Review: A Corner of White

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Corner of WhiteA Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
Series: The Colors of Madeleine #1
Published by Arthur A. Levine on April 1, 2013
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 375
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central

The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

First Sentence: “Madeleine Tully turned fourteen yesterday, but today she did not turn anything.”

A Corner of White is one of those stories that either is going to work for you or it’s not. I don’t really see there being too much of a middle ground on that. Either Moriarty’s world, storytelling and characters will entrance you or you’ll be bored and confused. Now, sadly, I fell into that latter camp of readers, but I really don’t want to tell anyone not to pick up this book, because I can see where it will work really well for other people.

The world building in A Corner of White is seriously kooky, and well-matched to the vary unique narrative style that Moriarty employs. The story concerns alternate universes, the world we know and a magical kingdom called Cello. A sort of hole opens up between the two allowing teens Elliot and Madeleine to communicate by means of parking meter (on her side) and broken TV (on his side in Cello). The story has a fairy tale vibe to it, and I could see A Corner of White pleasing readers who enjoyed Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, another very popular fairy tale that never worked for me personally. It’s just not the kind of quirky that works for me personally.

My biggest problem is that I read primarily for characters. I can put up with a lot for vibrant characters, but I always felt very distanced from Madeleine, Elliot and the others. I think partly this stems from Moriarty’s cinematic narrative style, in which she always sets the scene before focusing on the characters. Moriarty describes the characters over and over as she zooms in on them during scene changes. Other readers, though, really liked the characters, so I suspect this may have to do with how well the writing sits with you personally.

Without that connection to the characters, I was bored all the way through this 373 page book. My reading slowed down a lot because I found myself not wanting to go back to it. I just didn’t care about the people involved, so I couldn’t get invested in their goings on. At the end, a character might have died but I’m not sure and don’t care enough to find out for sure. Every single time I picked this book up, I would go from alert to exhausted. Within seconds of beginning to read, I would be yawning up a storm.

As I said, I think this book will be very hit-or-miss with readers. If you’re curious about it, give it a try. If Moriarty’s writing makes you laugh and comes alive like the technicolor explosion that it is, then the book is for you. If, like me, you feel like maybe Moriarty was trying a bit too hard, then it might not be for you.

Favorite Quote:

“Your guess is as good as mine.
Well, no, I doubt that actually. My guess would probably be better than yours.”

18 responses to “Review: A Corner of White”

  1. I am so sorry this didn’t work for you, I found this to be whimsical and connected with the characters and thought they were each unique. I also think this is a mood read, and you need to be in the right mind set for it. Lovely review:)

    • Christina says:

      I’m sorry too, and I’m not surprised that it did work for some people. I don’t think it was my mood at fault though. I think the style either works for you or it doesn’t, and it’s not right for me, sadly.

  2. Amy says:

    This sounds like it could be a really cute story, but I can see where it could go terribly wrong also. I have never read Ella Enchanted, but I hated the movie lol!! I don’t know if this would be for me. Great review!

  3. Soma Rostam says:

    Well, this is the first time I heard anything about this book. I love reading fairy tales so I guess if this gives off the same vibe, it would work for me perfectly
    Your reader,

  4. Renae M. says:

    Well, I did enjoy Ella Enchanted a lot, but this really does not speak to me. Everyone’s general “meh” attitude toward this has me convinced I should stay away. From what I can tell, this book’s narrative takes a long time to connected to, and I don’t generally have that kind of patience.

    • Christina says:

      You don’t have patience? You’ve pushed through so many one and two star books! But yeah, the lack of connection with the characters is what killed me for this book.

  5. Christine K. says:

    Aw, I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you. I read a short excerpt the other day and found it to be pretty interesting, but now I’m not so sure. Like you, I didn’t quite enjoy Ella Enchanted, and characters mean a lot when I’m reading. Eh, I might have to think more about this one. Also, the cover looks pretty misleading – I didn’t get an alternate universe-type vibe out of it at all! Great review, Christina 🙂

    Chri @ Ink Skies

    • Christina says:

      I’m sorry too. If you liked the excerpt, then you might like the book. You can always give it a try. On the plus side, the cover totally matches the story!

  6. Brandy says:

    I read primarily for characters too and I absolutely LOVED Elliot. He was my favorite part of this book. I do agree Madeleine is hard to connect with.

    So sorry this one didn’t work for you. I can see how Moriarty’s style is not going to work for everyone. This is true of her contemporary novels too. (Which I also love.)

    • Christina says:

      Oh, well, that’s cool! I didn’t connect to Elliot either, but I’m glad you did. He did read more like a teen, so I suppose I liked him more.

      I own one of her contemporaries, so I’ll be trying that at some point.

  7. I just don’t usually have the patience for books like this. I loved the whimsy in the writing and I think I might like her other books, but this one took too long to get going and I don’t regret DNFing it. I’m sure it’s lovely for the right person, I just don’t think it’s me. NOTHING was happening.

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, if it hadn’t charmed you, I doubt it would have, though Jamie did eventually get sucked in. Didn’t really get better for me, though.

  8. Molli Moran says:

    I’m an emotionally and character driven reader, so I’m not sure how I’ll feel about this one, either, but I’m interested in finding out at some point. It’s too bad you didn’t like it, but with the issues you had, I can absolutely understand!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  9. Jamie says:

    I’m glad we were reading this around the same time so I didn’t feel like I was the only one not getting it and having a hard time. I mean, I didn’t read FOR A WEEK because I didn’t want to have to pick up this book lol. Luckily it got better for me towards the end. I’m excited to pick up book 2 but I’m not sure it will be a priority sequel for me.

    I think you definitely articulated well some of the hardships in reading this one because I definitely agree on SO much of it.

    • Christina says:

      For real. When I’m struggling through a book, it’s nice to have someone else going through it, so that you can bond and not be alone. I always feel crazy when I read a book everyone else loves and don’t like it.

      I’m definitely not reading book two. I can’t.

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