Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Early Review - Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (5/5 stars)

BreadcrumbsReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
Size: 320 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: September 27, 2011
ISBN: 978-0062015051
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
Rating: 5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through Around the World ARC tours.  I saw the premise of this book and the wonderful cover and absolutely had to read it as soon as I could.  It was an excellent book.  It is kind of a retelling of The Snow Queen fairy tale, but on top of that it is so much more.  

Hazel is a dreamer and loves adventure. Hazel's best friend is Jack and together they have the most fabulous adventures.  Then Jack stops talking to Hazel and one of Jack's friends tells Hazel that he saw Jack leave with a woman made of ice.  Now Jack is gone and Hazel has to make a choice.  Should she grow and do normal girl things like her mother is pushing her too?  Or should she follow her imagination and try to save Jack from the ice woman?

There are a million things I loved about this book.  The writing is beautiful and the descriptions done in such a way that all of the settings come alive for the reader.  Hazel is an absolutely wonderful character she is struggling with her dad having left her and her mom; she is struggling with fitting in at a traditional school (she used to go to a creative arts school).  The best thing about Hazel though is that she is not afraid to be herself; the problem she has is that she isn't willing to compromise to fit in with other people...as a result her classmates have trouble understanding her.

There are numerous references to geeky fantasy culture things; lots of Harry Potter references along with a number of other references to classic fantasy literature.  I enjoyed these a lot.  There are parts of the story that made me laugh out loud and were very fun; for example superhero baseball.  Jack and Hazel create a fun world of their own and as a reader, it is a world you wish you could live in.

The second half of the book is more serious as Hazel ventures into the woods and is forced to face a number of people who seem nice, but end up being pretty evil.  Hazel's quest to rescue Jack teaches her a lot about herself and a lot about growing up.  Parts of this book are a little sad because Hazel learns that as she grows there are certain things she will have to leave behind; I think all of us see that as we get older and it is always a bit sad.  Jack's background is also a bit sad, he has a mother that is suffering from severe depression and the book talks some about Jack having to deal with that.

There is some magic in the book but the majority of this story is about friendship and growing up.  The characters throughout are quirky and interesting.  Hazel's journey through the woods is where most of the magic takes place and even there it is more like magical realism than right out magic.  The whole story has a fairy tale feel to it, but is still very modern.  There is beautiful artwork throughout the book as well (most of the artwork wasn't in the ARC yet but the artwork I did see was breathtaking and really added to the story).

Of course the book takes place in my home state of Minnesota and I love that.  Ursu has done an excellent job capturing Minnesota winters and the adventure that driving through them can provide.

Overall I loved everything about this book.  I loved the characters, the writing, the description, the story, all the quirky reference to fantasy literature, and the lessons Hazel learns throughout.  I will definitely be reading anything that Ursu writes in the future.  I just love this book so much!  If you are a fan of fantasy adventure or fairy tales pick up this book as soon as it releases!  The book might get a bit scary for younger children,  but in general it is appropriate for all ages.

This book goes towards the following reading challenge:

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