Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eyes Like Stars - Lisa Mantchev

Title: Eyes Like Stars
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 2009 (Hardcover)
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: February 25, 2010
Finished: February 28, 2010

All her world’s a stage. Beatrice ("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. Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience. Open Curtain.

This is probably one of the most clever and creative books I've read in a long time. As you've probably already guessed, there's a huge theatre theme that runs throughout the whole book. Beloved characters from every play ever staged, a theatre that magically changes scenes and can call it's multitude of players instantly, and a ton of terminology are just some of the unique aspects of this book. I loved how classic characters would pop up every now and then and you felt like you knew them because they acted exactly how you'd expect them to (if you're familiar with the character), and even how the non-play characters like Bertie would quote famous lines and I felt really accomplished when I recognized them. I can tell a lot of love went into this book just by those small little things, and I just love it.

I loved all the characters (meaning the non-player ones). Bertie was wonderful and down to earth, Nate was awesome with his pirate lingo, and even Ariel was devilishly enjoyable. The fairies (Moth, Cobweb, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom) completely stole the book for me, their dialogue was hilarious, and you gotta love an author who incorporates tiny little fairies mooning another character, yay for fairy butt!

The plot moves along quite quickly and there were no boring parts, at least for me. I love how there were two stories you were following: Bertie trying to redeem herself and stay at the theatre, and the ongoing backstory of how Bertie came to the theatre in the first place. This is the first book of a series, so the book ends with the intent of continuing in the second installment (due out in May 2010, called "Perchance to Dream"). I'm already marking the date in my calendar because this is one of those books I'm picking up on the release date since it was just that good. The beauty of this book was all in the writing style and the creativity of the theatre theme, you just have to experience this for yourself.

If you like uniquely written books with quirky characters (and you know a thing or two about plays), then read this! You don't have to be a drama geek to read this, but you definitely appreciate the book more if you're knowledgeable.

Thoughts on the cover:
Gorgeous. I love the colours used and how they even got Bertie's blue hair right. My favourite touch is the fairies, I love those dastardly little fairies. The same cover artist drew the cover for book 2, and the covers are nicely consistent too.

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