Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book review - The Wooden Prince

Title: Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince
Author: John Claude Bemis
Genre: fantasy/retelling
Similar books: The Peddler's Road by Matthew Cody
                     Stravaganza by Mary Hoffman
Interesting but not my favorite

Summary (provided by publisher): The automa Pinocchio has always been duty-bound to serve in the floating palace of Venice's emperor. So when Pinocchio finds himself locked in a trunk and delivered to a new master-a wanted criminal and alchemist named Geppetto-he is curious about everything around him. But most curious is the way Pinocchio seems to be changing from a wooden servant into a living, human boy. Before Geppetto and Pinocchio can uncover the mystery surrounding the automa's transformation, Pinocchio is stolen away. Determined to find Geppetto again, Pinocchio begins a harrowing journey across the Empire, where danger in the form of half-beast outlaws and winged airmen abounds for a lost automa.
Meanwhile, Princess Lazuli, the daughter of the ruler of a magical kingdom called Abaton, is also on a quest through the emperor's territory. Her father, Prester John, has been captured by the Venetian Empire, and Lazuli is desperate to rescue him. With the emperor's airmen closing in fast, Lazuli learns the only hope for saving her father-and her beloved home-lies in Pinocchio and Geppetto. In a masterful reimagining of Pinocchio, John Claude Bemis weaves an enchanting, thrilling adventure for middle-grade readers in the first installment in the Out of Abaton duology.

My Opinion: This is an intriguing twist on the Pinocchio story. If one is familiar with the original book rather than the Disney movie, one will recognize many of the individual elements in this book. Not ho  they are put together, though. Not their purposes or motivations. Mostly just the characters and general locations. Pinocchio does end up a part of a puppet show,  though even this serves an entirely different purpose in this novel. Even Pinocchio has different motivations. In the original story Pinocchio is learning what it  means to be real, to be human. Both good and bad. He learns selfishness, pleasure, and self-sacrifice. This is the point of the original book. Bemis' Pinocchio is naturally virtuous. He always makes the right choice, or at least the wrong choice for the right reason. 
Out of Abaton features a fascinatingly complex world but a less pleasing plot. Not a book for the casual reader.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

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