Saturday 25 October 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl Who Came Back to Life by Craig Staufenberg

The Girl Who Came Back to Life
Author: Craig Staufenberg
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy / Adventure
Publication Date: April 16th, 2014

Book Description:
A book about love and loss, and how to live in a world filled with both...

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father's spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother-by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans-Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons-what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.

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I was very much looking forward to reading this book as the blurb sounded so interesting and different from anything I'd read lately. The introductory chapters got off to a good start with insights into the City of the Dead and the journey one takes north to Send their loved ones to the next world. Of course, 12-year-old orphan Sophie has a different objective in mind and so begins her pilgrimage. I thought I was in for quite the exciting coming of age adventure, but, sadly, what was presented was the promise of a breathtaking tale that never quite took off from the ground.

I liked the beginning, but as I got a few chapters into the first act, I quickly realised that the story wasn't having quite the impact on me as it should have. I always know within the first few chapters of a book if the story's right up my street, so when my interest started to wane in the first act, I knew this wasn't my cup of tea. I found the events in the first act to be rather repetitive and stagnant. I found myself struggling to continue reading, but I did, which I feel was the right decision for there were moments in the book that I found to be pleasantly enjoyable, such as the influence the other characters had on Sophie and the struggle she had with her grandmother due to their mutual stubbornness. Another thing I liked was the fact that Sophie was wise beyond her years. I always appreciate and admire the intellect of a young mind, so I liked Sophie's portrayal.

It wasn't until the end of the fourth act that the story started to demand my attention, but, it still didn't evoke much emotion in me. I love a good fairytale, but that's usually because those stories allow my imagination to grow. This one, unfortunately, didn't. The dominant, passive point of view made it difficult for me to form an objective opinion on the characters and, thus, it was unsatisfying to experience the story in this way, for I felt as though I was observing through a peephole and not able to fully immerse myself in the story. I couldn't visualise the journey or the characters. The world didn't come alive.

Furthermore, the issue that was present throughout the story, and one I couldn't manoeuvre around, was the fact that the sophistication of Sophie's character didn't match the patronising air of the narrative voice. I really wanted to love this story, but it wasn't meant to be.



Award: Bronze
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Source: Review copy via CBB Promotions

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