Summary (from Goodreads): Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
My Thoughts: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver is remarkable. Written in a style that to me is middle-grade writing, it’s a simple but powerful tale. While experienced readers might be able to figure things out somewhat early on in the story, there’s no doubt that this book is full of surprise for the average middle-grade reader. The way each thread of the story eventually links to the others, and all story lines come together. Fantastic. The narrative is simple enough as to be right at the reading level it’s intended for, but not so much that an older reader won’t enjoy it. It’s a sweet story, and I really enjoyed it. It’s hard for me to describe my feelings on this without sharing too much, but this reads very much like a fairy tale.
Liesl is a sweet main character, and Po is very interesting. For most of the book, Po is referred to as “it” because apparently on the Other Side no one is male or female, but everyone is both. Or something like that. It was a little awkward in my head reading “it” in reference to Po at first, but I quickly got used to it. And it serves its purpose in the story – and does not detract from it in any way. I also loved Bundle. And, finally, Will – that poor child. What a life for him.
The main antagonists are the alchemist, Liesl’s stepmother, and the rich lady who paid for the magic. All are great villains that surely will strike a chord with readers of all ages. They aren’t scary enough to give children nightmares or anything like that, but each has just the right amount of evil to make them believable bad-guys.
There are a few other important minor characters, my favorite of which is Mo. As I suspected pretty quickly, he’s a very important character. And while I love Liesl, Po, Will, and Bundle, Mo just might be my favorite of all.
Finally, the cover. It’s gorgeous and very detailed and nicely textured – and that was only the ARC! I can’t wait to see how the hardcover book looks! Edited on 9/7 to add: I cannot believe I forgot to mention the illustrations throughout. They are wonderful and really help to enhance the story. I can’t wait to see a final edition with the final illustrations!
Final thought – the only other book of Oliver’s I have read is Delirium, and it’s amazing to me that Lauren Oliver can write this middle-grade book as well as she can write for the older readers in the YA crowd. She truly is a very gifted author, and Liesl & Po is a fantastic fairytale that budding bookworms are bound to love.
Source: Received through Around The World Tours for review.
Read It: Liesl & Po is scheduled for release on October 4, 2011. You can pre-order your own copy HERE. (This is a Book Depository link, and purchase through this link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)
This review is part of Book Review Party Wednesday.
FTC Disclosure: All items reviewed were either obtained by me for my own enjoyment or sent (from the author, publisher, publicist, via tour sites, etc.) in exchange for an honest review. I receive no monetary compensation for my posts. All opinions expressed are my own. Any exceptions to this are clearly noted in the appropriate posts.
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