Monday, September 28, 2015

Good, But Not Really A Good Read for Teens

Source: Publisher Website
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (2011; Roaring Brook Press, 2013, 272pp.)

Midwinterblood, which won YALSA’s 2014 Printz Award, is not a novel so much as it is a collection of seven linked short stories that focus on the theme of sacrifice, be it metaphorical, or of the human sacrifice variety. Each story takes place on the fictional Scandanavian island of Blessed, at different points in history, ranging from the year 2073, to an unnamed year in mankind’s prehistory. The one thing that ties the stories together is that each contains a male character named Eric, and a female character named Merle. Even though Eric and Merle’s roles change dramatically with each new chapter, it’s the fate of this man and woman that ultimately forms the heart and purpose of Sedgwick’s work of fiction.

For us adults, Midwinterblood can be seen as a strange but impressive literary feat. Although it starts out slow, it gets better with each chapter. The deeper you descend into the guts of the work, the darker and weirder each chapter becomes—and, consequently, the more gripping! Now, in regards to how teens will like it? Don't be surprised if you don’t see a sudden demand for this novel at your library. Printz Awards focus on literary quality, not on popularity. Midwinterblood will certainly never be a mega-bestseller, nor will it be universally appreciated by teens. By virtue of its content, it would really fare better in the hands of dedicated mature readers, say, ages 17 to adult, mainly due to its subject matter. That’s not to say there’s a lot of graphic sex and violence involved. No, Sedgwick is really more interested in exploring the theme of love, and not the fiery, passionate kind, either. While there is a chapter dedicated to a pair of doomed lovers, Midwinterblood is mostly concerned with mature love, such as the kind found in a decades-old marriage, or the simple, basic human connection achieved between different generations. While it may be impressive to adults, it’s certainly not exciting enough to grab your average teen's interest right off the bat. I’ll just say this: it’s not a book that I would recommend lightly for teens. If, however, you feel the need to share it with this age group, I would recommend the older age bracket, ages 16-up.

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