Title: The Spindlers
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Purchased (eBook)
Evocative of Alice in Wonderland, this novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver is a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty and the enduring power of hope.
Looking across the breakfast table one morning, twelve-year-old Liza feels dread wash over her. Although her younger brother, Patrick, appears the same, Liza knows that he is actually quite different. She is certain that the spindlers—evil, spiderlike beings—came during the night and stole his soul. And Liza is also certain that she is the only one who can rescue him.
Armed with little more than her wits and a huge talking rat for a guide, Liza descends into the dark and ominous underground to save Patrick’s soul. Her quest is far from easy: she must brave tree-snakes, the Court of Stones, and shape-shifting scawgs before facing her greatest challenge in the spindlers’ lair, where more than just Patrick’s soul is at stake.
With a few exceptions (and really, that’s only an ending to a book I’m thinking of), Lauren Oliver can do no wrong. She’s one of those authors who has a brain that must be working at a million miles a minute. She can write for middle grade kids, young adults, and (soon) adults, and her stories have that diversity that some authors can only dream of. I’d imagine crawling inside of her head would be quite the experience.
While I’ve read all of Lauren’s YA books, I had only read one of her middle grade books, The Spindlers being the only one left on my list to read. I can honestly say that I loved her first middle grade book, Liesl & Po, the audiobook lending itself to my now-love of audiobooks. Now, The Spindlers doesn’t quite live up to Liesl & Po, but it’s a beast all on its own. In fact, when I started reading the story, I really didn’t have ANY idea what it was even about. I just knew it was by Lauren Oliver and that I really liked Lauren’s work.
The book is actually kind of cool. It’s a spin on the idea of changelings, kind of reminiscent of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series (of which I’ve only read the first book, but the little brother in there is in a bit of a changeling situation). I haven’t read a lot of books featuring changelings, but I can say that I’m slowly getting very interested in these kinds of stories where someone is replaced — and not by anything good.
Just as the synopsis says, it’s a bit like Alice in Wonderland, with the main character Liza falling through the rabbit hole in an attempt to find and save her brother from these “spindlers” — or, the ones who stole her brother. In her journey, she meets all sorts of strange creatures, including her main companion, a rat in a dress and makeup.
This was a fun and quick read and would definitely be a hit with a younger audience. There are plenty of twists and turns and surprises on Liza’s journey, making the story go by in a morning. My only complaint would be the ease with which Liza navigates “Below” — I felt like there could be a few more instances of danger or maybe even some more evil characters. We all love a journey full of not only highs, but lows as well.
Like I said, this book doesn’t quite live up to the fun of Liesl & Po, but it’s still a good story. Lauren Oliver is quite the storyteller and I’m interested in seeing what else she can come up with — for children, youths, and adults alike.