Review: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Sarah by Trevor Rabin [Labyrinth soundtrack].

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Chime by Franny Billingsley
Published: March 17, 2011
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 368
Current Amazon Rank: #58,833

Author's Website: Franny Billingsley
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

I've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged. Now, if you please.

My Take:

Chime is one of those special sort of books. The kind that gets under your skin and has a good burrow for a while. And if you stop to think about it long after you've read it, that feeling will bubble to the surface and with it a sort of longing to experience it again.

Now understand me, this can be one of those polarizing books. You will likely love it or hate it. I fall firmly in the love category. The language is beautiful but the repetition and use of words in how Briony experiences her world can be either off-putting or immersive. Her self-convinced behavior that she is evil and wicked, firmly setting her up as an unreliable narrator can have some readers throwing their arms up in the air in frustration or curious to find out the real reason for her self-hatred. I feel that frustration with some reads, but for me, I loved this one.

Briony is a twin (love) and has strong reasons to believe she is a witch. After all, bad things happen whenever she lets her emotions get the best of her. That's what happened to her sister, Rose. And her stepmother. But everything is turned upside down when a young man with a lion's smile and a delightful laugh comes to Swampsea. I quickly felt very little was what it appeared to be. It is not a mystery, but it is mysterious. And the atmosphere sucks you in. I also loved the secrets had to do with Briony herself and not coming from the advent of the "mysterious stranger." No, he is just the catalyst that sets events in motion. :)

This was a wonderful read with a wholly unique setting. I can list on my fingers how many stories I've read that take place in a swamp. I loved it. I really enjoyed the fact that Briony is not a perfect little heroine. She has many faults, but to me they only served to make her realistic, complex, and three-dimensional. For example, I loved that fact that she wants to learn how to box. Eldric is a fantastic love interest and such a refreshing change from the brooding types filling so many YA stories today (not to mention narry a love triangle in sight). Unique and absorbing, this was a treasure to read all around.

The Final Word:

An alternate history/fantasy with a fantastic heroine, this is a special read. I recommend this one easily and frequently. If you pick this up, you are in for a treat.


clairedelune said...

I found this book so interesting. There were times I hated it because it was uncomfortable to read about a character who had so much self-hate, but then it got so good near the end! I also really loved that she was able to start learning how to love herself at the end. This book was really unique, which I loved.

Heather Zundel said...

Yes! That is exactly how I felt! Especially about loving herself at the end. It made the final pages so poignant because of that. I loved her little speech to Eldric there.

Charlotte said...

I started this, and got about sixty pages into it, and then put it was making me unhappy. But I am firmly resoved to try again someday when I am Stronger!