Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve TucholkeWink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Published by Dial BFYR on March 22, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Magical Realism, Thriller, Fairy Tales
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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four-stars

The intrigue of The Virgin Suicides and the "supernatural or not" question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Raven Boys, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.

Tucholke’s debut book was one I black sheeped on HARD. Friends I usually agree with and pretty much everyone else too loved it. They thought the writing was magical, the characters fascinating, and the subject interesting. I didn’t get anything special from the writing, found the characters wooden, and hated the way things shook out. The funny thing is, opinions being subjective, I think we’re all right. All that to say that I really wasn’t planning to read Wink Poppy Midnight. But then, oh then, I read an excerpt of it, even though I never read excerpts, and I really desperately wanted to know what would happen next. Tucholke seriously impressed me with this one. It’s awesome and it’s weird as hell.

There’s a lot of overlay between Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Wink Poppy Midnight, thematically. The subject matter is different, as is the genre, but there’s a lot that really hit in the same place. With this one, though, all the punches fell where they were meant to. With this one, I was completely captured by Tucholke’s whimsical, poetical prose. She pulls off three first person narrative voices flawlessly and the different writing quirks each has come across as real rather than annoying. That’s massively impressive, in and of itself.

The characters, for me, were still the weakest aspect of the story. I find them deeply fascinating, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in them at all. Part of that might be due to how strange the story is. Also, it wasn’t so much that I loved any of them, but that they’re just genuinely super interesting, whether or not I like them. There are strong fairy tale influences here, and there’s often sort of a dreamy, everyman sense to those characters which carries through to Wink Poppy Midnight.

What I do super love, though, is Midnight’s role in the story. Though cast as the hero or the thief by Wink, Midnight is, very clearly, the damsel in distress. He has very little willpower or strength, and he doesn’t know how to save himself. He’s pretty much always either doing what Poppy wants or following along with Wink’s rhythm. If this story had been all the same but with Midnight as a girl and Wink and Poppy as sexy mysterious guys, I would not have enjoyed it as much as I did. These atypical relationship dynamics are super important.

The two girls are so unique and strong in comparison to Midnight. Poppy is bossy, manipulative and incredibly cruel. She’s strong and very much uses her powers for evil. The pretty blonde is the wolf in this story. Wink, on the other hand, comes across as a bit of a hippie flake, but, she too, is strong. She is so confident in who she is and refuses to feel ashamed of who she is or how her family lives. The peer pressure and bullying of high school do not affect her. That is serious strength, one that we don’t see represented too often.

This story is mad weird, guys. I mean, I honestly don’t know how to feel about a lot of it still, even though I’ve been thinking about it for a while. But whatever I can’t discuss the big stuff without spoilers anyway. What was cool was that, though I called some of the resolutions, I still was really surprised to see things shake out that way, which is pretty much an author win/win. Either you didn’t see it coming or you’re like “oh man she really went there.”

The romance didn’t do a whole hell of a lot for me. I didn’t really feel the connection between Wink and Midnight to be honest. I think, partly, it’s that Midnight is so much needing direction from others, so he just kind of latches onto Wink when he senses that her strength of character might be enough to help him resist Poppy.

That’s pretty much all I know how to say about this book without spoiling anything. And it’s weird because it’s not even that spoilery for most of the book, but most of Wink Poppy Midnight is atmosphere and writing and just the feel of it, which I really can’t properly explain. I think if you love the writing, you’re going to be happy you’ve read it, even if you’re left with a bit of WTF was that.

Favorite Quote:

If I was going to lead a life of desperation, then it would be loud, not quiet.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif sassy hot girl

3 responses to “Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke”

  1. This looks interesting. I guess they had me at “For fans of Holly Black […] and The Raven Boys,” but sometimes publishers say things like that and it turns out not to be true. Putting this on my TBR list. 🙂

  2. I’ve been super on the fence about this one even though I didn’t read her first book. I had a feeling I would have been in the black sheep group too. But hmmm! You have me intrigued. 🙂
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Something To Look Forward To – Week of February 22nd, 2016My Profile

  3. I’m excited but also really scared to read this. I read the sample awhile ago and oh my god it made me SO uneasy! But I had to keep reading… I just know if/when I do read this, my anxiety levels will be through the roof haha. I really loved Between The Devil and I enjoyed the sequel as well but both still left me with that creepy crawly feeling. I like that you mentioned the relationship dynamics, that definitely sounds like it will set WPM apart from other books.

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