Sunday, April 8, 2012

MIDDLE GRADE SUNDAY: Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Pages: 307Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

Every once and awhile, a middle grade novel strikes my fancy. It intrigued me as a galley (that I didn’t get) at Book Expo. I’ve never read a Lauren Oliver novel before, but have only heard great things about her books, so I decided to give it a go.
I thought this was a great, darkly whimsical read. Oliver created wonderful characters in Liesl, Po, and Will. I just wanted all three of them to not be lonely anymore. Also, to give them each a hug and a cookie. Liesl was endearingly brave and driven--even in her dismal situation with her stepmother, she doesn’t sit around and wallow. Once she meets Po, she does everything to get Po to contact her dead father for her. She’s strong in the face of awful things. Po was curious and quite considerate of Liesl, making for a great friend and companion for her. And Will’s adoration of Liesl is just adorable. I’m telling you, I’m not kidding about wanting to give all of these kids hugs. And maybe some cocoa too.
The Lady Premiere, the alchemist, and Liesl’s stepmother made for awesome middle grade villains. First of all, they’re all in a position of authority over either Liesl and Po, they are driven by their greed, and they are abusive via physical, emotional, or neglectful means. They’re essentially the worst.
I loved the setting and the ideas about the areas between the worlds. The fact that people blurred and lost their names, genders, and personalities (basically everything that made them unique humans) was a new and interesting concept. It was definitely one that I didn’t think would come up in a middle grade novel. Also, the fact that Po was one of these shades and managed to be an engaging, likeable character was wonderful to me.
Lauren Oliver’s Liesl and Po was a wonderfully crafted story about friendship and magic. Oliver very clearly has a talent for creating worlds and lovable characters. I’m looking forward to reading everything else she has written!

Rating: 5 - fantastic!

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