Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: Stray

Publication Date: October 7th 2014        
Publisher:  Greenwillow
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~

“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

STRAY is the first in a collection of intertwined stories, all set in a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict doctrine called The Path. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in, this original fairy tale will be released October 7th, 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

You could say Stray is very Once Upon a Time-ish on most of it, but yes in one major way that I am not amused with.  I'd disagree mainly because there's a thin line between good and bad, the good are flawed and the bad have good. Take Regina, whose deliciously evil but she's well rounded and as it goes on, you see the depth of her character. The bad characters in Stray? One sided. Everyone's just out for poor, poor Aislynn, for no apparent reason, they look for things wrong with her, even if she hasn't done anything at all, they look the other way when others do something, or do or say something to Aislynn to  get a reaction from her, and then she gets told off for it. Poor, poor Aislynn, and I say that sarcastically because to be honest, I didn't like her but I didn't hate her. My point is, the wicked evils in this story had no reason.

Despite that, I was starting to get into it and though not much was going on, and even though I wanted to shake Aislynn a dozen of times, and a few other characters, then something happened. The Stray part that makes Aislynn a fairy godmother and de-princesses her , and while that's supposed to be a major turning point in the story, it also made half the book obsolete. You get to meet the certain characters you need to meet, but the thing is, you could've put them all in a totally different scenario and it would still would have gotten you to where you needed to go.  It didn't seem like it had much significance to it, and most of it was rinse wash and repeat anyway.  What was the actual point of all of that, to build character? I didn't see the difference, I mean, yes, she changed from the beginning but I didn't feel or see the character growth to make it believable.

There's plot holes too, to the why that thing happened, it's one thing that wasn't directly addressed and seemed a random coincidence. The one thing I did love about it though is the very Disney-esque authentic feeling you get from it. It reads exactly like you'd expect it would. The romance is Disney-esque too, but I was indifferent to it which is a feat since there's not much of it.
Now, let's get to the one thing that thing I'm not amused with. There's this thing that happens when you've been redirected from the path and become a fairy godmother to another, your loving heart gets removed.  They reach into your chest with magic and take it.

Hey, Regina, sound familiar? Stole your moves. 
If that isn't enough, the same thing happens after y our loving heart is removed. Your senses are dulled, feelings stilled, you can still feel, but it's less everything. Less pain, less hurt, less cheer and joy. You're numbed to overpowering feelings. And when it's put back, everything's crisp and clear and so much more.

Hey, Once Upon a Time, sound familiar?
While Stray did deliver on the storytelling feel it promised, I had too many questions that weren't answered, and an all too familiar act that felt copied that kept me from enjoying it.

Rating: 3/5