Monday, October 31, 2011

Wildwood by Colin Meloy (Wildwood #1)

Wildwood by Colin Meloy
Pages:  541
Release Date:  August 30th, 2011
Date Read:  2011, September 21st-28thReceived:  Own
Rating:  3/5 stars
Recommended to:  11+
Barnes and Noble

Summary -
The day Mac was kidnapped started out as a good, normal day.  But when the murder of crows descended and Prue watched as they lifted her baby brother off the ground, her day went from good to bad.  And then from bad to worse when they disappeared into the Impassable Wilderness, a place where no one ever goes.  Prue can't possible tell her parents what has happened - she can't quite believe it herself! - so she knows immediately that she must venture into the Impassable Wilderness to find her brother, never suspecting what new friends and ugly terrors might lay in those woods.

My thoughts -
As Colin Meloy is a favorite singer/songwriter of mine, I was naturally ecstatic when I discovered he was coming out with a book.  Colin's stories in his songs have never been anything but fantastical, and I've always wanted him to write a book.  I got my wish - but things didn't end up quite as 5-star-he's-a-genius as I'd hoped.

For the record, I enjoyed myself.  There were many scenes that had me riveted and were quite original and/or funny.  However...

For one, the descriptions were lengthy.  Too lengthy, in my opinion.  At first they were beautiful and everything was perfect; but then he just kept going with them, a lot about plants and trees, and I'm thinking, "It's the Impassable Wilderness.  There are tons of plants.  Plants everywhere.  And there are pictures, too, that show tons of greenery.  So, does he really need to keep describing?"

So the beginning was great.  The middle was slow.  All the plant details and lots of getting from on place to another.  More details.  Then, the end.  It was a fun end, well-crafted, and had a great battle.  A few secrets were let out and it was all a great hurrah!  (Well, besides that lame end to Curtis's story.  I hope he's in the second one to make up for that?)

Character notes -
Prue and Curtis were, seriously, great characters.  I loved them, and found that I connected with them.  I noticed a small glitch in Prue (she started out as an indifferent teenager and suddenly became a grateful and super loving and protective older sister), but I could only enjoy her company throughout the novel.  She was quite a catch and very willing to do the right thing, as was Curtis.

While Meloy's descriptions sometimes got out of hand, they were never more enjoyable than when he was describing characters.  The humans, the land animals, the birds... It wasn't hard to picture them at all, with all their differences and strange clothes and/or funny character handles.

Story notes -
This story is bizarre, with a fascinating air of originality and a dark undertone.  It had the feel I'd wanted, but was a bit slower than I'd hoped.  I very mournfully contemplated giving it a break about twice.  (I'd have picked it up again later...)  But I'm glad i finished it all the way through.  It could have been cut down at least fifty pages, and I wish the battle scenes had been more personal, instead of a lot of general action, but it was so fun nonetheless.

In many ways it reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia, what with the talking animals, one character being deceived by a witch, and a magic forest, but it was also very much it's own story.  I was able to appreciate it, even when I was disappointed that I didn't fall madly in love.

Summing it up -
Descriptive - great, good, and bad.  I definitely enjoyed myself and would like to read Meloy's next book in the Wildwood trilogy - although this time I probably won't spend $17.00 on it; I'll go buy his CD's instead.

For the parents -
Violence and excessive drinking among the coyotes.  Parents may want to take a look at the violence for themselves, because not every 11-year-old likes scary witches.  11+


  1. I had contemplated reading this one, and while I think I still will, I don't think it is as urgent as it once was. It's a shame that the plot became saggy near the middle. That's always difficult when you're trying so hard to enjoy a book. I do like the promising character descriptions that you have described, though. Thanks for a great review. Very informative. :-)

  2. It's a really fine line for an author to walk... giving us enough of a description for us to be able to visualize the setting and characters, and being too descriptive and losing us. I agree with Marla... I've had a few books that I have DNR'd when I hit a lull in the middle. It's so hard to get past that!

    I'm glad you stuck with it and enjoyed the book. Thanks for the honest review. I appreciate that you didn't sugar coat it, but said what you liked and what you didn't.

    Louise @ Between the Covers

  3. It's commendable that you stuck through and finished the book. If I put it down...chances are HIGH I will NOT pick it back up...even if I mean to. It's also wonderful that you put this review out there honestly. As book reviewers/bloggers that is the best we can do. Hopefully the author will take something away from it.

    I personally do not do well with heavy descriptions. I think descriptions are best served as part of actions. I want the movie to play in my head. I do NOT want still frame photos that I have to construct as I read.

    It is also difficult when the characters have drastic personality changes without a dramatic identifying cause. Sudden death of parents might cause a young selfish kid to suddenly "see the light" but without an explanation of the change...readers are left wondering. It takes readers out of the story and that should be the last goal of any fiction book.

  4. Thanks for the comment and for reading! :)  I'm glad you found the review helpful.

  5. So true!  That's a great way to look at it! :)

  6. Thanks for the comment!  I totally agree with you and that's why it was so hard to love this book like I wanted.

  7. Yeah, I too want to see it in my mind. One of the reasons, I almost never like the movie version of a book