Friday, February 21, 2014

Sweet, Strange Song (Mostly Strange)


I would recommend this to music lovers who also like YA. It also helps if you're not cynical and jaded like I am. Sigh.

Okay, so I did really want to like this one. I like boarding school stories, I like that this was not a vampire/werewolf/zombie story, and, okay, let's face it, the cover is pretty sweet (ha ha! A pun!). I tried very hard to push my way through, but it was a bit like swimming through molasses. I do like ponderous, slowly-unfurling narratives, but this one was a bit too ponderous for me. The main thing, however, is that I didn't care about the main character and whether her hopes and dreams were realized or not. 

I can only comment on what I actually read, which I think was 17% in. Chapter 15. 

So. As you can see from the synopsis, our main character's name is Sing da Navelli. The author goes to great pains to assure us that her name is totally intentional and embarrassing to the MC, so we should feel sorry for her instead of pointing and saying, "Ha ha!" à la Nelson, in the Simpsons. Sing says that her parents meant it as a command, and wanted to map her future by naming her thusly. Okaayyy, but then, a few pages later, we learn that Sing's mother, a world-famous soprano, didn't want her daughter to sing, but rather be a pianist. She seemed vehemently opposed to Sing's singing (which is so inane to write that I can't even). But then! In a cruel twist of fate (dun dun dunnnnn), Sing's mother dies performing in Sing's favorite opera! Sing, being rather a nasty human specimen, goes on to complain that her mother ruined and tainted her favorite opera by have the bad taste to die while performing it. Geez, mom, couldn't you have picked the one I didn't like so much? God. *hair flip*

Can you see why I got frustrated with this? SO. Being down one soprano in the family, Sing's father, a famous Italian maestro (conductor) decides that NOW Sing must become a ... world-famous soprano. Shades of Donkeyskin, no? Sing is happy to do what she loves but hates being trotted out like her dad's pet pony. BUT she's accepted into a prestigious Conservatory thathappens to have been founded by the composer who wrote her favorite opera (which was then sullied by her mother's very rude death). How convenient. 

And THEN! There is a mystery in the woods surrounding the conservatory. Don't go in the woods ... you might never come out. Woooo woooooooo!


This also involves a celestial/godlike being who's trapped in the form of a cat, and a raven who turned into a guy. For a good raven-as-guy story, please see Tamora Pierce's Trickster Duet. I skimmed ahead to the end and honestly didn't feel like I missed anything.

The other major problem I had with this is that it was like reading in a secret code. The author clearly wants verisimilitude in her musical world, but that same precision also makes it sound pretentious, not to mention making it also rather dull. When people get all het up about trilling a B flat, well, I kind of tune out. 8 years of piano did it for me with that, thanks. 

I do think that the author has talent, and I wish that some of the stranger elements had been removed and the more stock characters (evil diva, her hot BF, mysterious hot guy) had been fleshed out and/or changed to be more like, I don't know, real people? I do like a good boarding school mystery, but this one was a bit too niche.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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