Forgotten Fridays: The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell

Posted March 14, 2014 by Kara in book review, forgotten fridays, Kara, Lyn / 0 Comments

forgotten fridays
Welcome to Forgotten Fridays. This mission of this feature is, twice a month, to review books that are more than a year old. And we review them TOGETHER! Most reviews have minor spoilers because it is hard to block them out in a back and forth dialogue about a book. So keep that in mind when reading, though we do try to not mention anything that would ruin a book for anyone.
This week was Kara’s turn to pick our read, and I was not a fan.  Kara and Lyn both found positive and negative qualities in this historical mystery.

Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she’s confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it’s a comfortable life, and if it weren’t for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too.

But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old murder mystery—and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too. Kathleen O’Dell deftly weaves magic, secret identities, evil villians, unlikely heroes, and the wonder of friendship into a mystery adventure with all the charm of an old fashioned classic.

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Kara: Okay, ladies. I woke up from my nap just for this. You’d better be entertaining. I am pretty incoherent so I apologize if I seem drunk or rambling in my conversation here. Now let’s get started. I thought The Aviary was just decent, to be honest. I thought, at first, it was just me and my age being too old for this, but then I thought back to all the other middle grade novels that I have loved, and it’s just not the case. Something was off about this book for me. What did you guys think?

 

Bekka:  Well, I DNF’d it. I’ve liked middle grade in the past, so I honestly think it was this book in particular, not the age difference, that mattered.

 

Lyn: I didn’t think it was bad. In fact, I loved the ending, and Frances was a character I ended up loving, but I was just too weighed down with the overall sad tone, and the detached writing. I never knew what the main character was really feeling. And there was a LOT of emotions in this book. Like, Emotion Titanic levels.

 

Kara: Oddly enough, that was one of my main issues. I didn’t FEEL anything for the characters. I liked the birds but I did not feel particularly attached to them. And I think that was my main issue. I felt the writing style was telling me way too much and not showing me nearly enough. If you tell me how I should feel, it’s just never going to work. Also, I felt a lack of tension in the writing. I feel this with some other middle grade books too, so I feel like it’s a writing style I can’t get used to, and that’s probably one of those, “It’s not you, it’s me” type of things. I do think if I had read this as an actual middle grader that I probably would have liked it A LOT more.

 

Lyn: I still can’t get past the sad birds. I know the birds were special but I picked up on the absolute misery of the animals. I did a paper on middle school about birds going insane and such, and the parallel issues caused me a lot of distress.

 

Bekka:  I found the situation the birds were in to be sad. Mike’s family has a few pet birds and they’re so well taken care of. But then I think about these tropical birds in The Aviary living outside in one cage together and it makes me sad.

 

Lyn: Right??! No one really cares for them until their secret is discovered! So, if they were just ordinary birds, doing BIRD things, then they deserve to sit, neglected and disliked, in the elements, because they are doing what birds do?! It was incredibly insensitive and horrible! I’m going to start crying again because I thought the treatment of the birds was very despicable.

 

Kara: As a former bird owner who loved and took care of two parrots (my mom made me give them away), what would have made you feel okay with their treatment, Lyn? Is it just the fact that they were in cages, or was it that they were unsheltered from the elements that bothered you? I never actually thought much about the treatment, but I did feel bad for them, spending all that time in a cage and never being let out.

 

Lyn: Birds require a lot of interaction. They are highly intelligent, and (sad stuff coming) birds will go insane with a proper diet of attention due to their intelligence. Hell, one bird was pulling out her feathers, and no one cared? No one though this was an issue? Oh, yeah, they were just horrible scary birds. I’m really steamed over the treatment of the animals.

 

Kara: Yeah, I had forgotten about the plucking until now. Good point. You’ve made me see it differently. I just figured that since they had each other, it wasn’t too bad. I mean, it was a really sad situation either way and I wanted them to be free, but I didn’t actually consider it abuse until I heard your viewpoint. So sad.

 

Bekka:  I feel like we are always getting caught up in the way the animals are treated in these books.  We need to start picking books with animal protagonists or something, to balance the bad stuff.

 

Lyn: Good point.

 

Kara: Yeah, I feel like I should apologize for this one after the way I reacted to the last one. It’s almost like it’s karma or something.

 

Lyn: I don’t want to end this on a depressing note. Kara, the ending was actually really touching, and I was very shocked about the resolve of the mystery. It did warm my heart to see a very bittersweet ending.

 

Bekka:  I obviously didn’t make it that far.  I think mainly because I didn’t like the historical setting.  When reading a historical book I like to have something that identifies what time period we’re in and not just random placings of “Thee” and “Dear.”

 

Kara: Good point, Bekka. There wasn’t a whole lot of imagery or sense of place, was there?

 

Lyn: In my animal righteous mode, I totally missed that.

 

Kara: Yeah, it makes sense. I am just trying to think of all the reasons why the book didn’t work for me. I mean, I liked it, but something wasn’t right and I also think that was one of the reasons. I loved the ending too though. It was a nice way to wrap it up, and even though I could see it coming, I thought it was peaceful and touching, and I love happy endings and standalone novels. It’s a rare thing these days.

 

Lyn: I gave it three stars, because I did like the ending.

 

Kara: That’s what I ended up giving it too. I really wish I could have given it more, but I cannot justify it.

 

Lyn: Can I mention how excited I am over the next pick?

 

Kara: Me too. I bought it already, and I read the first page and I am pretty sure I am going to love it. You both have read it, right?

 

Lyn: I read only one book by the author, and it is seriously one of my top five favorite books, ever.

 

Kara: Oh, so you read Midwinterblood, but not White Crow? And for Bekka this is a reread? SHould be interesting! I am excited!

 

Bekka:  Yes! I love Marcus Sedgwick so I can’t wait for you guys to join in on the fun!

 

Lyn: Right, just Midwinterblood. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

 

Kara: I hope I connect with the writing style. I think I will. I am SO EXCITED.
Kara, Lyn:  Three Stars
Bekka:  DNF

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