Friday, December 27, 2013

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy


Title: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Author: Karen Foxlee
Series: N/A
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
Publication Date: January 28 2014
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads Summary: A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

My Thoughts
           The Snow Queen: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen is one of my favorite fairy tales. At the beginning of the story a group of demons make a mirror out of ice which when looked into twists reality and shows them as evil and unsatisfactory. The demons have a great time with this mirror and decide to fly it to the top of the world so that they can see all of humanity reflected in it. Unfortunately they are having such a good time that they drop it, and it shatters. Pieces of the glittering ice float through the air mixing with the snow until they are indistinguishable. One of these pieces pierces the eye and heart of Kai, the best friend of Greta. Soon after it pierces him he encounters the Snow Queen and flies away with her to her castle in the snow. Greta is heartbroken. She cannot live without her Kai, so she embarks on a dangerous journey to find her friend and bring him back. The journey is a string of challenges and events, each more dangerous than the last which test Greta, until finally, long after she began, Greta finds Kai deep within the Snow Queen's palace. He has almost frozen solid attempting to write the word eternity, the Snow Queen has promised that once he writes it he is free to leave, but he cannot remember no matter how hard he tries. It is then that Greta finds him, wraps her arms around him and cries. The tears fall upon his heart melting the piece of ice away, and he recognizes Greta it is then that he begins to cry which washes out the piece of ice in his eye. It is only then that unbeknownst to the children the ice blocks have formed themselves into the word, and Kai is free. The children then leave and return home, hand in hand.
                So, that's The Snow Queen in a nutshell. I was intrigued by this book, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, and found that it was quite good and brilliantly written. The characters were fantastic, but they were still children, and the author made that evident throughout the story. For the rest of this review I will focus on how the novel although seemingly very different from The Snow Queen incorporated elements of the fairy tale into its plot.

********WARNING SPOILERS********

            Ophelia is brave, but she's not perfect, much like Greta. She knows what is right, but knows that sometimes it can be hard to find the courage to do those things. When she meets the Marvelous Boy she is confused by his story and not sure what to believe, it is hard for her to understand that the museum curator is the Snow Queen, when she seems so nice to those around her. This is much like Kai and the Queen, in fact throughout the story Kai is not one character specifically, but rather a mixture of characters, Kai is The Marvelous Boy, Alice and even Ophelia's father. These are the people that Ophelia will save if she does as the Marvelous Boy asks. The tasks he sends her to do are hard and very scary. One of the first tasks involves walking through a room full of ghost girls they are thieves who want Ophelia's memories to make them stronger. At first Ophelia is terrified, this is totally unfamiliar to her and more than a little alarming, but one ghost girl stays by her side and helps her through. This is similar to the part of the fairy tale when Greta encounters bandits. At first the bandits seem terrible and completely evil, but one of them befriends Greta and protects her before sending her on her way better than she left. This episode illustrates that appearances can be deceiving. Next, Ophelia has to cross a room full of jaguars in order to get a key in the next room, the jaguars are terrifying, but a ghost girl fends them off in order for Ophelia to reach the key. This can be compared to the part of The Snow Queen when Greta must face a terrible army of snowflakes that guard the palace. Just when it seems all is lost angels appear in front of Greta and fend off the forces of evil. 
               Just as the journey to the Snow Queen's palace stretched Greta to her limits, and further, the quest to stop the Snow Queen from taking over the world stretches Ophelia farther than she ever thought she could go. One of my favorite scenes in the novel was when Ophelia finally found the Marvelous Boy, frozen in a snow drift where the Snow Queen had left him, much like Greta had done for Kai, Ophelia saves him from the bleak world of the Snow Queen. But, Ophelia goes one step farther and battles the Queen in order to stop her plan for world domination. In the fairy tale the queen does not seem to care if Kai leaves, as long as he finishes the puzzle first, it always seemed strange to me that the queen would let her prisoner go without so much as a fight. I enjoyed how Foxlee thought so too, and so she created a battle between the powerful forces of evil, and the simple yet brave forces of good, where the queen was defeated once and for all. 
             I loved this book, and read the whole thing in one sitting. I loved the guidance that Ophelia's mother gave her, and how Ophelia was willing to put others before herself. I loved how this novel stressed the importance of family and how Ophelia didn't just stop the world from falling apart, she stopped her family from falling apart. By acting instead of being acted upon Ophelia brought her small family back together, and saved the world.


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