Book Review: Tangled

March 1, 2010

Luscious, I thought.  That’s what I’ll be.  Not perfect.  Not flawless.  Luscious.

Tangled by Carolyn Mackler is the story of four teens and what happens after they take a trip to the Paradise resort in the Caribbean.

What I Liked

– The form.  The story takes place over four months, starting in April, and each month is narrated by a different character.  I certainly wasn’t expecting that, and after the first switch in narrator, it was fine.  Because such a huge chunk of the time is devoted to each character, there’s no real adjustment period aside from that first, “Oh, okay, so we’re with Dakota now.  Got it.”  It’s a very interesting choice, and it works so well because even though we leave a character, we still find out what’s going on with the other characters, so it’s not like they’re being left in the dust.  Part of the fun of the novel was seeing how/where/why they would show up again and how we’d get those nuggets of information about them.

– The characters.  They’re not all likable, but Mackler does this thing where they are all understandable!  And then they all transform in really believable and organic ways.  And I love the way she shows that the way they see themselves is not the way that other people see them or that the way other people see them is not the way they see themselves.  But sometimes it is!  For example, there’s this awesome disconnect between how Jena sees herself [chubby, too talkative] and how Skye sees Jena [cute, bubbly, effortlessly friendly].  Just proof that we are our own worst critics.

If I had to pick a favorite, it’d probably be Jena because she says in her narrative, unironically:

I’m obsessed with quotes.  You name the person–Albert Einstein (smart), Toni Morrison (very smart), Nicholas Sparks (pure genius)–and I’ve got one of their sayings.

Nicholas Sparks = pure genius.  Which, if you’re a sixteen-year-old romantic, he would be.  So I thought she rang very true, and I loved her attitude about life.  (She’s the one who has the breakout quote up there about being luscious.)

– The plot.  This is more of a character study, but there is a plot underneath it all.  So if you take the form and the characters together you get this plot about transformation and being true to yourself and being your best self.  It’s pretty subtle, but kind of amazing.

What I Didn’t Like

I didn’t dislike anything!  If anything, I just wish it could’ve been longer and we could’ve spent more time with each character, but I think it does what it needs to do without more than that.  I just enjoyed reading about the characters.

In conclusion:  Immensely readable (I read it in one sitting) and a great character study.  This should have been my light read following the WWII stuff (even though there is some heavy stuff in here) because it was such an easy read.  I really enjoy Mackler because she is rarely, if ever, predictable, and this book is no exception.  I honestly had no idea where the story was going, even with the one thing I did figure out early in the story.

YA Reading Challenge:  7/75

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  1. VeganYANerds

    Just discovered your blog, read your ‘About Me’ and knew I’d enjoy it here because you love realistic YA, too!

    This one book of Carolyn’s that I still need to read and now you’ve made me want to read it even more 🙂


    • Akilah

      I looooove realistic YA! I am making an effort to read more of it this year, especially since fantasy is so prolific now.


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