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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: September 21, 2010
Pages: 359
Source: Won from HarperTeen
Author's Website: http://www.emilywhitman.com/
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars - I Liked It
Description (from the jacket): When Addy is swept back in time, she couldn't be happier to leave her miserable life behind. Now she's mistaken for Lady Matilda, the pampered ward of the king. If Addy can play her part, she'll have glorious gowns, jewels, and something she's always longed for—the respect and admiration of others. But then she meets Will, the falconer's son with sky blue eyes, who unsettles all her plans.
From shipwrecks to castle dungeons, from betrothals to hidden conspiracies, Addy finds herself in a world where she's not the only one with a dangerous secret. When she discovers the truth, Addy must take matters into her own hands. The stakes? Her chance at true love….and the life she's meant to live.


In short: Wildwing by Emily Whitman was an interesting look into 13th century England but I found I could not relate to the main character and her motivations.

Wildwing by Emily Whitman tells the story of Addy, a girl born out of wedlock in 1913 England. Because of this, she is mocked by her peers and is forced to be a lowly maid. When she finds a time machine in her employer's home she doesn't hesitate to leave her miserable life behind and go to live in the 13th century where she's treated as a grand lady. Once there she meets Will, the falconer's son. The actual identity of Will was very obvious. Although in the author's defense, I don't think she really meant it to be a big surprise reveal at the end or else I believe she would have tried harder to make his identity a mystery.

Throughout most of the book I wasn't sure what to make of Addy's personality. There were times that I felt sympathetic towards her and her crappy life as a bastard child in the early 1900's. But my empathy quickly dissipated once she assumed the role of Lady Matilda and became horribly selfish. Her desire to have people serve her and be rich was a big character turn off for me. In one scene, she decides not to stand up for a kitchen boy who was beaten and threatened because she worries it will hurt her position as a grand lady. Also, I found it strange that never once did she worry about the life that she left back home, her mother specifically. When she plans on spending the rest of her life in the 13th century, her thoughts are never that she will miss her single mother who raised her, only her concern that she won't be able to be with Will in the way she would like.

Two thirds of the way into the novel, the story starts to pick up and Addy redeems herself mostly when she realizes her priorities in life. I really did enjoy the last part of the story as the plot reaches a peak and the story becomes a bit more interesting. I really responded to Whitman's writing style; it was very strong I thought. I also really enjoyed the scenes where Will was teaching Addy the art of hawking. It was fascinating learning about how birds of prey were used to hunt in the 13th century. Speaking of which, Novel Novice posted an interview with Whitman in which she admits to some historical inaccuracies that she had to allow for the sake of the story. I found that I really don't have a problem with any of the changes she had to make. I understood she had to do what she had to for the plot to progress.

There's just one last nitpicky thing that I feel like I have to mention and yet it probably is only a big deal to me. When Addy travels to the past she lands in the same spot she left, just 670 years earlier. Whitman describes the land in the area and the bluff leading down to a river as being familiar to Addy, not having changed any. WTF? This would simply not happen. The processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition are ALWAYS in effect and the land and river and slope down to the river would be very much different almost 700 years later!!!! Sorry, this just really bugged me O_O

ETA: I've thought of something else that bothered me and the more I think of it, the more it gets to me. SPOILER COMING UP. My problem is that wouldn't the future have been altered once Addy returned from the 13th century (Back To The Future style)? Even just a small change can change the course of the future and more than just a small change was made. Addy's employer, Mr. Greenwood, also goes back in time to meet Addy when he finds out she's gone. Once there, he educates the people on technologies that are advanced for the time. How would this not change the future? ...I'm probably overthinking this, aren't I?.

Other Reviews:
Small Review
Novel Novice  

10 comments :

  1. A placeholder for me? You are beyond awesome. :) Now I'd better get started on my review!

    I finished the book last night and I had similar complaints about the main character. I couldn't fully connect with her because I didn't like her all that much. I understand she'd prefer to be a grand lady instead of the position she held in her twentieth century life, but her attitude and the way she went about things just rubbed me the wrong way. Her priorities were pretty off base.

    That said, I still enjoyed the book and Emily Whitman is now an author I'll be watching. I would have put in an order for her first book already, but I'm trying to have at least a little self-restraint.

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  2. Oh, you removed the "I'm not a bot" thing for posting comments. Much appreciated!

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  3. Yes, I really tried to like her but she was just mean at times. Like when she freaked out at Will because she didn't like the first bird he trained for her.
    Also, was it just me or did the author use the word "grand" a lot?
    I've heard her first book is better actually so I think I would be willing to give her another shot.
    And yes, I realized when I was commenting on other people's posts that it is really quite annoying to have to type out nonsensical words all the time. I just hope I don't get any spam now that I've removed it!

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  4. I know! That was so mean and demanding. Very off-putting, even if she was trying to play a role. I guess she was so used to being treated meanly that the only way she knew how to be a "grand lady" was to act mean and since she wanted to act convincingly that was the only thing she knew how to do. I get that, but....it seemed to go a little deeper than just an act sometimes. She relished it too much.

    I don't remember about grand much. Just that she would say a "grand lady" a lot. Hm, now I'm curious.

    I haven't gotten any spam. I think blogger blocks most spam now for you.

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  5. I'm probably just nitpicking about the "grand" thing. It seemed everything was grand this and grand that.
    Good to know about the spam.

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  6. No, you might very well be right. When I was writing the summary I kept catching myself writing "grand" a bunch, and then deleting it because I thought of your comment. :)

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  7. I love that review! Not a book I would read but I'm picky about those sorts of things too.

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