Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review: The Prophecy of the Sisters

Author: Michelle Zink
Genre: Historical/Fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Age Range: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2009
My Rating: ★★★ 1/2 out of 5

When I came across this title while I was browsing through Barnes and Noble and I became intrigued by the synopsis. A lot of other readers gave it good scores as well, so I picked up a copy for my Nook.

The Prophecy of the Sisters is the author's debut novel and the first book in the series of the same name. Set in 1890s New York, it tells the story of twin sisters Amalia [Lia] and Alice Milthorpe, orphaned at the beginning of the book. After the death of their father under mysterious circumstances, an equally strange mark appears on Lia's wrist. Readers are then introduced to the Prophecy, to which the destinies of the twin sisters are tied.

Here is an excerpt from the Barnes and Noble synopsis:
"...Lia, who bears the mark of the Jorgumand (a snake devouring itself) on her wrist, soon learns that she and her twin sister, Alice, are fated to play crucial opposing roles in a mystical struggle that goes back to the dawn of time; unfortunately neither girl is temperamentally suited to the role she has been assigned."
I liked the main premise of the story, being fascinated with prophecies and all. According to the author in this interview, the prophecy is based on "...a biblical legend about a legion of angels called the Watchers that were sent to watch over mankind. In the legend, the Watchers fell in love with mortal women and so were banished. After that, they weren’t called the Watchers anymore but the Lost Souls... With that in mind, I fast-forwarded the legend a couple thousand years and asked what would happen if the descendants of those original mortal women had to pay a price for their ancestor’s relationships with the angels..."

But as with any story, I rely on the characters to pull me in. I consider them the heart and soul of any good work of fiction. One of the things I liked most about the book was how the nature of the characters were slowly revealed. Lia for instance, narrates the story. She is portrayed here as a teenage girl, in love with a boy, but also struggling with other responsibilities as a typical girl would. I like that the author doesn't make her out to be overly naive, or the type who misses out on things that are right in front of her. She is bright and determined, but not overly so, as she also struggles with some self-doubt and fear.

Also, I absolutely loved how the author portrayed the other sister, Alice. The mystery surrounding her is revealed gradually with an element of darkness, making for your good old love-to-hate antagonist. You get this feeling of being in danger in the presence of Alice as though you are truly seeing through Lia's eyes. But it is still obvious in the story that Alice has her own inner conflicts that she is battling against, that she is not written in just to be the evil counterpart. She does bad things because that is her "real nature", but somehow her love for her sister makes her think twice. Or at least until the end of the first book. It's good that the author also explores the role the relationship between the sisters plays in the unfolding of the Prophecy.

I think it was the intention of the author to write in the first person perspective so that the reader would feel a deeper connection with Lia. However my problem is that although the story gets really good when exciting events occur, when it's boring it really gets dragging. I actually almost nodded off at one point. There were some parts that were too well-explained, and some parts that were explained only in passing. Some problems also felt too easily and conveniently solved. The ending though really got me to shed tears. The novel is effective in taking readers through Lia's emotional roller coaster but only near the end of the book.

For the most part, it felt like an extremely long teaser. But all in all, it isn't a bad debut novel. The idea is good, sustained by developing characters. It's interesting enough for me to consider picking up the second book just to see what happens next.

No comments:

Post a Comment