Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver is a juvenile fantasy with a Victorian feel.

One night, shortly after the death of her beloved father, Liesl (a Cinderella-like young girl confined to an attic bedroom by a cruel stepmother) is visited by Po, a ghost. Drawn to her sad sweetness and her artistic talent, Po and his ghostly animal companion Bundle are soon caught up in a plan to help Liesl escape the attic and take the ashes of her dead father to the country home where Liesl's mother is buried. Po is not the only one who has been drawn to Leisl's sweetness: Will, an apothecary's apprentice, has noticed her face at the attic window and dreamed of meeting her. When their paths cross on the way out of the city, the three children (two corporeal, one ghostly) find themselves caught up in a larger adventure than they ever expected.

I thought the writing was strong in this story, but the plot was weak. There are too many coincidences, and too many people who behave in unbelievable ways in order to ensure they are in the right place at the right time, plot-wise (for instance, there is an old woman on a train who apparently decides that Liesl is a menace to society because Liesl appears to be talking to herself, and so the old woman manages to convince a police officer to accompany her in a cross-country chase to catch the girl. It's necessary to the plot that the police officer be at the denouement, but it doesn't make sense to me that he would allow himself to be caught up in the chase for a child who has not broken any laws). I can see how some children might enjoy this story (it has courageous children and evil grown-ups and lots of adventure and danger), but mature fantasy readers will probably find that there are just too many plot holes to fall into.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Jim Dale, who has just the right sort of voice for this type of story. While I don't much care for his interpretation of the Harry Potter books, I thought he did well by this one.

(Reviewed from an e-audiobook borrowed through my library system.)

No comments:

Post a Comment