Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rapunzel Untangled - Cindy C. Bennett

Rapunzel Untangled Cindy C Bennett book cover
Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett
Publisher: Sweetwater Books
Expected Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks Cedar Fort!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions expressed in my review.]

Rapunzel is not your average teenager. For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is 15 feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is. (from Goodreads)

Rapunzel Untangled is an interesting contemporary take on the classic fairytale. Though it’s not as charming or whimsical or fun as Tangled (see note below) is, it was still very creative. Personally, I felt like it was a touch more sinister, and definitely a lot more serious. There’s an interesting (if complex) combination of contemporary, mystery and magic in this one, but it fell short of my expectations.

The book follows a similar premise to the fairytale – Rapunzel is locked up/kept in a tower room, her hair is never cut and she cannot leave ever. But that’s where the similarities end and the new twists begin. She’s supposedly meant to save the world from utter destruction, she’s got a disease that will cause her to die if she leaves and she’s got access to the internet and other such wonderful things. Oh, and her mother doesn’t have to go through the window and climb up using her hair.

It’s been a bit difficult for me to gather my thoughts on this story, so I’m going to change up my reviewing style and just separate this review into the things that I did like and the things I took issue with for this book.

What I Did Like 

I like the incorporation of the Internet. It threw me off a bit at first that Rapunzel would have access to the Internet and not find out a bunch of things about herself and her house. But then again, having known nothing but her mother and her mother’s rules all her life, and having been content with her existence, it kind of makes sense. Stumbling on Facebook changes everything for her, and though I’m not particularly fond of virtually meeting new friends or suitors, I thought it made sense to do this for this story.

There’s a Thanksgiving celebration that I really enjoyed. I’m not going to spoil this (much) but I will say that I think it’s sweet, and wonderful, and charming. It made me nostalgic for my own experiences at holiday get-togethers, and I love that it was included in the story.

The creepier elements added in were definitely creepy. I’m weird sometimes, and liked being scared – and certain parts of this book did that for me. I would feel a prickling at the back of my neck while I read, and there were times when I turned the pages faster to get away from certain settings/memories/scenes.

The story still reads like a fairytale. There’s still a villain (Rapunzel’s mother), a prince (Fane) and a series of adventures and misadventures that occur until we reach the happy ending. In hindsight, I’ve come to the conclusion that the author’s definitely written a modern-day fairytale (which might be able to counter some of the things I’ve listed that I had issues with below).

What I Didn’t Really Like

I was not a fan of the romance. Although I knew it was bound to happen based on the book summary, I wasn’t very happy about the insta-love with Fane. Fane was, obviously, the first guy she’d ever met in person, and the fact that she immediately starts to like him bothers me a bit. Plus, it was a little too much how quickly their relationship progressed. I didn’t completely hate them being together, but I wasn’t particularly enamored either.

The story combined a whole lot of things – mystery, magic and contemporary – into one big story. While the combination of elements is not horrible, it felt like a little too much was going on. Plus, sometimes, the explanations were entirely too convenient and just predictable. I can understand what the author might have been aiming for, but I think it fell short of what I was expecting from this one.

The characters fell flat. I didn’t particularly like Rapunzel or find her memorable. She kind of got lost in the pages for me. There were certain times that I thought she was clever and brave, but for the most part, she just seemed confusing to me. The same goes for Fane – I could sort of understand what Rapunzel might have seen in him, but he felt very cardboard cutout to me.

While I did have my issues with Rapunzel Untangled, it’s not a half-bad story. There’s definitely room for improvement in terms of the mix of elements in the story, as well as in the development of these characters. I personally didn’t enjoy this one as much as I expected to, but I’m sure that there’s the right kind of audience for this book out there somewhere.

Note: If you haven't seen the Disney movie Tangled, you should definitely watch it. It's got heart, it's got humor, and it spins the tale of Rapunzel in a way that is both familiar and fresh. I love that it was basically a throwback to the classic Disney Princess movies, but still managed to feel modern enough for this time.

6 comments:

  1. I loved the movie Tangled! I don't think I've actually read a book based on Rapunzel before, but this one sounds quite interesting. Sorry to hear it didn't completely impress though...

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  2. I love Tangled, but based on your review I don't think this book is my style.

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  3. Aw, sad to hear you didn't like it more! I actually just read this too and my review it going up tomorrow! I totally see your points though; I read this after working 76 hours in a week so all I wanted was a fun, light, read with some romance and that's exactly what I got so I had minimal complaints but a few.

    LOVE your Must Read 2013. Ender's Game, Jane Eyre, The Giver, and The Knife of Never Letting Go are amazing and some of my favs! Lord of the Flies though...not a fan. Hope you like it more than mre.

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  4. I totally agree with you. I did NOT like the romance and the thing that bothered me even more was that she's meeting strangers on the internet. Eek. Anyway - It was a nice twist on the classic story, but I just really wasn't a fan. It was just okay for me.
    Great review!!!

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  5. Funny, there is another Rapunzel story coming out in 2013 - "My Name is Rapunzel". I wonder how the two will compare. I hadn't heard of this one but now I am interested. Although I am not a fan of insta-love either. Nice review, thanks!

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  6. I'm intrigued by this book, I have to admit. I think the problem with fairy tale retellings is that in the tradition of the story, instalove is a big part of it. I think that's why it can be so hard to develop characters around that.

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