Thursday, October 9, 2014

ARC REVIEW: Puppet - Pauline C. Harris


(Blurb from Goodreads) Penelope lives in a world of advanced technology but many claim society has yet to catch up. Marionettes have advanced in the form of robots; lifelike creations remote controlled to perform super human tasks.

When Penelope makes a deal with Jed, a marionette-obsessed scientist, she doesn’t fully realize what she’s getting herself into. In order for Jed to take her away from the orphanage she lives in, she must first agree to undergo his experiments and tests, ultimately creating something no one ever dreamed possible; the first living marionette.

As Jed shows off his scientific creation to the world, concerns arise surrounding Penelope’s abilities and what she’s capable of doing. Ordered to somehow lessen her abilities, Jed makes a desperate attempt to change Penelope to make her more human, more vulnerable. After Penelope lies to the officials about her past, Jed makes sure it’s the last one she’ll ever utter. The truth is now the only thing she is capable of telling.

As Penelope struggles with her past, her disturbingly new present, and her uncertain future, she is thrust into a magically twisted world of mayhem in search of the one thing she wants, but knows she can never have. The chance to be just a girl again. To be normal. To be real.

Retellings are literary remixes. I have limited experience in them because my basic instinct is to distrust them. Music remixes rarely top the original for me. Film remakes are bigger disasters. As far as literary retellings go, they can be MINDBLOWING (Across a Star-Swept sea – The Scarlet Pimpernel remix), or “hmm, that was nice” (Towering – Rapunzel remix) or FAIL (Puppet – Pinocchio remix apparently)

If this wasn’t being advertised as a Pinocchio retelling, I could like it more. Because this book deserves it, trust me. I even liked the cover (SURPRISE! the book cover nazi approves). I loved Pen’s voice – she sounds like a closet philosopher, wondering about the secrets of marionettes and trying to figure out humans. The book wasn’t crowded with characters, and within very few pages, Harris manages to fledge out the main characters satisfyingly – not just the Boy and the Girl. The pacing, although it started out slow, quickened up and before you know it, you’ve reached The End. However, that might also be due to the plot lacking masala.

Let’s still pretend this book’s got nothing to do with Pinocchio. Thankfully, there isn’t much infodumping happening, but I also couldn’t get how dystopian the Portum is – I couldn’t see much advancement technology-wise other than the marionettes and a government with the Head Devere and administrators. And I kept getting confused with Pen’s brief instances of sheer stupidity.  

That’s where the tagline “Pinocchio retelling” comes in. When Pen lied about her background to the freaking government which is famous for its meddling in everyone’s affairs, I couldn’t believe Pen – my cousin swears she saw me making a face at the book. Then I remembered A Pinocchio Retelling and his lying problem. When he did it, it wasn’t unnecessary or unbelievable; the context here made it a total fail.

Where else did Pinocchio come in picture? Whenever the word “marionette” was mentioned. And Jed is the Portum version of Gepetto.  That’s the end of Pinocchio references.

When I reached The End, I felt conned.  There was no NOSE ENLARGEMENT. There was no Fox or Cat or Fairy or any talk of money, unless they have been disguised under heavy metaphors (in which case I apologize for my under-sight). If you’ve read the original tale of Pinocchio, you have no reason to read this book.

Wow, that sounds cold. But if you ignore the “Pinocchio retelling” tagline, there’s a chance you will like this book.

VERDICT: (It actually pains me to say this) 2 stars

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