2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2013
I'm a huge fan of re-tellings of fairy-tales, and there's been a real spate of them lately. I've read some really good ones but unfortunately Towering by Alex Flinn was not one of them.
I hadn't read Alex Flinn before but had heard great things about her previous novels in particular Beastly and Rapunzel is a favourite fairy tale so great combo right? Ugh wrong. I knew that bringing a fairytale into a modern setting was going to be problematic but I was staggered by how disjointed this book was.
The book is told from three points of view - Wyatt, a young guy who moves to live with his mom's dead best friend's mother to get some distance from a tragedy in his life, Rachel, the Rapunzel character, who lives in a tower and is taken care of by a mysterious character called "Mama" and has special healing powers and amazing hair and Danielle, the dead best friend of Wyatt's mom whom we learn about through her diary entries.
Gosh, I actually find this review hard to write as I think back and realise just how bad it was and I really should have DNF'd it. I don't think I've come across a book less enjoyable. The characters were so one-dimensional and the plot line bordered on ridiculous that you couldn't actually use the fairytale aspect as an excuse because that would be an insult to fairytales. I'm going to go through each POV to explain what I mean because it's unfair and unbalanced to just rant. (although I'll probably end up doing that anyway)
Wyatt moves to a new town to stay with Mrs. Whatshername (Danielle's mother, I can't remember her name) after his best friend dies. That was actually the only moment that Wyatt behaved like a well-rounded human being when he told the story of how it happened...anyway - He moves, is picked up by a neighbour and dropped off at Mrs.WHN's house in the middle of the night.
Great hostess that she is, she doesn't come out to meet him so he wanders in and finds a bedroom and promptly starts rooting through all the personal belongings in what turns out to be Danielle's room and reads her diary. Then the ghost of Danielle appears, does a Cathy from Wuthering Heights spiel and freaks poor Wyatt out.
Mrs.WHN shows up, screams at him and hauls him out of the room and tells him to sleep elsewhere. The next morning, all is well and Mrs.WHN is all sweetness and light and all "Hey, you want to watch Star Trek?" which she does for the whole book and Wyatt is all "Hey, thanks for losing it at me last night but yeah lets watch Star Trek and put your creepy daughter's appearance down to a dream..."
Wyatt spends the next few interminable chapters reading Danielle's diary (who's actually the coolest character in the book despite being a bit of a gullible idiot) and trying to figure out her disappearance, we'll touch on that in Dani's section of this rant/review. As a character - Wyatt was just blah, he had zero personality, there was nothing about him that was remotely memorable. He came across as clueless and gullible and didn't question any of the weird occurrences happening around him. When he meets up with some kids from town and goes to a remote cabin to make friends/make out with annoying chicks, he hears this mysterious singing (I think Ariel from The Little Mermaid was swimming in the lake at the time) and this Siren call lures him to a remote tower where BAM it's Rapunzel!!!...I mean Rachel.
Okay, we all know that fairytale princesses aren't the sharpest tools in the box, they are forever getting kidnapped, letting rats make their clothes and birds braid their hair etc but they usually have some gumption but if Wyatt was blah, then Rachel was the quintessential fanfiction.net Mary Sue! She was just the most wishy-washy character I have ever come across and there's a point where Flinn obviously tries to make her into something special where she rescues Wyatt and not the other way around but it just doesn't work and she came off as so utterly vacant and just ugh.
Wyatt and Rachel meet...and then comes the INSTA-LOVE. Yeah capital letters because it was...
BAM! EYES MEET - I LOVE YOU, NO I LOVE YOU MORE, NO I LOVE YOU MORE (ugh just shut up already!)
They spend the rest of the book staring into each other's eyes and cooing at each other and they do solve a couple of mysteries I suppose - Which brings me to Danielle.
Mrs. WHN's daughter has been sheltered all her life and is never allowed to hang out with Wyatt's mom and is going stir crazy one day when she sees Hot Guy outside her window. Rather than screaming at the top of her lungs at the lurker, she sneaks out and promptly falls in love with HG.
They have some picnics, make love beside a lake and eat some freaky hallucinogenic salad(Yeah... I said salad - accounts for all those cracked out bunnies you see everywhere) and then HG runs away and Danielle is left pregnant and then she disappears.
So then...SALAD DRUG RING!! Oh yes! Why hasn't 60 minutes done a report? Nefarious criminals abduct young people and then steal their essence? Or I don't really know, I thing I may have banged my head against the wall too many times in the last few pages BUT Wily Wyatt and Ridiculous Rachel and Mrs.WHN save the day and break up the drug ring and watch Star Trek and you know this tune... it's Happily Ever After...
So yeah, I didn't connect with this book for the reasons above. It was so cheesy, it would knock out a mouse. The storyline was messy, things just happened without any real reasoning to back them up and when the story finally started to come together it was too late. Overall it was the blandest, most ridiculous book I've ever read and the reason I shall be making a DNF shelf in future.
on 9 July 2013
(Source: I own a copy of this book.)
17-year-old Rachel knows very little of the world other than what she has read in books. For years she's been imprisoned in a tower in the middle of some woods, with only `mama' visiting occasionally for company.
Wyatt is travelling to stay with a friend of his mom's called Mrs Greenwood. When he arrives he finds a diary in one of the rooms in the house, which seems to have belonged to Mrs Greenwood's missing daughter Danielle.
One day whilst out with some friends Wyatt hears singing, and follows it to find a beautiful girl in a tower, with long golden hair.
Who is Rachel though? What happened to her real mother? Why does Wyatt sometimes hear her speaking in his head? And will Rachel ever leave her tower?
This was an okay retelling of Rapunzel, but nothing special.
This was an okay story overall, but I did feel bored whilst reading it. The characters were okay, the writing was okay, but it just felt a bit dull and boring for me.
The added elements to the story weren't exciting, and although I did feel a little interested at one point, it faded quickly. I will say that I didn't guess what had actually transpired to land poor Rachel in the tower, but this was more because it was a bit odd, rather than the storyline being opaque. It was one of those stories where you get to the end and find out that it was all because the main character loved pigeons, when nothing has been mentioned of pigeons all the way through, and pigeons aren't all that exciting anyway. When the mystery was revealed in this one I just thought `Whatever.'.
I'll admit that it must be difficult to write fairy-tale retellings in a new and interesting way, but this one fell flat for me. Fans of this author or fairy-tale retellings might enjoy this, but for me it was only okay.
Overall; an okay retelling of Rapunzel, but nothing exciting.
6.5 out of 10.
on 16 May 2013
I love a good fairytale retelling, emphasis on the good. There are some corkers out there. I'm not familiar with Flinn's tales, although I've seen the Beastly movie which I presume was based on her book (not a great advertisement in all honestly), but Flinn appears to be the `hero' of fairytale retelling the YA genre - or so the critics would have you believe.
Towering is of course a rapunzel retelling, set in modern day US. Rachel is Rapunzel, a golden haired beauty trapped in a tower with a women she calls (but knows she isn't) Mama. Wyatt (nope can't get past the stupid - charmed inspired name, sorry) is trying to escape a loss, and Dani went missing seventeen years ago. Their stories intertwine, lead by Rachel and Wyatt's POV the book takes the reader on a journey of mystery, mega instalove and discovery.
I was a little surprised to read a male POV more or less straight off (chapter 2 I think), in a story that is all about the long haired beauty, so I was pleased it was taking another direction so quickly. Wyatts opening chapters were pretty damn familiar, I had to check I wasn't reading a Withering Heights re-write - nope definitely Rapunzel, WTF? Oh wait, a few pages later Flinn acknowledges the WH storyline - thats ok then......it does start to make some sense but still a little weird and out of place.
Wyatt's a bit blah. His character has the depth of a frying pan, he's also a little wet and there were several times I felt he needed a slap. Rachel's not much better, and the instalove is outstanding, I didn't realize the phrase `I love you' could be used more than it was in Twiglet. But it has been. In truth - the whole set up was ridiculous, I suppose thats the problem with bringing rapunzel into the 20th century, the likelihood of a tower being undiscovered for so long, just isn't believable - maybe in the arctic but in the US? nah....its the same issue that Rapunzel Untangled faced, and there's nothing really new here.
The book got a solid 3 stars from me, it was nothing spectacular, I enjoyed it but won't remember it in a few weeks. Much like Marr's Cinder - I was expecting more from the hype surrounding the author, but nothing I've read her threatens Jackson Pearce's position on the pedestal of retellings (for me anyway).
EGalley kindly provided by Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.