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Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: When Rose Wakes by Christopher Golden

Reading level: Young Adult 
Paperback: 320 pages 
Publisher: MTV; Original edition (September 28, 2010) 
Language: English
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Her terrifying dreams are nothing compared to the all-too-real nightmare that awaits. . . .

Ever since sixteen-year-old Rose DuBois woke up from months in a coma with absolutely no memories, she’s had to start from scratch. She knows she loves her two aunts who take care of her, and that they all used to live in France, but everything else from her life before is a blank.Rose tries to push through the memory gaps and start her new life, attending high school and living in Boston with her aunts, who have seriously old world ideas. Especially when it comes to boys. But despite their seemingly irrational fears and odd superstitions, they insist Rose not worry about the eerie dreams she’s having, vivid nightmares that she comes to realize are strangely like the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The evil witch, the friendly fairies, a curse that puts an entire town to sleep—Rose relives the frightening story every night. And when a mysterious raven-haired woman starts following her, Rose begins to wonder if she is the dormant princess. And now that she’s awake, she’s in terrible, terrible danger. . .

Opening Line: 
"Rose woke with the echoes of bad dreams like cobwebs in her mind and the memory of a kiss still upon her lips. Through slitted eyes she could see only the gauzy haze of dim lights, and when she tried to move every inch of her protested with an ache that went down to the bone. "
When Rose Wakes

Notable Scene: 

"As the Black Heart passed one classroom and then another she seemed to flicker in and out of sight, perhaps even in and out of reality. One step she would be there and the next she would not. Rose could only start, riveted to the spot as she tried to think." page 297

WHEN ROSE WAKES was an intriguing book with a unique take on a classic fairy tale. But before I dive into this review, I need to point out one important thing. This synopsis reveals way too much!  I wish I had been able to uncover the enticing details of the plot for myself, including the evil witch, friendly fairies, the curse, etc--basically all the magic and excitement spelled out in the synopsis.

With that being said, I still greatly enjoyed this book. Throughout the narrative, the reader is transported into the dream-like world of Rose's past. These were my favorite parts of the book and I looked forward to each new glimpse into Rose's sad history.  I thought the way Christopher Golden incorporated elements from Sleeping Beauty was highly creative. I wanted to learn more about the mysterious "Feywood" and its inhabitants called the "Ladies of the Wood". These scenes were so vivid I felt like I was pulled out of my chair and plopped smack dab into a medieval kingdom plagued with war and dark magic. I could feel the biting cold as Rose ran into the snow drenched forest. I could practically hear the whirling of Rielle the fairy sprite's wings as she darted frantically around, desperate to warn Rose about her fate from the "Dark Lady". And I felt all the pain of Rose's father and the predicament he found himself within. This was a man who knew no matter what he did to keep his daughter safe, in the end, he would lose her forever. I only wish there could've been time to explore this in more detail.

Though Rose had so much to deal with upon waking from a two-year coma, I thought she handled herself impressively.  Even though she did not think of herself as anything more than the bumbling "Coma Girl", I could tell she possessed the heart of a true princess. Strong, loyal and courageous, Rose did not let anyone walk all over her. I loved the way she stood up to bullies at the school. The things she did to put them in their place awed me and made me wish I had been friends with her in high school.  Rose's Aunt Fay and Aunt Suzette were extremely well thought out characters as well.  I knew they were holding back some crucial information, but couldn't ever quite put it all together. They also had quite a few personality quirks with their odd tea concoctions and the way they were terrified of Rose "meeting boys". Initially it confused me, but in the end it all made perfect sense and I ended up appreciating their characters even more. Rose's friendships with Kaylie and Dom added some humor to the plot line, and I enjoyed Kaylie's witty one-liners. The romance between Rose and Jared was delicious.  Golden wrote their scenes together so well they dripped with tension.

WHEN ROSE WAKES had an extremely clever ending, but I'm not sure that I was completely satisfied with it. I had so many questions; so much more I wanted to delve into and explore. Since so much of the book was dedicated to Rose coming to terms with what she really was, I often felt impatient with her to "catch up" with the information I already knew.  But again, that reverts back to the synopsis giving too much away.  I also felt like the book wrapped up rather quickly. I wanted her to have the quintessential "happily ever after".  While the ending was hopeful, I found myself hoping for something more definitive. But I guess life isn't always like a fairy tale, right?

Despite the spoilery synopsis, I greatly enjoyed this book. WHEN ROSE WAKES lulled me in and captivated my heart from the first few pages. With a contemporary twist, it's sure to appeal to fans of fantasy and fairy tale retellings.

Christopher Golden is the award-winning, bestselling author of such novels as Wildwood Road, The Boys Are Back in Town, Of Saints and Shadows, and the Body of Evidence thriller series. He has cowritten a number of novels and comic books set in the worlds of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. There are more than eight million copies of his books in print. He lives in Massachusetts with his family.


Kate said...

This book sounds awesome! I read the Body of Evidence Series awhile back and really enjoyed them. Good to know that he's still writing.

Nely said...

This sounds really good. For some reason I had never heard of it. Just added to TBR list. Thanks for the review.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Oooo thanks for the warning. Great review and I LOVE that opening :)

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Bere said...

Brilliant review, Kim! This is the first review I've read of When Rose Wakes and it has encouraged me to pick this one up. The book sounds wonderful. Can't wait to read it. Thank you for your review Kim. =)