Friday, April 15, 2011

Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie

Title: Violet Eyes
Author: Debbie Viguie
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 23, 2010
Date Read: April 5 - 6, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars

When a storm brings the dashing Prince Richard to her family's farm, Violet falls in love at first sight. Richard also gives Violet his heart, but he knows his marriage is destined to be an affair of state, not of passion. For the king and queen have devised a contest to determine who will win their son's hand in marriage.

To be reunited with her prince, Violet must compete against princesses from across the land. It will take all of her wits - and a little help from an unexpected source - if Violet is to demonstrate the depth of her character and become Richard's bride.

Meh. I was conflicted about how many stars to rate this book so I just went with 3. When I was a younger teen I loved the Once Upon a Time series of fairy-tale retellings but now they just seem juvenile. After reading Beauty (Robin McKinley) I sort of expect more character development and subplots in my retellings. 

One thing I did love about Violet Eyes was that if you didn't know that it was a retelling of the Princess and the Pea from the start, you wouldn't necessarily have found out until part way through. The elements of the original plot: princess competition, sleeping on a pea, etc. weren't introduced until later on in the story. Many of Debbie Viguie's changes reminded me of Once Upon a Mattress, a Broadway musical about the tale. 

Once again I found the characters to be two-dimensional without much development. While I did appreciate Violet's independence and feminism I found it quite juxtaposition with her head-over-heels romance with Richard. I didn't really understand the attraction and wished that Debbie had included more conversations between the two. Violet's friends at the castle seemed to be the stereotypical "best friends" with no real purpose other than to encourage Violet and give her someone to talk to. However I loved Goldie, how she deserved the crown, her family issues. I almost wish the novel was about her rather than Violet. 

As a plot I thought the contests at the castle were brilliant and very well laid out, especially the "sleep-on-a-pea" at the end. Plot twist! So ingenious to write it that Violet was never supposed to feel the pea. I didn't really understand the subplot of Violet's mother's illness and wish it had been expanded on or more pertinent to the plot rather than just something Violet worried about all the time. I also found the revelation that Violet was a princess to be completely unrealistic and very "soap-opera"-ish for her mother to reveal it on her deathbed. I almost wish it had been reveled at the end rather than the beginning or maybe if Richard had decided he didn't need to marry a princess? I realize now I spent most of the novel rewriting it in my head to make it better. Oops!

I just wanted to mention my reasoning for my favourite quote. I loved how completely random this plot point was, but also how nonchalantly it was expressed. So hilarious and refreshing compared to Twilight and all the other werewolf novels. 

Favourite Quote: "You really are in love with a werewolf, aren't you?" "Descendant. It's complicated," Arianna said. She smiled. "But that's love!"

Recommended: Snow (Tracy Lynn), Beauty (Robin McKinley), An Earthly Knight (Janet McNaughton)

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