Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Fantasy, 354 pages
March 23rd 2010 from EgmontUSA
Brightly Woven was one of those books I found myself inexplicably excited about (there's a wizard named North?!), and as is the case with most books I get randomly excited about, it didn't quite stand up to the pressure. This isn't to say I didn't like it, because I did. Just that it suffered a bit from build-up, which left me a little wanting. But I think most people, especially the younger crowd, would enjoy this, and probably wouldn't be bothered all that much by the little things I just can't let go in life.
Things sometimes felt incomplete: too easy, too fast, in need of more defined transitions, etc. It needed a better sense of time, of the length of time, and the struggle and travel. It would have made everything seem more real and important. The romance, too, could have been more rounded, with more clearly defined transitions, rather than 'one day we're enemies (or pretending to be) and one day we're soulmates, no discussion needed'. [At the very least, without getting into spoiler territory, the idea of what Sydelle could do for North should have been addressed more, because that would raise some SERIOUS trust issues.]
And Sydelle, the main character, was a little petulant and youngish for my tastes. I sometimes wanted to smack her and say "There are more important things!" This wasn't helped by the fact that throughout the story there was this "Everybody Loves Sydelle" thing going on that had me like NOES. It's one of my absolute biggest pet peeves to take a girl who's always been "nobody" and then one day have EVERYONE IN THE WORLD seeming to be obsessed with her. So imagine my surprise when it actually ended up working for the story. There was actually a purpose and a basis for it, and I ended up giving in and saying, 'Well, okay. Yeah." (Because I'm eloquent and shit.)
But the fact is that I did like Sydelle, and I think she does grow throughout their adventure. And I did like the story, and felt that anything it was lacking in the way of development didn't really hurt it too much.
And, well...I liked North. Don't know that I should have, but I did.
It was really enjoyable for the most part, quick and engaging, and I enjoyed the world building quite a bit, despite any flaws. It had the added (unexpected) bonus of actually surprising me a few times. There were some revelations that I either wasn't expecting, or were more than I was expecting, which always makes me happy. I would love to dig in a bit more and explore Sydelle's reaction to one revelation in particular, and though I'm pretty sure this is a stand-alone, I can see room to build it into a series. And I'm sure with time and experience, any deficiencies (that I forever feel the need to mercilessly pick apart) in the writing will be smoothed over as the very young Alexandra Bracken grows into her story telling scope.