May 7, 2013

Towering - Alex Flinn

Towering by Alex Flinn
Series: Kendra Chronicles #3
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Source/Format: Borrowed from Jamie || ARC
(Note: This may be a series, but it isn't necessary to read the books in order. You'll be fine to read this one without having read the others first.)

Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her. 

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.

Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now. (from Goodreads)

The story of Rapunzel is one of my favorites from my childhood, but I'm well aware of the challenge it presents for authors who want to put a modern-day spin on it. There are far too many fantastical elements (the rapunzel lettuce, the hair that grows to amazing lengths and the tower hidden away in the woods) to try to incorporate. In Towering, I can applaud Alex Flinn for her successful effort to retell the story of Rapunzel, as she manages to weave together both contemporary and magical elements into a story that's addictive and still manages to make sense of it all.

Rachel is the Rapunzel character of this story, obviously. She's smart, as she's given access to books (!) by her mother, but she's also very naive and innocent since she's never recalled being able to venture out into the world. As with most fairytale princesses, she's beautiful and she's talented, with a singing voice that's beautiful and haunting. What I liked best about her was her beautiful reaction to the real world once she gets to step out into it - she's genuine in her joy and her amazement. It kind of reminded me of a little kid discovering that they can walk.

Wyatt, on the other hand, is obviously the love interest. He's the one who finds Rachel, and he becomes a part of her life almost instantly. What I like most about him is that he's got a past, and what a dramatic past that is. It adds a bit of color to his character, and I think it's interesting to see how the past has affected him in many ways. I also appreciated his willingness to find a way to protect and be with Rapunzel no matter what, as well as his kindness to the old lady he stays with.

I wasn't a big fan of the insta-love, even though I know that's usually part and parcel of any fairytale. That was the one element of this book that just made me want to grit my teeth and yell. But I suffered through it because the story was just too compelling for me to put down.

It's fairly obvious that I only had lukewarm feelings towards these characters, so it is without a doubt the story that made me fall in love with this book. I love how Flinn was able to take the elements of the original fairytale and incorporate them in this story in a way that felt believable. Her idea for how to weave it all together was so clever, and I found myself in awe of how it all concluded.

The one thing I'd recommend to people who want to check out Towering is that they need to be able to suspend their belief while they read it. Even though it's written in a modern-day setting and with modern touches, it's very much still a fairytale, so there's a sense of the fantastic and unbelievable in it. If you're able to do that, it's highly likely that you'll be able to enjoy it as much as I did. Towering is one of the superior Rapunzel retellings I've read, and I can gladly recommend it to fellow fairytale fans and people looking for a good fairytale retelling.


  1. I agree with what you're saying about this one! I wrote my review and I was surprised looking back and how much I didn't like this book. It was weird because while reading I was totally intrigued and captured by the story! I agree with you though, those reviews that were saying how far fetched things were because they were taking place in the "real world" were just silly. It's a fiction novel, AND a fairy tale retelling. C'mon people!

  2. I've got a copy of this, but really thought I would have to read the rest of the series. Very glad to know that I don't! I'm interested to see how my reaction compares to yours. Rapunzel is one of my fave fairy tales, but I can see how it would be hard to incorporate in modern times!

  3. I think all of Alex Flinn's fairy tale retellings have that sense of unrealistic-ness, but they're still lots of fun. Nice review! New GFC follower.

  4. I've read her previous books so I understand what you're saying about suspending belief to make it easier to read.

  5. Ooh, yay! It sounds like my kind of book! I love the Rapunzel fairytale as well and am very ready to suspend my belief! :)

  6. I'm so excited to read this one. The cover is magnificent. Thanks for the review. I'm reading Rapunzel Untangled right now and it is a great Rapunzel retelling.

  7. I love Alex Flynn. While Beastly got me into her writing, I'm most in love with Bewitching. It's her more realistic one. One of the narrators is Kendra, the witch, so her narrative is a little out there, but story line is very realistic and modern, and it's based off Cinderella, except in this case it's one of the "evil" stepsisters telling the story, and it's Cinderella who's the mean one. It's a lot heavier in some cases, but I love it because it's not insta-love at ALL! I can't wait to read Towering :D Thanks for the awesome review!

  8. Oh no, instalove! Like you said, it is standard in any fairytale, but that’s one area where it’s pretty necessary for the author to improve on it. Shame Flinn wasn’t able to do it here. I’ve been really curious about this author’s retellings, though, since they take place in the modern day, which is a bit rarer to find.

  9. This book looks so interesting!I havent been into all the fairytales lately but this one is somehow catching my eye! :)

  10. Yea, I was kind of blah about this after I read it. I really wanted to like it more, but couldn't. I agree w/you, I couldn't feel the love, but I did like Wyatt's past story. That was pretty intense. Yea, I think I was expecting more of a seamless weaving of contemp w/magic, which I didn't get from this book. Great review!

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  11. Aaah I really want to read this one because Rapunzel is my favoritestest she's so so awesome with her hair and stuff ya know! *twirls dreamily*

    It sounds like Alex has done a good job of it. The suspending disbelief should not be a problem seeing as I will always think of this story as a fairy tale no matter how modern it tries to be so I think I'd really like this book! Plus I enjoyed Beastly that I read of him like 15 years ago lol

  12. This sounds wonderful and I adore the cover. I don't think I've ever read a Rapunzel re-telling but I would defo be willing to put reality on hold to enjoy this :)

  13. I don't know why I didn't realize this was a Rapunzel story... I mean, she's right there on the cover with her long blonde hair! I just put this in my giveaway pile but I might need to go take it back out...

  14. Yeah, there was serious insta-love in Towering. I don't HATE insta-love, especially when, after the characters are all into each other, we get to see how they make a good couple. I didn't really feel that with Towering. Plus, I felt like some things could have used some more explanation. But I did still enjoy it. I definitely prefer Beastly, though.

  15. I have yet to pick up a book by this author, but I've been meaning to. I love fairy tale retellings (I did see the Beastly movie) and fairy tales in general. And I think it's good to be aware that this is, in fact, still a fairy tale, because I would be a little put off by the insta love. Then again, that is obviously a big part of fairy tales. Hmmm. I'm definitely intrigued! Lovely review!


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