Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: The Tail of Emily Windsnap

THE TAIL OF EMILY WINDSNAP: For those who choose story over prose

The Tail of Emily Windsnap is the first book in the Emily Windsnap series. Emily has lived in a boat all her life, and oddly enough, her mother seems anxious to keep her away from the water. When Emily is finally allowed to take swimming lessons, she discovers that she is actually a mermaid. She goes on an adventure in the seas, trying to search for her mysterious origins.

This book is primarily targeted for ages nine to twelve, so the writing is very simplistic. It is pretty easy to speed-read, because the words and the sentence construction are suited for easy comprehension. But I do think that the style can still be improved, because it lacks a certain distinctiveness.

However, I think that the style has its own appeals, thanks to the fish puns and whatnots.

The story is brimming with potential. It is the kind that could create very vivid images, while still being able to incorporate themes that involve family and friendship. The vivid imagery is primarily carried by the lush scenery of the seaside. The story is set by the sea. And the familial and friendly themes are inherently embedded in the story -- they are actually the core of the story. That’s not surprising, considering the target audience of the book.

But this potential is not exploited fully. Some plot elements are not pulled off quite well, and that is mainly because of the writing. Really, the writing in this book ruins a lot of things. Liz Kessler, the author, has the tendency to become over-descriptive, sacrificing the pacing of the story. Some of the dialogues she has written also don’t trigger the emotional responses they seem to want to trigger, especially in the later parts of the book.

Even looking at the story and disregarding the prose, there are still problems. The story has some predictable twists and turns, and there are also some incredible coincidences that seem to exist only to drive the plot to the right direction.

It’s also important to note that this book has some minor illustrations by Sarah Gibb. They’re a good tool to improve the imagery. But the book’s imagery is already inherently good, because it is set by the sea, so the illustrations are just there for enhancement and additional entertainment value.

As for the characters, I think they have very interesting surface-level personalities, but I’m afraid that’s all the personalities they have -- surface-level. They don’t have sufficient depth to pass as well-moulded characters. But I admit that some of them are enjoyable, especially Millie and her New Age stuff, and Shona and her quirky personality.

The main character, Emily Windsnap, is a bit angsty too. But this is understandable. Again, considering the target audience of the book, this kind of character is very relatable.

Despite the negative things I said, I actually like The Tail of Emily Windsnap. The story is entertaining. The chapters are well-divided and well-paced. But the real problem I have with the story is, as I mentioned earlier, the predictability and tendency to have incredible coincidences.

Even though the writing somewhat ruins the lush scenery and the familial and friendly themes, they are still there, ready to be appreciated by those who are not so picky in terms of prose. If you’re the kind of person that wants to dive into a vibrant world and disregards the writing style, this book is for you. The Tail of Emily Windsnap will surely entertain you, with its themes of what it really means to have family and friends.

            Related posts:
            Book Review: Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep

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