Review: Swamplandia!

Swamplandia!Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are two coming of age stories in this book, and it's unfortunate that it's the less interesting, less original one that is the focus of the blurbs and advertising campaign. Yes, little Ava goes on a harrowing and ugly adventure in hopes of finding her mentally ill sister who has run off to marry a ghost. She goes through through swamps and monsters on her quest. Interesting, but so lacking in detail and consequences (except a big one that made me more angry for lazy writing than what it did to the character) that it reads more like a bad fairy tail than a good tale. But then, there's the second coming of age story, Ava's brother Kiwi who goes on his own rescue effort, the kind that has far more chances to go in the wrong direction, one where he has to make actual choices and doesn't always make the 100% correct one. Out of the swamp and into a murkier world of contemporary living, Kiwi lives up to his quest is a slightly more believable way than his younger sister. Not only did Kiwi make the big (and totally precious) save in the end, he saved this book from being a waste of time.

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