Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Liza wakes one morning to find that her brother has been taken by the spindlers, creepy little spider people who steal away your soul and leave a crumbling, changeling body in its place. But Liza knows all about spindlers thanks to her babysitter, Anna, and she is going below to get her brother back. She literally falls on her guide, a rat named Mirabella, and the two travel through the Below to the spindler's nest where Liza finds herself betrayed and more alone than ever. Now she must get her brother's soul back, or risk losing her own soul to the spindlers.
I have such mixed feelings about this book. It's one part changeling story and one part Gregor the Overlander. Like I said yesterday, I had trouble getting into The Spindlers. I tried several times, then, as my borrowing period was about to expire, I gave it one last push. I felt that for a changeling story, it was okay, but nothing new. I kept remembering a less than popular book that I reviewed several years ago, The Unseen World of Poppy Malone: Gaggle of Goblins. Poppy's little brother was replaced with a changeling, no one believes her and she goes to save him. In this book, Liza's younger brother is replaced by a changeling, no one believes her and she goes to save him. All changeling books are going to work like that (unless it is the deliciously dark YA book, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, where the changeling sticks around to adolescence and fights against his own people to save the children of his town).
My problem is audience. Poppy Malone was pretty light-hearted, I'd say for third graders, but The Spindlers can be pretty intense, so it is going up against the Gregor crowd. And I'd say as far as broad appeal, Gregor wins. It has a male protagonist, a huge gross-out factor, and is a continuing series.
Due to my love for Liesl and Po, I was expecting more, but I got a lackluster, cliche story like Delirium instead. Yes, Liesl and Po is also pretty cliche, but in a different, less fantastical way. I felt like The Spindlers and Delirium both were reusing pretty common fantasy elements, and it frankly bored me. But maybe I am wrong. I know that Delirium is a wildly popular series, even though I'm not on board with it, and The Spindlers could entirely be a huge hit with the middle grade set. That's what I miss about not being a librarian, I know my opinion, but it is so much harder to find out the opinion of the readers. Maybe I'll turn VBS into a book club so I can get a little feedback. Nope, better not, it's going to be hard enough to pull as is.
So, I give The Spindlers a heartfelt 3, it's a solid effort, but just not blowing me away.