Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep

EMILY WINDSNAP AND THE MONSTER FROM THE DEEP: For middle-grade female readers

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep is the second book in the Emily Windsnap series. Emily Windsnap and her family just moved to Allpoints Island, and she still has the same fears of not belonging and being different. To gain the approval of the dwellers of the island, she went to a lagoon that wasn’t supposed to be explored, only to unwittingly awaken a monster from the deep.

I have mixed feelings for this book. I can’t decided whether it’s better or not than its predecessor, The Tail of Emily Windsnap. This book has some points that are better, and some points that are worse, and, of course, some points that are neutral.

The neutral points are the writing and the prose. They have the same upsides and downsides when compared to the first book. Upside -- the book is easy to understand because it is middle-grade. Downside -- the style lacks distinctiveness and the words used tend to be over-descriptive, sacrificing the pacing in some instances.

The better point is the story. The story is just much more thrilling, because it involves factors that could affect the world of Emily Windsnap in a grand scale. I mean, this book tackles a monster after all, a monster that could cause devastation. And when you compare this plot element to the main plot elements of The Tail of Emily Windsnap, this is inherently more stimulating.

Overall, the story feels more like a long novella than a novel, if that makes sense. The story is driving to a very specific direction every chapter, and even though there are only a few threads to weave in the story, it remains engaging -- as I said, this is because of the scale of the consequences.

Another thing I like is the conflict between characters, particularly the conflict between Emily and Shona. It just adds more depth. It’s not necessarily a subplot, but it does add threads to weave in the story. We also get to see an interesting perspective on Mandy, which is nice.

As for the illustrations, I admit that I’m a little indifferent to them, so I think it is unfair to classify them as a worse point. But when you think of it, the fact that I neglected them could be a sign of them being bad, don’t you think? Or maybe they’re not just my cup of tea. To avoid controversy, I’ll just say that they’re a neutral point.

The book’s worse points are the morals of the story and the characterization. But wait, don’t get me wrong. The book has some good morals, mostly involving friendship, and Liz Kessler (the author) has some interesting attempts to add depth to the characters. This is particularly obvious in Shona and Mandy.

But as much as I appreciate her attempts, I think she has failed on adding real depth to the characters. Yes, she has added depth, but not enough to make these characters compelling.

My problem with the morals is how they have been portrayed. How the story emphasized friendship and forgiveness is not pulled off quite well, not to mention that it doesn’t really open the characters to sufficient character development.

But let us remember that this is a middle-grade book, and how these morals are executed is actually passable for the middle-grade audience.

Overall, I think Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep is a cute read. It has a very vivid world to share, and this world will easily be loved by the readers, especially the female readers because of its feminine sensibilities. The characters may not be solid, but the prominent ones have some depth to keep things going. This lush imagery and middle-of-the-road characters are portrayed in a story that has interesting morals to share. This is recommendable, particularly to the female middle grade audience.

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