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I Belong

Review: Illyria by Elizabeth Hand


AuthorElizabeth Hand

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 13, 2010

Format: Hardcover, 135 Pages

ISBN 10: 0670012122 (Penguin Teens)

ISBN 13: 978-0670012121 (Penguin Teens)

Reviewed by: Bridget


Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins, best friends, twinned souls, each other’s first love. Even within their large, disorderly family—all descendants of a famous actress—their intensity and passion for theater sets them apart. It makes them a little dangerous. When they are cast in their school’s production of Twelfth Night, they are forced to face their separate talents and futures, and their future together.

This stunning short novel, winner of the World Fantasy Award, is the perfect introduction to Elizabeth Hand’s singular voice. Her many novels offer a window into what it means to create art, to experience it, to feel passionately about the world. Illyria throws her talent into high relief—it is magic on paper.

Quick & Dirty: This was not a book for me.

Opening Sentence: Rogan and I were cousins; our fathers were identical twins.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Madeleine and Rogan have been best friends their whole lives. They were born on the same day and their dads were twin brothers. They grew up across the street from each other and eventually their friendship turned into love. They both have a love for theater that stems from a great grandmother who was a famous actress. When they are both cast in the school production of Twelfth Night something magical takes place that may forever change their future and their relationship. Will society keep them apart or will their love be strong enough to keep them together?

Maddy is a very insecure girl that has spent most of her life living in the shadows of others. She is the youngest in a family of six girls and there’s really nothing extraordinary about her, until she discovers acting. She knows that she’s not as glamorous as her great grandmother but maybe she can learn to be someday. I wouldn’t say I disliked Maddy, I just didn’t really feel a huge connection with her and she seemed to be a very forgettable character. She was ordinary, which is actually what I think the author was going for, but that also made her kind of boring.

Rogan seemed like he almost had a split personality. When he was with Maddy he was sweet and charming but when they were with other people he came across as more of a cocky jerk. He knew he was talented but it seemed like he was ok with squandering his talents instead of using them. I actually had a hard time seeing what Maddy liked about him so much because I didn’t think he was all that great of a guy. Sure he was good looking and had a magical voice but that doesn’t make up for all his problems and I thought Maddy deserved better.

I want to start off by saying that after reading the description of this story, I was really hesitant to start it because it really didn’t sound like something I would enjoy but it was a short little book that needed to be reviewed so I picked it up. Unfortunately, I was correct on it not being my kind of book. First off, the fact that this was a modern day love story between cousins was just gross to me. I mean their dads are identical twin brothers which made it even worse, and it wasn’t just a sweet innocent relationship, it was sexual as well. Even if I could have looked past that, I still wouldn’t have really liked this book. While reading it I kept waiting for something to happen that would make me understand why this story was written and it never did. The storyline was really weird and after I finished it I kept thinking what was I suppose to get out of that, because I either missed the whole point or there wasn’t one. I realize that the author was covering a sensitive and taboo subject but if that was what she was going for, I wish she would have focused on that more. Instead of focusing on how their circumstances affected them and their relationships with others she pretty much just focused on their romance. Also, the tone of this book felt like it was geared more towards adults, which I didn’t like since it is suppose to be a YA book. This was obviously not meant for me but if you think it sounds interesting go ahead and give it a try. It’s not very long so you can get it read quickly and hopefully you have a better experience with it than I did.

Notable Scene:

I recall almost nothing else of my performance, though I remembered all my lines, all my entrances.  People applauded when I walked offstage. They laughed at the right places. I took my pratfalls during my duel with Sir Andrew and praised the countess so that the very babbling gossip of the air cried out “Olivia.”

But it was like being stone-cold drunk in a darkened room. Only when Rogan was on did the stage seem to shake and blaze, as though lightning struck it: his flaming hair, his white costume irradiated by the followspots, his bare feet kicking up a shinning haze of dust and rouge and face powder that followed him like a bright shadow. When he first opened his mouth and sang I heard a gasp go through the audience, as though everyone had at  the same instant touched a burning wire.

FTC Advisory: Viking/Penguin provided me with a copy of Illyria.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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