Saturday, August 14, 2010

Book Review: Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

15 year old Green didn’t go into the city that day with her family, but instead saw from the ridge how the city was destroyed. As conditions worsen around her, Green covers herself in black ink and thorns to protect herself from a desperate populace, and as a way to mourn all that she has lost.


In a starred review back when this was released in 2003, Publisher’s Weekly described this as a “post-apocalyptic fairy tale leavened with hope.” I mention this because this does read far more like a fairy tale than a typical dystopian, and that has a lot to do with Hoffman’s use of language. Here’s how it starts:

"I once believed that life was a gift. I thought whatever I wanted I would someday possess. Is this greed, or only youth? Is it hope or stupidity? As far as I was concerned the future was a book I could write to suit myself, chapter after chapter of good fortune. All was right with the world, and my place in it was assured, or so I thought then. I had no idea that all stories unfold like white flowers, petal by petal, each in its own time and season, dependant on circumstance and fate." p. 5-6

Reading through the reviews on GoodReads, I noticed a lot of people either loved Hoffman’s language or thought it was over-the-top, citing especially a passage near the beginning where Green describes her sister as someone so enchanting that, “Bees would drink the sweat from her skin and never once sting.” p 7. That is a bit much, isn’t it? But Hoffman mostly tones it down after that, and tells a haunting story of a girl trying to come to terms with a whole new, more dangerous world and trying to find her place in it.

A lot of the plot is deliberately vague, and in fact, you don’t find out the cause of the destruction of the city until the sequel GREEN WITCH, which just came out this year. That does make you feel a bit ripped off, especially since book 1 is only 116 pages and book 2 is only 144 pages.

And although Green is developed, the other characters, including a mute boy Green’s age she calls Diamond, are as fleshed out as mist. But again, this is probably a deliberate choice on Hoffman’s part, to underline the fairytale atmosphere of the narrative.

My rating? It was weird, but I liked it. It adds something different to the genre, so I am going to give it 3 Zombie Chickens – Well worth reading.


Series order
 
GREEN ANGEL (available in paperback)
GREEN WITCH (available in hardcover)
 
Find out more about the series on the author's website.
 
 
 
See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

22 comments:

Lori said...

I really enjoyed Green Angel! I loved the beauty of the world. I need to read Green Witch! Great review!

Mardel said...

With straight up fairy tales, I enjoy the over the top comparisons and phrases - as long as I can read the story through them. Not every one can writes these, but I enjoy when Alice Hoffman does it, or Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley - although McKinley seems to be a little less lyrical with the writing. She writes very good fairy tales though.

I reviewed Green Angel last year. I didn't realize that there was a sequel coming out. Love to read it, but I'll have to wait for paperback unless I get it for the school library.....a good idea.

Amanda said...

The only books by Alice Hoffman I've ever read was Practical Magic, and that was over a decade ago.

Sharyla said...

Wow. I like the language that you quoted, even the more over the top one. I think I'll be looking for this book soon. Great review!

Chris said...

So weird that you reviewed this one today because I almost picked this one up off of the shelf last night to read on a whim! After reading your review, I think I may read it today! I've yet to read any Hoffman. And I think I may just like her over the top language :D

Emily said...

Hmmm...the story sounds like it might not be my thing, but I have to say that the cover art is gorgeous!

bermudaonion said...

I think Hoffman's language takes a little getting used to - at least it does for me. I can see why you might feel a little ripped off with these - why not combine the two books?

Sandy Nawrot said...

I do so love those covers. It does sound a little weird, and I don't understand breaking up the story with two books, but I think I'd read them anyway.

Krista/Tower of Books said...

Thanks for the review! I've been curious about this book for a while.

Nymeth said...

I liked this book a lot too, probably even more than you did by the sound of it. I can see why not everyone would love the language, but it worked for me - and she really does something quite unique with the genre.

Ladytink_534 said...

I've only read a few of Hoffman's books but I keep swearing I'll read more. She writes so beautifully! I might have to move this one up...

Stephanie said...

I usually love Alice Hoffman, her unique, lyrical fairy tale style really appeals to me. Sometimes it does get to be a bit much, though, and I actively disliked several of her books.

Dahlia said...

Nice review. My library has this, so I might give it a try.

Danielle said...

Your review has been plagiarised!

http://abooksblog.com/2010/08/14/book-review-green-angel-by-alice-hoffman/

Lily Child said...

Great review! This book has been sitting on my shelf for some time. I'll definitely have to pick it up in the near future. I also plan to get a copy of Green Witch when it comes out in paperback! :)

Mardel said...

Danielle - at the bottom of that review, it says "from Presenting Lenore". I guess they pull reviews by bloggers and repost. I wonder though, if they check with the original poster. They do give Lenore credit, but at the bottom. It's weird.

Lenore said...

Danielle and Mardel - I definitely did not give my permission!

Colleen said...

I really liked this book also, but had a hard time articulating why. And I didn't know there was a second book!

christina said...

I'm actually thinking about teaching this book this year! :)

Zibilee said...

I have read other stuff by Alice Hoffman and haven't been that crazy about it, though I do admit that this one sounds good. She does seem to have a little flair for purple prose at times, but it's not something that detracts too heavily from the writing.

Michelle said...

Uh-oh, only three zombie chickens isn't so fabulous. I'm thinking that I might push this down on my TBR pile.

Danmark said...

Alice Hoffman is one of the most creative and inspirational authors of our generation. This novel shows the true destructive nature of regret. Slowly she begins to heal her heart, mending and masking her own agony.
She lost everything to hate, and gains everything back with love. This is my favorite book and is great for any reader, we all wittness and feel pain so why not expand your mind and heart with the tale of a broken girl finding her way back home.