August 13, 2012

Wigs Reviews Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Jennifer Bradbury
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 3

Description from Goodreads: 

"Agnes Wilkins has attracted the attention of one of 19th-century England's most eligible men. When Agnes unwittingly pockets an Egyptian artifact during a mummy unwrapping party, her action sets off a chain of events that bring out dangerous characters--and true love."

2.5 stars, really. I wavered between 2 and 3 stars and I thought, if I were a teacher I'd probably give this a low C, and if 5 stars is A, 4 is B, etc, then 3 is fine. The main issue, for me, was the deceptive description. It was so vague, that what I thought was going to be a book about Egyptology and mummies and such turned out to be a book on Napoleon and espionage and British patriotism. And it wasn't what I wanted. 

The first half of the book felt bland. I didn't care about anything. The lackluster opening scene didn't help at all, she certainly could have chosen anything more gripping than trying on a dress with your mom. And the following chapter which describes the mummy unwrapping party, I felt like I didn't get to hear about the mummy at all and it was mostly about English party etiquette. There was no description where I wanted it to be. And then we launch into our espionage story and I was like oh. But wait, Egypt? 

When we do get back to Egyptology, which is like halfway through the book, it's only on an elementary level, and any kid who had an Egyptology fetish when they were 8 will have already heard this stuff. "This hook takes the brain through the nose." "The scarab is a dung beetle." Blah blah blah. I dunno I was just like what is happening and why is it so basic?

The strangest thing to me was just the oddball habit that the author chose for her character. It's really awkward when the author thinks the character is being cute and you're like "what?" So the character is obsessed with languages, which is fine I guess since it has a bit to do with the story and its ending. However, the character is also obsessed with Jane Austen (which is done to death, but okay.) And she has a weird habit of quoting barely relevant quotes of Jane Austen in different languages at people when she's upset. Oh okay what now? That's uh...pretty strange there. It would have been much 'cuter' if, say, she slipped accidentally into a different language when getting upset, instead of like Jane Austen quotes layered on top of that? It just felt weird and forced and completely inhuman. Like a broken robot or something. Stop with the weirdo quirks.

I tell you what, I am close to swearing off of YA. I just...can't anymore.

But were there any good things? I guess. By the second half things started to get better, there were some nice moments I suppose, like when the character goes out in male drag at night to be in disguise. The love interest is cute enough and appropriate for the protagonist. There was a twist at the end I didn't see coming, I think maybe other people could have guessed by I didn't til close to the end, maybe just because I didn't care to guess either way, haha. The author did a good job at keeping most of the scenes relevant to the overall plot and didn't wander too much, and I would say there wasn't anything wrong with the prose style, although it lacked any sort of flourish as well. 

Basically, it's not too good and it's not too bad. It's just there. If the first half hadn't been so boring, and I had cared more for the characters, and if I had been more aware of what the plot was even going to be about before I read it, instead of expecting a book more about Egyptology, I would have liked it better. But since it was more about an English debutante and being British and French spies and Jane Austen I was just like...meh. If that sounds like something you care about than go for it, but otherwise, don't bother.

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