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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: October 2, 2012
Pages: 256
Source: For Review from HarperCollins
Rating: 4 Stars


One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.
When Liza's brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.
She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.
To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers' nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests--or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.

In short: Lauren Oliver has written another truly lovely and whimsical Middle Grade novel that can be enjoyed by all age groups.
After reading and loving Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver, I knew I needed to read The Spindlers, Lauren Oliver's second Middle Grade novel. Liesl and Po was a wonderful and whimsical story filled with cartoonish and memorable characters, and The Spindlers was no different. When Liza's brother's soul is stolen by the Spindlers, she goes Below to rescue it. Bold and brave, Liza comes up against some tricky tasks that she must solve along the way as well as some truly imaginative and quirky creatures and settings, all beautifully described with Lauren Oliver's signature fantastical prose.

If I had any critique for The Spindlers, it's that it was very reminiscent of other works, particularly Coraline by Neil Gaiman, but also Roald Dahl novels and Hayao Miyazaki films. It had so many of the same elements of these other works that at times, The Spindlers came across as cliched and predictable. I don't actually mind it when authors turn to these well known story arcs because they are beloved for a reason, but ideally I'd like to see said author present something new and original to set it apart from the masses and I'm not sure Lauren Oliver accomplishes that with The Spindlers.

BUT - and I would like to stress this - please don't take that one critique as an indication that I didn't enjoy The Spindlers. I loved The Spindlers. Really. It was just as lovely and wonderful as I have come to expect from all of Lauren Oliver's novels. And perhaps it's a bit unfair to call it predictable when I am an adult and this book is meant for children who probably wouldn't see it as being cliched at all. So I would definitely recommend The Spindlers for the age group that it is meant for. And I would absolutely recommend it for older audiences who love quirky and fantastical MG reads, as well.

Other Reviews:
Life of a Bookworm
Novel Sounds
Pure Imagination

Author Links:
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35 comments :

  1. I haven't read Spindlers yet, but Liesl and Po totally reminded me of Roald Dahl. It doesn't feel completely original, even though the story is. But I love the classic children's story throwback.

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    1. Yeah, me too. And that's why I don't have as big of a problem with it as I could have because her MG books really do remind me of some of my favourite children's stories.

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  2. Sounds a little derivative, maybe, but I still wanna read Liesl and Po and probably this too!

    Thanks for the review, Aylee!! :D I'm glad you liked it.

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    1. Cool, because I really do recommend both! I think you may like them, Alex!

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  3. I've only read the Delirium series and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver but I'd definitely like to read some of her middle grade books .. This one sounds pretty good ! Thanks for the review Aylee !

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    1. I would recommend them, even if you aren't a big fan of middle grade! She is such a talented writer.

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  4. Oh yay! I loved Liesl and Po so I'll definitely check this out! Thanks

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    1. Cool! Hope you love it just as much!

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  5. Great honest review. I'm listening to Liesl & Po right now :)

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  6. There were definitely some strong similarities to Dahl and Gaiman, but I loved it too! Such a delightful read, I definitely know a lot of middle graders that will enjoy it

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    1. "Delightful" is a great word to describe Oliver's MG books. They just have so much joy and whimsy to them. Even if they are a bit derivative.

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  7. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It sounds very sweet. Sometimes predictable books are the best. One of my favourites is A Hidden Magic by Vivian Vande Velde, which is so sweet and so predictable.

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    1. That's true. It's nice sometimes just to relax and delve into a familiar seeming book. I have heard great things about Vivian Vande Velde!!

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  8. This looks really cute Aylee! I think you have a good point with it being a bit cliched to you - I think I would likely feel that way as well, and then I would need to remind myself that I'm not the target audience for this story:) Still, despite the predictability, it's clear the book entertained you and I think that's enough sometimes!

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    1. Yeah, exactly, I had to really work at keeping that in mind because I really am not the target audience for this book. But I did really enjoy myself reading it despite that. It was just so cute!

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  9. Oh, so cool. I was reading your review and just like that, I see my name popping up with my review :)

    Indeed, this book is highly recommended to the age group she aimed for. I also liked the story, but I can see what you mean with predictable and cliched :) It didn't bother me, because I loved her writing style.

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    1. Heh, no problem :) It didn't bother me TOO much, honestly, because it was just so fantastical and her writing is so beautiful. I definitely liked it.

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  10. Oliver! Love seeing her branching out. I still need to read her other children's book. I really don't understand how she can conclude that her brothers soul was stolen... I feel like it being banned week still (I think?) this actually might be banned because of the whole soul being stolen.
    She’s Got Books on Her Mind

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    1. Hmm, interesting. I would believe it - people challenge books for the stupidest reasons. I love seeing her branch out, too! I would totally read an adult book by her, as well.

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  11. REVIEW TWINS! We pretty much said the same thing, yes for children not so much for adults. Still, Lauren Oliver is a fantastic author with wonderful words. Word to this whole review! <3

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    1. Haha, yeah!! I always love that, when I come to pretty much the exact same conclusions about a book that someone else has without having discussed it with them at all.

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  12. I haven't read Liesl and Po yet but I've got it on my Kindle and plan on getting my brother to read it next. He gets to read my MG books before me :)

    I don't think that I'd mind that this one is predictable because I love quirky, fantastical tales. Also, it's an MG read and I tend to have different expectations for my MG books. I'm sure I'm going to enjoy this one too as I love Miyazaki's films and Dahl's books. I haven't read Coraline yet but the movie was pretty awesome.

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    1. haha, very cute :) If I had a little person in my life, I would be constantly getting them to read all my favourite MG reads, too. And yeah, I definitely feel like you have to rate and review MG books from a MG viewpoint instead of an adult one sometimes because it can be unfair to judge it in that light considering it's not aimed at me. I think you'll really love it if you like all those things!

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  13. I have to read liesel and po still and check this one out. It sounds awesome, and I loved coraline and any book that follows this type of storyline. Great review! :)

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    1. I think you'll really like Lauren Oliver's MG stuff then!

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  14. I've read both Liesl and Po and now The Spindlers. I'm exactly like you, even though I enjoyed The Spindlers, I was more drawn to Lisel and Po's story. Lisel and Po had some magical elements and read more like a fairy tale. It also felt slightly contemporary largely because of some of the issues both young characters faced with their caretakers. The Spindlers, on the other hand, leaned much more to the fantasy/sci -fi side, with just a pinch of contemporary. I found it easier to picture the action scenes in my head for Lisel and Po, where many times I was lost with the Spindlers. The magical creatures and detailed fight scenes are always a challenge for me. What I did really like about the Spindlers were all the magical, unique and imaginative creatures the story held.

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    1. Very thoughtful and insightful, Gina! I'm just about to go read your review proper - this was an excellent overview :) I do completely see your point of view. It was a bit easier to picture the world of Liesl and Po because it was much more largely based in reality (though still with that whimsical, fantastical air). And I do think I liked it a tad bit more because of it.

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  15. Great review, Aylee!! I love Lauren Oliver and really need to read this one AND Before I Fall. I listened to Liesl & Po and LOVED IT! Now I'm convinced Lauren can write anything. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I think she can! I would really love to listen to this one on audio. I bet it's great!

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  16. Too bad it was cliched and predictable...but it sounds like Oliver's writing is still as wonderful as ever, so I'll definitely check this book out :)

    Nice review!

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    1. Excellent! Because it is definitely worth checking out!

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  17. Sounds like a cute novel! Not sure about the spider angle though...I have arachnophobia. Yet, I like the idea of quirky creatures!

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  18. Lauren Oliver uses wonderful imagery, imaginative creatures, and excellent character development throughout "The Spindlers." Intense scenarios and action sequences are vivid and exciting. Young readers and those who are young-at-heart will enjoy this fine novel.

    Jasmine
    Chesapeake Carpet Patching

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