Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Review: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Title:  Cloaked
Author:  Alex Flinn
Genre:  YA fairytale retelling
Pages:  341

Rating: C+

Synopsis from  I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED

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I loved Beastly by Alex Flinn so when I saw that my library had a few more of her books, I couldn't wait to read them.  But Cloaked did not live up to my expectations.  While I did enjoy the fact that Flinn adapted lesser known fairy-tales in this book, it didn't change the fact that the story was corny, full of stereotypes, and horribly cliched.  Now, I realize fairy-tales themselves are often cheesy, stereotypical, and cliched, but as an adaption, Cloaked could have avoided some of the cliches and given the characters more development (I'm not sure there's a way to remove the cheesiness from this plot).

The main character, Johnny, is the only character with any sort of depth to him.  He's your typical, hard-working American teenager... who wants to be a world-famous shoe designer.  His attraction to the hot princess and her money lead him on a crazy adventure, and his cynicism and baffled reactions towards the magic and events surrounding him is real and believable.

The rest of the characters are two-dimensional stereotypes.  The prince and princess are spoiled brats with ridiculous accents and Disney-princess/prince looks; the girl-next-door is obviously into Johnny but nowhere near pretty enough to tempt him; the villains are either bumbling idiots or wicked witches, all with stupid "Zalkenbourgian" accents.

What kept me from really disliking the book were the magical animals and the lesser-known fairy-tales.  The talking animals were funny, sarcastic, and a breath of fresh air.  I think I would've preferred an entire book about just them.  And the use of other fairy-tales besides the typical ones (Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.) was refreshing and fun.  I especially loved the story of the six swans who are rescued by their sister.

According to other Flinn fans, Cloaked is not her best work so I still intend to check out her other books (especially since I loved Beastly).  I'm just really glad this wasn't the first book of Flinn's I ever read, because I would have never given her other books a chance.  C+

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