and up could read this book and really grasp it, I think.)

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