Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Eyes Like Stars

Lisa Mantchev


All her world’s a stage. 
Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater. She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents. She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own. That is, until now. 
Enter Stage Right 
NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie. 
COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks. 
ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom. 
BERTIE. Our heroine. 
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book — an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family — and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known. 

Open Curtain 


I know the old saying is don't judge a book by its cover, but I find time and time again that what gets me to pick up a book while browsing a bookstore or a library is exactly that, the cover. Then of course I turn the book over, or open it up to read the inside jacket to learn what it's about.

The art for Eyes Like Star's cover is absolutely beautiful. If I could get a print of the cover as a poster for my room, I would. Even though it was completely the cover that got me to pick this book up, it was the synopsis that made me curious to read it. Mantchev has created a world that is so unique that the thought of it hadn't even occurred to me before. All of the Players of every play live in a magical theatre along with orphan girl who doesn't quite belong there as she is not a player herself.

The prose is very entertaining, and I enjoyed the way flashbacks were often handled by retelling them in play format.

I do admit that for the first few chapters at least I found it hard to follow who was what and why they were doing what they were doing and who all these characters are. I do think that if you are a fan of Shakespeare plays you will enjoy this book greatly and be able to follow it a bit easier.

In Depth Spoiler Review

There are two things that I really liked about this book, and that's the idea of the book and how Beatrice has to figure out how to save it and the playing out of her Origin story play. As much as I wanted to see her succeed in directing Hamlet in Egypt! When she was forced to do her own play I was ecstatic, I had guessed she was Ophelia's daughter as soon as I learned Ophelia had left the Theatre once before, but I loved seeing how Beatrice's vague memories that had romanticized everything fit into what really happened. I also think I would have enjoyed it performed as having the narrator explain things and then the characters go into more details or contradict what the narrator is romanticizing is a style I enjoy greatly.

Something that really confused me is Beatrice's relationships with Nate and Ariel. I realized that Ariel was her childhood friend, I thought Nate was her crush or possibly a love interest in general, but though she seemed to be so interested in Nate in the beginning, it was Ariel who seemed to get her in the end. And then my mind went and guessed that Nate was her father which was all kinds of wrong and I'm pretty sure I'm super wrong since Bertie's father is supposed to be all special, but I assume that she's going to go and save him in the next book and her relationship with Nate will be cleared up more.


Eyes Like Stars ended up being an incredibly interesting read. Bertie is an interesting heroine who isn't flat at all and in fact there seemed to be a depth to all of the characters. The book can feel a bit confusing at times, but it is worth it, I believe, to wade through the confusing bits so you can enjoy this world and the characters.

I recommend this book to people tired of the same old cliché stories in YA Fantasy and want to try something very original. I also recommend it to people who love Shakespeare or have every read Hamlet, Tempest and other plays because being able to know some of the characters how they are in their plays and then be amused about how they act "off stage" makes the book even more enjoyable.



Ceska said...

The word that kept coming back to me as I read it was effortless. The humor works perfectly, and the dialogue rivals Gilmore Girls--only it's a lot more genuine. The cast--and it is a large cast, since, you know, every character from every play lives in the Theater--was handled deftly, and even the minor characters shine.

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