Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Want something a little edgy?

Madapple is the story of Aslaug, a teenager who has been sheltered from the outside world. Her mother is a recluse and is dying of cancer. While growing up Aslaug had an unusual education. She was schooled in plants, herbs, ancient languages and rituals. Nothing about her childhood was normal. But that’s to be expected if you are a “virgin birth.”

The book begins in 1987 before Aslaug is born, and then jumps to 2003. The rest of the book alternates between chapters set in 2007(courtroom setting) and in 2003. The entire book is working up to the courtroom case in 2007. Aslaug is on trial for a double homicide.

As the book progresses we learn about Aslaug’s dark family secrets. Trust me, they are disturbing. Religion is also discussed in this novel, but it did not come off as preachy or condescending. The characters in this book are interesting and some are very unsettling. The writing in this novel was good and very descriptive. Be forewarned there are dark subject matters in this book.

One issue I had with the book was the first three chapters were a little confusing. Also the constant reference to herbs/plants grew tiresome. At the end of the novel you understand the importance of these plants but sometimes the novel felt more like a botany lesson than a young adult novel. The constant reference to virgin births started to wear on me as well.

As I read this novel I continued to think…will students like it? Adults are raving about this book, and that’s nice, but this is a novel for teens. Will teens be drawn to this story? For students who can make it through the confusing narrative, they will be shocked by what they read. I think students who enjoy V.C. Andrews’ various novels will like Madapple. Also, students who like their novels a little dark, edgy and sophisticated will enjoy this book.

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