I’ve always found that starting reviews is much harder than finishing them. More often than not I try to make them personal. Share an experience, or funny antidote. Something to draw my readers in, bring them down to my level. See the book from where I am sitting.
I’ve talked about my love of books. I’ve shared quotes that move me to tears. I’ve even ranted from a place of complete and utter annoyance, but I have NEVER been able to put down (eloquently) into words what books actually DO to me. I’ve never been able to find the words that describe the world I live in while entranced by a few letters, masterfully put together to create something beautiful, whimsical, enchanting. But yesterday I found someone who could.
A few pages into Heather Lyons newest novel “The Collectors’ Society” I found this passage. And I’ve decided to share it with you, because honestly…it best describes my frame of mind while reading this book. It also speaks to those of us who read for pleasure, not a place of “resentment or necessity.”
So read it. Embrace it. Own it. And then let me tell you a little more about this magical, uniquely perfect book that I can’t seem to stop thinking about.
“Let us, in this moment, focus on those who find books to be an escape or an extension of their imagination. These readers see, within their mind’s eye, the characters and settings in the pages below their fingers. They feel the emotions woven between worlds. They live through every heartache, every embrace, every terror. Books, to these people, become tangible, living things. The characters they read become genuine souls. – People like this are often accused of living within their fantasies. They’re said to have their noses stuck in books.”
I guess I’m one of these people.
This book could have gone two very different directions. South, to the pits of fiery book hell, where plots are confusing and classic characters are abused for the sake of convenience OR to the clouds, where impractical ideas create breathtaking stories. “The Collectors’ Society” was the latter.
Describing what actually made this books so wonderful is a difficult task, one I’m not entirely sure I’m going to be able to do justice, but I will try.
Imagine for a moment that every book creates people. Not just characters, but honest to goodness people. The moment a reader falls in love with a story, that person created of words and ideals springs to life, and an alternate world, where this character resided, is born. AND…as long as the love continues, that world will thrive.
Now imagine what would happen if a person learned how to destroy these alternate worlds? He/She never really cared for the story inside “Treasure Island” so poof! They can make Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver disappear. All it takes is destroying the story’s catalyst. Jim’s treasure map. Mary Poppin’s carpet bag. Harry Potter’s wand. The story is gone. The people inside the story are gone. The decedents of the people inside the story…GONE.
What would you do?
That is the premise behind Lyon’s leap into Wonderland. She took all the characters we loved growing up with (Huck Fin, Alice Liddel, Emma Knightly, Wendy Darling, Henry Fleming, Jack Dawkins…etc) and made them save themselves. She took them from their stories and breathed new life into them. She asked them to look beyond the stigma of their past in order to preserve it. She made Classic Literature romantic again.
She didn’t step on the bones of her predecessors, she embellished them. And she did so in a truly remarkable way. So much so that I found myself unable to put the book down. Even for a moment.
I was so intrigued by the comings and going of characters such as Sweeney Todd, and Mary Lennox that I forgot about a person’s need to eat for survival. My heart broke from the unexpected personal depth of Victor Frankenstein and Abraham Van Brunt. I screamed in triumph for Alice and Huck Finn’s ability to discover hidden strength. My nose was, quite literally, stuck inside this book. And I stood in awe as the words Lyons said above, came to life and lived inside of me too.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way about a book.
It’s been a while since I’ve blabbed uncontrollably to my family and friends. Dusted off familial obligations for the chance to read just one more chapter. And then one more.
It’s been a while since I truly, honestly, loved a book. Which I did. I LOVED this book. And I can’t wait for these characters to come alive in my life again with book 2.
It was unique. It demanded attention, and (though some might find this daunting) tested my knowledge of some of literature’s most famous faces. It was everything I want in a book, and more.
So my advice to you?
Snatch it up. You won’t be sorry.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Books need love too. They won’t survive without it.