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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Review: Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater


Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 360 Pages
Publisher: Flux (October 1, 2009)

In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament, music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians. James' musical talent attracts Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. Composing beautiful music together unexpectedly leads to mutual admiration and love. Haunted by fiery visions of death, James realizes that Deirdre and Nuala are being hunted by the Fey and plunges into a soul-scorching battle with the Queen of the Fey to save their lives.

Maggie' Stiefvater’s writing really is so addictive. It hooks you right from the start and seems to flow with a lyric all of its own. When I first read Lament, I was left wanting to learn more about one character in particular- James. There were quick little glimpses into his character, but not enough to satisfy my curiosity about him. I hoped that in the sequel we'd get to learn more about him. Let me just say, if you felt the same way- then Ballad will not disappoint you. Right from page one I knew that this was going to be an introspective novel. James practically jumped out of the pages and came to life for me, and I felt sad when it was over.

On the outside, James was this hilarious, talented charmer with a sarcastic sense of humor. But his character was so much more complex than that. Maggie Stiefvater enabled us to see James on a very personal, deep level. I think being allowed to get inside his head (and heart) made me fall even more in love with his character. It was almost heartbreaking at times to watch him deal with the roller coaster of emotions as Dee turned away from him and other more threatening events began to unfold. Every aspect of his personality was so endearing to me - the bag pipe playing, the smart alec one liners, the obsessive writing on his hand compulsion, his humorous t-shirts, etc. When I finished the book, I found myself actually missing James like he wasn’t just a fictional character. That’s how real his personality shown through in Ballad.

More than a companion piece than actual sequel to Lament, Ballad is told from the alternating points of view of James and an unusual faery we are introduced to named Nuala. This time around Dee is but a blip here and there- a reminder of James' painful feelings as he tries to build a life for himself at Thornking Ash and come to terms with the events of Lament. Most of the insight into what was going on with Dee was revealed through text messages typed but never sent to James. That really added a lot of suspense to the novel and was crucial to the plot. As for Nuala, she was a welcome muse for him and I found myself completely rooting for the two of them even though I knew she was potentially very dangerous for him to become involved with in any capacity whatsoever.

It’s almost like Maggie Stiefvater wrote Ballad as a love letter to James. If you liked James before, you will love him in Ballad. Maggie's writing hooks you right from the start and you become entranced in her stories and emotionally invested in her characters. I really believe it is impossible to put down a book of Maggie Stiefvater’s and walk away. With all that being said, Ballad exceeded my already high expectations by leaps and bounds. I desperately hope there will be more novels in this series.

Buy at : Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million
About Maggie Stiefvater-

All of Maggie Stiefvater's life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she's tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She's made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

Visit Maggie on her Official Website, Facebook, Twitter and Live Journal.

You can purchase Ballad at Amazon HERE.


ParaJunkee said...

I absolutely loved this book. Wonderful review. - Parajunkee

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

I have a crush on this book (and James) I can't say enough good things about it!

Dani. said...

I'm reading Shiver right now and its amazing! But I cant wait to read this and Lament! They look amazing! :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Best review I've read of this yet. Bravo! You make me want to run out any buy it :)

Fantastic Book Review said...

I couldn't agree more! Maggie has a way at pulling at our heartstrings with her writing. And yes, I want to know if there's another book to come...

Michelle said...

Like you, I believe James is awesome. Even just by himself he's interesting and quirky, but in his relationship with Dee and Nuala he really begins to shine and becomes this freakin' amazing guy with so much potential. Loved, loved this one!! I wish he were real too!

Haleyknitz said...

i might just read the book based on the "about the author" alone!!

Jennie Smith said...

Great review! These are definitely on my list... now closer to the top!!


misskallie2000 said...

I really enjoyed your review. I enjoy reading your post when they come out. Continue the great work.