Monday, March 21, 2011

Awesome Book Reviews: LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. 

Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. 

Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.

Review: I have been waiting to read this book for more than a year. The first time I discovered Kirsten was through the uber-awesome YA Highway site, and after reading her debut's description, I was an instant fangirl. And when LIKE MANDARIN landed on my doorstep, I prayed the book was just as amazing as that gorgeous description.

Folks, I was NOT disappointed.

I could tell you to read this book for several reasons. Characterization is unbelievably thorough, with Grace disdaining her pageant-y past and longing for more. Or Mandarin, wily and mysterious without being cliche. I could gush about the perfect world-building, and how Washokey felt so real I thought I was actually living there. This is probably one of the most vivid settings I've ever seen in a contemporary (usually, the type of detail shown in LIKE MANDARIN is saved for sci-fi/dystopians/urban fantasies/historicals). 

But the real reason why I loved LIKE MANDARIN is this: Kirsten Hubbard is not a writer, she is an artist. She crafts one beautiful sentence after another, as if writing predictable and overused descriptions/emotions were a sin. There's power in the simplicity of her words. She can break your heart or make you smile with just one image. I finished this book and thought to myself, "I will never be as good as her."

Then I thought, "I will never get this book out of my head."

You read how Grace and Mandarin are searching for someplace magic in that summary, right?

My someplace magic is Kirsten's writing. I am forever a fangirl. 

Make sure you go pick up your copy of LIKE MANDARIN, which is in stores now!

7 comments:

  1. This book truly was AWESOME! The writing was so beautiful and the characters were completely authentic--I can't wait to see what Kirsten Hubbard has in store for us next. :)

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  2. Curse you, Amparo! I've been doing so well on my book-buying diet and now I want to cheat to buy this book. Gah!

    Great review! :)

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  3. Just added it to my TBR list!!! Sounds great!!!!

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  4. I've heard great things about this book too. On the TBR list!

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  5. I have the book, but haven't read it yet. I was in the mood for romance. :D

    Hmmm. And maybe I won't read it for awhile. I hate books that make me want to quit writing because I'll never be as good as the author. ;)

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  6. I've heard so many great things about it. Can't wait to read. =D

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