Unwritten by Tara Gilboy

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Expected publication: October 16th 2018

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Read Date: July 30th 2018

Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy

Pages: 200

Stars: 3.75 that sums 4/5

4 star

Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe.

But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draws herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy tale ending. 


review_edited

What will you do if a dark horrible fantasy story comes to life and you find out you are one of the character in the book that eventually dies? Oh I never want to be written in any kind of story after reading this.

Unwritten was a middle grade fantasy story about 12-yr-old Gracie who was desperate find out about her birthplace which was an unusual world a story. The book was mainly about battle of good vs bad within ourselves; finding true self and being what you want to be not what other says.

Characters

Gracie was grumpy, impulsive, and stubborn girl. Gracie and mom’s views looked selfish. I didn’t like the way Gracie kept blaming someone else for her action. Even her mom kept blaming Gertrude for writing a story. I mean how Gertrude could have guessed the story might come to life!! I couldn’t see any development in Gracie’s character till the very end which was a minus point about the book. Do I like her? Not sure! I just liked how she acted in the end.

The secondary characters who were also a part of Gertrude’s story were also complicated. I couldn’t point who to call good or bad till the third half of the book. It seemed like all characters were flawed and there was a touch of suspense to all of them which was plus point.

I pitied Gertrude most. I could imagine how she might have felt for being blamed of writing the story. I found her more sensible and practical person than the characters she has written.

What I liked

The plot was most interesting and instantly dragged me in the story.

Gracie and her mother were the characters from the story written by Gertrude Winters in which they we’re supposed to die. The place in the story called Bondoff was Gracie’s birth place. Gracie was having visions of things that would have happened in the story, if her parents have not taken her out of it. Ever since her mother told about Bondoff and reason of visions, Gracie was desperate to find out more about the story and what was her character in the story. In trying to get the answers, she disobeyed her mother and went to see Gertrude Winters and messed up things terribly.

It was third person narrative written from Gracie POV. I was intrigued to know the story of Gracie and her mother. World and characters were twisted and complex. There was so much unpredictability and uncertainty that hooked me till the end.

I had lot of question in first few chapters only – how the characters of the book can come alive in first place, did someone cast magic on story or something? What were the characters like in the story? How they found a way to the real world? The answers were revealed one by one in first half of the book still I couldn’t help but think what was going on. It was like as soon as the answer to one question was given the new one popped up. Book progressed so fast that it hardly gave a time to think over it.

The second half of the book was fabulously written. The twist was unimaginable. I couldn’t guess a thing. At around climax finally Gertrude revealed things about story she wrote. I so loved what she said in this part. It was utterly mind blowing.  The book became more intriguing at this point and couldn’t put down the book.

Till climax I wasn’t sure what to think about characters, whether they were good or bad. At the end the development in the Gracie was satisfactory and I loved how they all turned out and owned up their mistakes. End was unpredictable and satisfactory.

There were some insightful messages in the book that I loved-

It said about how deeply we get affected by what others say or portrays us or think or write about our character. Do we really need to know what we truly are from someone else perspective?  How having the impulse to know what people think about us, we give them more power over us. Like Gracie’s mother said, we can be what we want to be. To be good or bad depends on us.

The importance of anger management also displayed nicely in the book. The message of having control over the anger and not to let anger control over us was remarkable.

why not 5 stars

Book was too short and had a serious tone. Character development was very late in the book and it became frustrating seeing Gracie asking the same thing ‘how she was written in the story’ and acting based on it rather than finding something within herself. I’m not sure I liked her or not.

More suspense and less drama. For middle grade book I expected a bit of entertainment in the story as well.

 

conclusion

Overall, it was interesting book with dark magical plot, complex characters and insightful messages. I like it. Middle grade readers (age 8-15 yrs) will enjoy it but I cannot say about other readers.


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Author: Tara Gilboy

Tara Gilboy holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, where she specialized in writing for children and young adults. She teaches creative writing in San Diego Community College’s Continuing Education Program and for the PEN Writers in Prisons Program. Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Beloit Fiction Journal, Cricket, and other publications. She lives in San Diego, California.

Book and author details – http://www.northstareditions.com/product/unwritten/

*** Note: I received e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Publisher, author, and NetGalley. ***

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