Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mantchev, Lisa: Eyes Like Stars (Theatre Illuminata, #1)

July 7, 2009
Feiwel and Friends
YA Fantasy/Humor, 352 pages
Acquired and read: Via local library cooperative; it took me a day and a night

All her world’s a stage. 

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater. She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents. She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own. That is, until now. 

Enter Stage Right 

NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie. 

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks. 

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom. 

BERTIE. Our heroine. 

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book — an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family — and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known. 

Okay, I might be getting way ahead of myself and over-generalizing here but: authors with a background in theater are AWESOME.

I've been seeing Eyes Like Stars around for like the past two years, but for some reason I kept putting off getting my hands on a copy - mostly because high school had me studying like a bear eating its body weight before spending the winter napping. I totally regret that now, because that was definitely a time I needed a perky pick-me-up like WHOA.

First of all...please tell me how I can end up living at the Theatre Illuminata - minus becoming a foundling child the way Bertie was. It seemed like every other page I was going green with envy, thinking, "Why do places like these only exist in books?!" I mean, Bertie's room is part of the set. How unique can you get?

Also, the writing. A major point I've always given to authors with a background in the performing arts is the way the story just seems to flow. When you read Eyes Like Stars - at least to me - it unfolds around you like the perfect movie script. (Speaking of which, this needs to be a movie. Now.)

None of the characters are cardboard cut-outs, or take over the stage from anyone else. The only person I really couldn't warm up to was Ariel - mainly because in spite of his NOT being The Little Mermaid, his character was pretty similar. He wanted to be part of that world at all costs...but he went a little far in doing so. Even if it all ended well (and no, I don't count that as a spoiler, thank you very much), I still kept him at arm's length.

Nate on the other hand...

Oh, and one last push in the right direction: if you don't want to read it for anything I described up there, read it for the fairies - you know, Peaseblossom, Mustardseed...those little cuties from A Midsummer Night's Dream? I always thought that if they had more screen time, they'd really ham it up, and in Eyes Like Stars, they really do.

Example: the "Diva" vs. "Divo" scene on page 45. Not only was this cute, it was also funny because my sister and I have had that exact same debate - ie. is Joe Jonas categorized as a diva or a divo? (Don't ask.)

Warnings: Bare fairy bottoms, a naked ghost, bathing with a pirate and innuendo, OH MY!

Final verdict: Read it. It will make your heart happy. It definitely made mine. And if Lisa Mantchev ever offers a writing mentorship, please let me know?


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