zomg, a book review! We’re super glad you’re still with us. Katie started school and my semester is a tad overbooked. But I’ve read a book that deserves a review — if only cause it doesn’t come out until the end of the month and I want to share.
As you good followers probably know, I love history. And I especially love history with a twist. Katie Alender’s debut novel gives both. Yay!
Author: Katie Alender
Reader’s Age: 14+ (mild violence, but nothing too graphic)
Genre: Mystery with a dash of history.
Keywords: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killers, Paris France, Family Legacy
Release Date: September 24, 2013.
Collette Iselin can’t wait for her trip to Paris, the City of Lights. She’s excited to get lost in the history, the fashion, the Frenchness. She hopes that her week-long class trip will be just what she needs to forget about her depressing state of life — her father just left her family and she lives with her mother and brother in a tiny apartment now. Collette’s best friends, Hannah and Pilar, are two of the wealthiest girls at her private school. Collette will do anything to make sure she doesn’t fall off their social radar — even if Hannah makes Regina George look like an angel.
Before leaving for France, Collette finds a medallion hidden in an old box that belonged to her great-grandmother on her father’s side. The medallion, it turns out, belonged to one of Marie Antoinette’s very best friends. And her biggest betrayer.
In France, meanwhile, a series of brutal murders — beheadings to be exact — have been happening. All the victims are young, prestigious members of the upper class. When Collette unearths the truth about her family’s history, will she be next?
There are things I liked and things I didn’t like. The things I liked: the historical aspect of it. I love Marie Antoinette’s history, so this was a treat. Though I didn’t like how she was accused of being so…mean and violent. However, Alender does a good job of wrapping the story together for the reader at the climatic scene, so it works out. (Although I think the resolution was a little too clean).
While the message of the novel is to not let others determine your future and personality, Alender’s characters were transparent. Hannah fit into the classic Mean Girl mold, with her trusty sidekick Pilar who was extremely self-conscious. Audrey was the classic Goody-Two-Shoes who is snubbed by the popular girls. And Jules is the exotic Frenchman who makes Collette see her wrong ways. All these things will bore older readers, who are passed these classic character archetypes, but younger readers will still relish it.
I also didn’t like that this wasn’t based in history as much as I wish it was. Many authors do base their writing in historical fact, though twisting things to their own devices. Alender gives a clear note at the end that nothing is true but the places and the death of Marie Antoinette. I was disappointed to find there was no true secret society out to protect her.
The themes make it a great choice for book group, which I will consider adding it to the list for After the Last Page’s book group in the future.
In general, I think this is a good novel for younger teens. The violence isn’t graphic and it’s rarely explained. More, it’s a soul-searching, coming of age novel that teen girls will eat up. Especially those who like Lisi Harrison and Kate Brian.
Rating… 6/10 stars.