Margaret K. Mc Elderry Books | ARC, 317 pages
Publication Date: August 5th, 2014
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
If I have a Ghost living in the
underbelly basement of my house (dear God, I really hope not) who grants wishes provided I give it an offering of sorts, I’d wish that I liked this book as much as everybody did. When a book left you apathetic towards the characters’ plights, you know it wasn’t a good read. Under normal circumstances, and given how this book ended, I would’ve been in a state of furor. All I said when I finally closed the book was, huh.
Much has been said about how wonderfully original this book is (Phantom of the Opera set in a slaughterhouse). And while I can appreciate that undertaking, it really came down to how very little I felt for Wen. She has a predisposition to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. Admirable when warranted, irritating in copious amounts. Wen is a puzzling character. She’s shown so much potential to be a strong character, but it’s as if she never got there. She sympathized for the oppressed; sacrificed most of her priceless gowns to buy medicine and pay for the Noor’s debts; and with very little self-preservation, she defended the Noor against the prejudices of her fellowmen. And yet even with all these fine traits, I felt that all were nullified by her constant “woe-is-me” attitude.
The world Wen lived in is predominantly male; and with it comes the constant threat of being sexually assaulted. This is also the part where I thought Wen could’ve used a healthy dose of calcium in her backbones. She kept waiting for someone to save her; and sometimes, she was even expecting it. I understand the desperation of being in somebody else’s mercy, and the fact that she grew up relatively protected from the world she knew now. But I thought that this is where the author squandered the chance to empower her character. Instead, Wen was saved time and again by either Melik, the Ghost, or her father. She saved herself once…by using her feminine wiles and implying that she was another man’s property. Sigh.
In a manner of speaking, there is a love triangle here. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who’d seen/read/heard of The Phantom of the Opera. For me to explain why a love triangle didn’t really exist would be to reveal the identity of the Ghost. So I’m just going to leave it at that. So we come to Melik, the Noor that Wen felt such a strong attraction to since day one. However, I felt impervious towards this pairing. No stirrings of fondness, even. None.
The one thing I felt a strong emotion for were the mechanical spiders; granted, that emotion was abhorrence. I felt as much repugnance for them as I did for the men who treated the women here as objects.
So I’m in a bit of a conundrum. My blogger friends, Alexa and Bethzaida loved this book. Me? Not so much. However, that’s two against one. So I think, you should put this review at the very, very, very back of your mind and give this book a chance anyway.