Release Date: October 4th, 2011
Pages: It was something like 200, not even close to the 320 that Goodreads claims.
Genre: Middle-grade, fantasy
Cover: C+ (Average, I think it’s kind of tacky, actually)
* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This is/was a great read for anyone that is coping or has coped with a loss. It’s short, to the point, and makes a great statement about death and the loss of a loved one. But it’s done in a magical way. Now I don’t believe in the author’s beliefs, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book in the least. But you don’t want to hear about my beliefs so let’s skip that part.
Death/dying is a tough topic to write a middle-grade novel about. Especially the death of a loved one. I thought it was executed very well. I thought it was a great way to get the message across about life after death; if that’s something you believe. These days I never assume. But even if you don’t, it’s still a fantastical tale with ghosts and some great characters, especially the villains.
Capturing the middle-grade voice properly is one of the hardest things a writer will ever have to do. You have to write for kids, usually from the viewpoint of a kid. And it also has to be not preachy, hold their attention, and feel really authentic. Sound hard? Boy is it ever. I thought Lauren Oliver did a fantastic job. I have read so many preachy and lecture-like middle grade novels lately. And they make me so mad. I am happy to say that I never felt that way once with Liesl & Po.
Part of me wishes the novel was a little longer. I would have liked to spend a little more time getting to know Po and his little pet. They were my favorite characters by far. But I also liked Will. Liesl was a bit bratty, but with the life she had lived so far, I really couldn’t blame her.
If you was looking for a novel with a little magic, a great message, and a fun cast of characters, look no further. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys middle-grade or who has ever lost a loved one. Or both. Whatever.