Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Review: The Poison Apples
The Poison Apples by Lily Archer
Summary: "We all know the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel. But have you ever heard of Alice Bingley-Beckerman, Reena Paruchuri, or Molly Miller? Of course you haven't. Not yet. But here's something you should know. What these girls have in common with their fairy-tale sisters is this: They are the stepdaughters of three very evil stepmothers. And they're not happy about it. They think they are alone in their unhappiness until they arrive at Putnam Mount McKinsey, a posh boarding school located in lovely, rural Massachusetts. Here is where they will plot their revenge. "
My thoughts: What really struck me in this book was the way Archer tapped into how helpless kids are in the face of a family split - they can be torn from their mothers, sent to boarding school, forced to accept crazy women into their families. . . The girls' loss of control over their own lives was really heartbreaking. But their friendship went a long way to help - they were able to form their own little family with the founding of The Poison Apples.
There's a fair bit of humour in the book, although most of it comes from the utterly over-the-top cluelessness and the stepmothers' insistence on completely dominating their new husbands - both the fathers and stepmothers come off as cruel. Also, the girls' mothers fare horribly - after being completely destroyed by their husbands, they aren't treated particularly well by their daughters, either (except for Alice's mom, who had the dubious good fortune to already be dead). The most humour comes from Barbie-doll-white girl/wanna be Indian goddess Shanti Shruti who is so insane that she forces her new hubby to buy her a penguin, which I did think was a hoot.
Happy-ish endings abound once the girls realize these women aren't truly evil, just really screwed up. There's a hint of a sequel to come, but I think one batch of Apples was enough for me. Overall, a good, quick, read but I didn't find any of the characters so compelling that I want to see them again. I think it would be popular with Traveling Pants fans and girls who have stepmothers of their own, evil or not.
Neat extra - the pages are all edged in red to match the cover, making it the coolest-looking book I've seen in while.