Book Review (#3): Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee



I know I said I wouldn’t read too many children books. But this one seemed quite interesting, and it’s middle grade and I have a knack for that. So I’m not going to apologise. This is another book I got off NetGalley which I’ve been frequenting lately. I do like to read while I’m eating, and e-books are easy side dishes, which means I get to finish them quickly.

As promised, I will try to keep the review brief, but conclusive.

The story starts out at a museum with a little girl called… you’ve guessed it, Ophelia! Ophelia likes science and believes in it until she encounters the marvelous boy who’s locked in a chamber in the museum, and who makes her question every scientific foundation she uses to get through life. This is the story of how Ophelia tries to rescue the marvelous boy, and how together they save the world.

The story is told throughout a lush, extravagant narrative, recounting everything from the features of the museum, to the weather, to what Ophelia is thinking and feeling. Maybe a little too much of the museum and the weather though that at some points I just skimmed past it. Which makes me wonder if it really will appeal to the targeted age group. But over all, I thought the descriptions and voice that tells the story really suited the pace and feel of it all.

As for the plot, well, I felt that it derived a lot from other stories –mostly Snow White (bits reminded me of the Kristen Stewart movie) and Narnia, but maybe that’s just me. Yet, the arrangement of events was great and the climaxes were quite well executed. I partly didn’t like that all ended well, but I guess middle grade books don’t try to be as heartbreaking/gruesome/realistic.

The characters were interesting but I would say they didn’t develop much, which is okay since the story takes place over 3 days or so. My problem was mainly with Ophelia and how the author made her view science. Throughout the story, Ophelia tries to abstain from thinking scientifically because what does science have to do with magic? But in my opinion, science is about being open-minded and creative and knowing that not all facts are given, that even the most minute of a finding can change a rule that has been followed for hundreds of year. So this was just a personal little thing that bugged me –how scientists were portrayed as narrow-minded; I don’t think that’s the kind of message you want to send to smart kids who read, really.

All in all, it was an okay read. I think people my age –in their early teens– would appreciate it a lot more than the meant audience, as the voice with which the story is told is a tad too sophisticated. Yet, it remains easy to relate to, and helps build the world well. It’s a small book, about a 150 pages, and each chapter ends on a cliffhanger that makes you want to tread on.

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