Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: The Storyteller

Book being reviewed: The Storyteller
I give this book:
4 out of 5 owls. 

The Storyteller

Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different.  They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town.  Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own.  Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces.  It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality.  Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer.  Has she?

Award-winning author Antonia Michaelis moves in a bold new direction with her latest novel: a dark, haunting, contemporary story that is part mystery, part romance, and part melodrama.

There is so much that can be said about this book and I just don't even know where to begin.   I guess I can start by saying that this book is completely out there in a multitude of ways, ways that one might say shouldn't be considered young adult content.  It's possible that the adult content within the book is due to the author being German. I know different countries have different viewpoints on what is adult and what isn't.  Usually young adult novels written by American authors stick to story content that most Americans would deem appropriate for a young person to read, and, in my opinion, The Storyteller definitely crosses that thin line.

Don't get me wrong, in no way am I bashing the book, I'm just stating my opinion after having read a countless number of young adult novels.  This book consists of a somewhat detailed rape between the two main characters, Anna and Abel, and also another somewhat detailed account of a sexual interaction between the two.  This book is very dark, and the light and happy moments are few and far between.

The relationship between Abel and Anna is a strange one.  As much as I liked the book, I didn't really like either of the main characters (I know, this makes absolutely no sense).  There were so many times I wanted to knock some sense into Anna.   I know they say love is blind, but in Anna's case, I think she lost every single one of her senses when it came to Abel.  The first red flag for me was when I knew Anna had fallen deliriously in love with this boy, but she didn't know ANYTHING about him. Seriously, NOTHING about him.  He continually lied to her and never revealed any of his dark secrets when she would question him.  I just didn't understand how she could let it all go so easily and love him unconditionally.

Then there's the major problem of him actually raping her.  Because of the way the book was written, you didn't find out who the REAL Abel was until the last few pages of the book.  Truthfully, I actually liked that the reader is left in suspense and confused until the very end, but I kept thinking that because of the fairytale that Abel told all throughout the book, there might be a paranormal factor that played into his raping Anna, as if he was possessed by some sort of evil.  Not that that would excuse him from taking Anna's virginity by rape, I just hoped that there was more to it than what met the eye... and there wasn't a paranormal factor, he had the choice and he didn't stop himself.

Then in the aspect of most YA novels having a hero who comes to the aid of the lead female character, Abel wasn't the hero.  Now, of course, he could be considered Micha's hero after sacrificing himself for her on top of murdering anyone who he thought could be directly involved with his little sister being taken away from him.  But as for him ever saving Anna? I think it was Anna who continually came to Abel's rescue throughout the book.

And Abel being a murderer is another factor I don't quite understand.  Anna had her suspicions that Abel was the murderer and still chose to love him despite those suspicions.  I think Anna was living in her own fantasy world that was fueled by the fairytale.  Gitta's "little lamb" nickname for Anna was perfect because she was naive like a young child would be and ignored all those warning signs about Abel that were practically slapping her in the face over and over again.

In all honesty, I think Anna and Abel connected and their relationship bloomed more through the fairytale Abel told, while living solely on hope in the real world.  I, too, read through hoping that something more would come, that these two would actually run away with Micha and live happily ever after, and maybe, just maybe, Abel didn't actually rape her, maybe Abel isn't the murderer. Yeeeaaaah.... that didn't happen.  As I recall, as soon as I finished reading the last page, I shut the book, then proceeded to stare off at nothing while trying to wrap my brain around what just happened.  Two days later and I still can't comprehend the dark ending of the book, or all the dark content within the book.

That all aside, I still loved the book.  It didn't end in the usual happily ever after way that makes you want to dance around while singing and smiling to yourself like an idiot.  Not that I've ever done that, but you know, there are those books out there that have that effect on you.  This book left me speechless and sad, confused and angry.  Such a strange combination for a book that I actually enjoyed reading.  I guess what I'm getting to is, if you choose to pick up this book, just remember that it isn't an easy read.  You may cry, feel like screaming, and become angry all while hanging onto that hope that it will turn out better in the end. Trust me, it won't.

Confused and in need of some lighter reading material,
until next time, Bookworms,

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