Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy & Reflection

With the library re-opening I’ve been finding lots of books to read, but as we can’t let the children take off and find books by themselves any more, I’ve been delving into a lot of middle grade books. It’s either that or picture books and, while picture books are great for bed time for the 5yo. They don’t really work well for me for bed time.

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy by Melissa de la Cruz

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy is the first in a series of books aptly named The Chronicles of Never After from Melissa de la Cruz. As in Melissa de la Cruz who wrote The Descendants series. The books that got made into the movies with the awesome Kristin Chenoweth and always amazing Kathy Najimy. There are other people in it, but really once I heard Kristin Chenoweth and Kathy Najimy I was there. Actually, this movie introduced me to Cameron Boyce who is adorabe and I was so sad when I found out that he’d passed away at such a young age. I was really looking forward to seeing where he went.

OK, enough sadness, back to the book.

The point is, my daughter really needs to read this book.

This first book sets the stage for the whole series. It introduces Filomena Jefferson-Cho as she struggles through… high school? middle school? I’m not quite sure exactly, but it doesn’t matter. She’s a good girl with over protective parents who gets bullied often, but then has something magical happen to her when the hero from her favorite series of (fictional) books starts following her and she saves him from some kind of spell because apparently she can do magic.

I liked this book. It was DEFINITELY a middle grade book and it felt like a middle grade book and I will not be reading the rest of the series. But it was cute. And, if I can convince the 10yo that I’m not crazy and I do have some idea of what she likes, my daughter will love it.

Having said that, I felt like the transitions were forced and the story moved pretty fast. This book almost could have been 3 different stories on it’s own. The characters went through different short lived adventures and towards the end I didn’t know if they were going to do what they set out to, but they did. Which seemed anti-climatic. I kind of wish that they hadn’t, though. I wish she would have stretched it out and gotten more into it with the adventures. I assume that the characters are going to go on more adventures in Never After because of the way the book ended (and the whole fact that there are chronicles). But I don’t feel the need to. All of the questions were answered and it didn’t have any kind of cliff hanger to keep me reading. Really the book didn’t have anything to keep me reading throughout it. I put it down for a good 4 days in the middle and only finished it because we were heading back to the library and I wanted to take it back.

Wow. This is making it sound like a really bad book. It’s not. It’s just only OK. Especially when compared to…

Reflection by Elizabeth Lim

This book took me a while to get into, but, like, literally. It took me a while to actually open the book. I’m not a huge fan of Mulan, so I wasn’t excited to read it or interested. It was just the next book in the Twisted Tales series and arguably they’re not related to each other so I could have just skipped it. But I really don’t like skipping books in a series. So this book sat on my bed side table for about a month before I cracked it open this morning.

I shouldn’t have waited. I finished it about an hour ago.

As with the other twisted tales books it starts with the Disney version of the story, but then takes a turn. I really liked the twist it took and I loved seeing Mulan flushed out. I liked this book so much better than the movie. I kind of wish that the movie had been this story instead of the story the movie actually was. Not that it was bad. It’s just not one of my favorite Disney movies.

I kept expecting the book to meet up with the movie and finish out the same way the movie did – I don’t know why, none of the other books did. So I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t. Or maybe it did. The book ended with them on the road to the Emperor, so it could have played out the way it did in the movie with a few differences. Or maybe it played out the way it’s set up in the book. Who knows. It’s left very much up to your imagination. Which is kind of nice.

In any case, I loved the trip through the underworld and all the characters that you meet along the way. I love the arc that Mulan takes through the book. It really went more thoroughly into what it meant and what she had to face (externally and internally) pretending to be a man. Which was waaaay more interesting to me than the killing more of the Huns story line that the movie went with.

So now I’ve gotta get started on my next book and I’m not quite sure which one to start. I’ve got the 4th Skullduggery Pleasant book, The Wold of Oren-Yaro, Frozen Crown, and The Once and Future Witches all staring at me. I think I’m going to have to do a coin toss. Or maybe let my 5yo pick. We’ll see what happens.

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