THE LAND OF STORIES BY CHRIS COLFER : BOOK REVIEW

March 10, 2013

"What the world fails to realize, a villain is just a victim whose story hasn't been told."
Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change. When the twins' grandmother gives them a fairy-tale book, they have no idea they're about to enter a land beyond all imagining : the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real. But the stories they know so well haven't ended in this magical land -Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother! The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way?

I love fairytales and I love Chris Colfer. I know this will sound cheesy, but when I heard that he's writing a book, evenmore about fairytales in his own term, I was really excited about the book, knowing that he's one talented actor and hoping that his twisted creativity and thought would somehow be channeled to his writing. And indeed, Land of Stories : The Wishing Spell is proven to be one solid debut from Colfer. It's intriguing and a genuine page turner.

Alex and Connor Bailey are two opposite twins with the same interest : fairytales -though Connor is too mushy to say it out loud. While still grieving for their father's recent death caused by a horrible car accident, the twins find out that their life will never be the same without their father. But one thing keeps them going (and ignoring the fact that their mom is too busy on job to take care of them now) and believing that happily ever after does exist : fairytale, and their loving grandma who visits them in their twelfth birthday, giving them the family-heirloom, the "Land of Stories" book, containing all the fairytales the twins ever heard from their grandma and father while growing up. Everything was OK at first, until the book starts humming and glowing. Curiosity kills; the twins then discovered that it's a portal to somewhere else and short story short, accidentally fall into it. They then discover that everything so-called fairytales are exist (that they are sucked into the book, in contrary), but everything is changing now. There's so much more behind the stories they've heard. In order to get home, they must collect all 8 items to fulfill the "Wishing Spell", a spell that will grant everything, literally everything. But what they don't know, the Evil Queen is following their trails in order to achieve the same thing, for what they don't know. So, will the twins complete their journey successfully?

“Fairy-tale ‘adaptations’ are usually stripped of every moral and lesson the stories were originally intended to teach, and replaced with singing and dancing forest animals.” that I agree. Every child growing with fairytales are those who end up with high hopes, but still stick on the value and reality. I'm quite pityful with children nowadays, that they have to watch the sick twisted murders Hansel and Gretel perform and Snow White that tries to earn some paybacks. I know that there's no boundaries when it comes to creativity, but it's hurtful enough to scratch Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen's effort to teach the goods and the bads of life through the classic tales they told. But, salute to Chris Colfer, who successfully brings juicy twists and turns of fairytales, offering little tidbits and creative backstories that still sticks to the value of the originals. He's unexpectedly good at characters and world building, creating one big chain of events and relations that work very well and amuse everyone. 

Yes, the plot is too slow, but it's still excusable. But, what really bothers me is that the big journeys presented are way too predictable (I got all my guesses right, though I still need some pages to strengthen my guesses). The way Colfer delivers the one journey in one chapter (get in to the land, find the way to get in to the room where the stuff located, take possession of the stuff, getting caught or not, flee from the crime scene, then jump to another chapter) is disturbing. And of course, it makes the plot way too predictable and boring, no itty bitty thrills whatsoever (and those folks are being too kind to the twins). Not to mention how smoothly every journey passes. Colfer's writing is amateurish, I know, but I enjoy his narrative, disorganized or not. It's enjoyable, I swear.

Following Baileys' journey is addicting; it's a kid-like journey, but it's favorable, even the grown ups can enjoy (afterall, who doesn't enjoy fairy tales?). The beginning feels quite like Narnia-ish, but Colfer smartly acknowledges it by making Connor says “Alice went to Wonderland after she fell into a rabbit hole. Dorothy’s whole house was scooped up by a tornado that dropped her off in Oz. The Narnia kids traveled through an old wardrobe. . . and we ended up in the fairy-​tale world by falling through a book.” Have I mentioned the triangle (super intriguing) love between the trashy spoiled Red Riding Hood, mysterious effortless Jack (the Beanstalk fame, yes) and the stronghead female heroine, Goldilocks? It's a very strong aspect in this book that I like the most. I also love how Colfer makes the twins' differences to work well on each other; I'm loving how they bound to each other perfectly. What I don't like is that Colfer only makes the Evil Queen as a backstage individual, not taking any evil steps besides ordering The Huntsman and The Big Bad Wolf Pack to take a step ahead her. But, I love how Colfer presents the fragile side of the Queen (and her past, OMG!), not just the stereotype. 

Bottom line, this book is an enjoyable and light read that expands your fantasies, presented in such gorgeous cover and illustrations on every chapters. Land of Stories is a definitely must-read; a gorgeous page turner. Bravo, Chris!


Title : Land of Stories : The Wishing Spell
Author : Chris Colfer
Series : -
First Published : July 2012
Publisher : Little Brown
Pages : 438
Cover : paperback
Chapters : 24 + epilogue
Genre : fantasy, fiction, adventure, fairytale
Extras : none
Price : $11.99 (IDR 130k)
Rate : 7/10
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