“Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change. When the twins’ grandmother gives them a fairy-tale book, they have no idea they’re about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real.
But the stories they know so well haven’t ended in this magical land–Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother! The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way?”
I’ll say this about the book, it’s certainly a very fast read. And I really like author Chris Colfer’s take on what happens after each fairy tale’s happily ever after, especially how he molded Goldilock’s into a very self-sufficient figure.
And here comes the but: the idea behind the book was wonderful, and the structure was good–but I found it hard to connect with the main characters.
I might be reading too much into this, but I found Alex and Connor problematic. On one hand, they fit very well in the Land of Stories, because they move and talk like they do come from fairy tales themselves. But the words they’re using, and the knowledge behind said words, are very modern. Which would have been well and good, especially with the revealed twist (that you’ll figure out soon as they enter the Land of Stories). Except it doesn’t gel well. Reading through their dialogue, it felt like the two characters were being fed lines that they wouldn’t have said themselves. Words that were coming from an outside perspective.
Heck, some of the things they do were very out of character for them. And there was one particular instance when I felt outraged at what they had done–because it was them who had done it. And yet, looking back at the incident, I would’ve done the same thing. And then I figured, that’s why I was having a problem with it. The act was logical, not emotional. It was something the readers would do–not what the characters would. (And it’s really hard to write reactions without spoilers, but I’m going to recommend the book at the end of this post so I don’t want to spoil it for you.)
That said, for a first-time author Chris Colfer has a nice handle on characters–specifically the fairy-tale princesses we know and love. And while the Evil Queen’s story has been done a thousand times–yes, an exaggeration–but I thought the ending Colfer gave her was good. I just wish he had given the same care for main characters Alex and Connor.
So here’s the part where I recommend the book: Yes, it’s not perfect, but it’s a great first effort. I’m looking forward to see where Colfer takes The Land of Stories if and when he decides to write a sequel. Hopefully, by then, he’ll have been able to flesh Alex and Connor more.