When I first saw that this book was available for review on NetGalley I was beyond ecstatic due to the fact that this book is being marketed as a modern day version of the classic romance of Tristan and Isolde (and the cover! Look at it! Isn't it gorgeous?). As it is being marketed as such I thought that classic-ness/epic-ness would transfer over to this retelling of it. And it didn't. At. All. If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be cliched.
I am not the type of person to not finish a book (in fact, I cannot recall a book that I have ever not finished before), but there were countless times while reading this book I kept thinking, "Why am I doing this to myself?!?" And it pains me to admit this, but this is by far my most disappointing read of 2011, if not ever.
I think that the most frustrating thing about this book were the characters. Few, if any of them, showed any redeeming qualities (Mark, Isolde's original boyfriend, was the exception on occasion). The large majority of them were completely one-dimensional and totally unrealistic. But by far the worst character was Isolde. She is so unbelievably shallow that it isn't even funny. Here are just a few samplings of what comes out of her mouth/ her thought processes*:
"Branna won't even wear makeup or curl her hair. She puts it in a braid to keep it out of her face, not to make herself prettier. Once in a blue moon, she will wear a dress. She doesn't understand that sometimes you have to get a guy's attention first, and then afterward you can let it be more natural" (7%).*
"[Isolde speaking of love triangles when she herself is in the middle of one] I had always thought love triangles were lame. Girls who refused to choose between two good guys were the worst scum of the earth. And I didn't much like guys who let themselves be jerked around, either. But this was different" (51%).*
"It seemed likely that I was going to have to throw this outfit away, along with the other one I'd worn earlier. It was a shame, too, because I really liked the way the khakis fit my butt. I hadn't even had the chance to ask Tristan what he thought" (76%).*
And despite being extremely shallow and vain, no one could help but love her! Even after she ripped Mark's heart out and ground it underneath her itty bitty foot he not only was a doll to her, but saved her life! And she was anything but nice to Tristan and he couldn't help but declare his undying love for her (pretty much moments after having met her). And Tristan? Well, he was essentially lifeless- we barely saw a glimmer of his personality. All that we really know about him is that he speaks in a funny manner (which Isolde unfailingly points out every time he opens his mouth) and that he carries a sword larger than him around (an invisible sword at that). And Brangane, Isolde's 'best friend', was such a contradictory character, on the one hand she was completely spiteful and vicious, on the other she was a mousy almost wallflower type of character.
Aside from the characters, what also bothered me about the book was the writing style. I felt that it was overly melodramatic and bordered on being juvenile at times. Furthermore, I felt that overall the book was quite anticlimatic. The characters had it pretty easy overall, a lot was given to them, they didn't really have to fight for themselves or experience all that much in the way of a struggle (for instance, in the end of the book when Tris was blinded from the poison of an extremely powerful/rare snake, Isolde's mother pulls a potion seemingly out of thin air that was just the cure for said poison).
For me personally this is an extremely disappointing read as the only thing that the Tris and Izzie of this tale share with the original Tristan and Isolde is their names. I think that perchance younger individuals (older MGers or very young YA's) will like this book (that is if they are unfamiliar with the tale of Tristan and Isolde) because, despite my complaints, it is extremely easy and lighthearted read with a fast paced storyline, but for older fans of YA I would recommend passing this book over. I personally know that I will not bother rereading this book.
*Please make note that this is only an E-ARC book of this book and as such the portions of the book that I have quoted may change between now and the final copy.
I received this book from the publisher/ NetGalley to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.
This book is set to be released October 11th, 2011.