Published by Penguin on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
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Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened? Someone knows. Someone is lying.
For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Virgin Suicides, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.
“We were like the three Fates, weaving the story together, threads of gold, red, and midnight blue. There would be wolves and tricks and lies and cunning and vengeance in our story. I would make sure of it.”
Er… I didn’t get it. At least, I don’t think I did. At one point, I thought I was getting it, but then… huh?
In Wink Poppy Midnight, the writing is the novel’s strongest point, offering up a weird mystery in a style that feels as whimsical and enticing as magical realism.
My first thoughts were positive and something along the lines of: I am going to love this. But, the problem is that I love poetic prose to a certain extent, though not when I feel the metaphors and language aim to cover up a case of not much happening.
Some reviewers are comparing it to the style of We Were Liars, which I can definitely see:
“The dark. It was thick as drying blood, so thick I could have held it in my hands, if they were free, palms filled with it. I could feel the blackness breathing, panting, panting, the dark, the dark, the dark.”
It has the same use of repetition and metaphors as Lockhart’s work. So maybe you will like this more if you enjoyed We Were Liars, which was just a 3-star read for me, or The Accident Season (2 stars). It was kind of a combination of the two.
Firstly, there is literally no story for the first half of the book, and even when the story emerges, it is incredibly confusing. It’s one of my pet peeves when authors try to mask a lack of things happening/plot with the use of pretty words. I’m only blinded by beautiful writing for a couple of chapters; then I remember that words should complement the story they’re telling, not stand in for it.
So, the first half of this book is a lyrical 150+ pages of Midnight thinking about Wink and Poppy, and comparing everything about them from their appearance to their personality to the way they kiss. Wink is a weird, wild girl who loves books and stories; Poppy is a beautiful, cold bully who uses the sweet, caring Midnight.
I found their overt quirkiness put distance between us and I never really warmed to them. Being unable to understand or sympathise with any of the three protagonists didn’t help to make me care what would happen.
The book is full of the kind of metaphorical, surrealist writing that makes it often impossible to tell what is going on, what is actually happening, and what exists in the characters’ heads. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes “what is real?” books are fascinating. But that’s usually because the narrator(s) are unreliable, and/or the book is very psychological. In Wink Poppy Midnight, you can’t tell what’s going on because the writing confuses you.
I especially don’t like it when the weird writing shows up in the dialogue. Coming from the author, it’s quirky; coming directly from the characters’ mouths, it sounds silly:
“Sometimes I think there must be a hole in your heart . . . one that hurts and makes you roar like an animal with its leg in a trap. Is that it, Poppy? Is that why?”
As in We Were Liars, you can feel the novel setting you up for a twist. The strangeness, plus Wink’s whole “Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain.” thing, is practically begging you to consider who the hero is, who the villain is, and whether it might not be who you’d expect *gasp*
A certain type of reader will probably love this book. The kind that loves style and language more than story, or the kind ready for a stranger version of We Were Liars. Unfortunately, I’m not that type of reader. And the only time I enjoy not knowing what the hell is going on is if there’s a compelling mystery to solve.
Bizarre and not for me.