Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One Shot World Tour: Canada

It's a new season and time for another One Shot World Tour. Last time we journeyed to Australia, and today we're headed to Canada. Colleen Mondor, organizer extraordinaire, hosts the roundup at Chasing Ray. Head on over to see what others are reading from Canada.

The One Shot World Tour coincides nicely with reviewing a book I'd planned on discussing anyway--The Unwritten Girl, by Canadian author James Bow.

The Unwritten Girl, published in 2006 by Dundurn Press, is the first in a series of Middle Grade novels starring a young teen girl named Rosemary Watson. Rosemary eschews fiction for non-fiction as she finds death and danger in novels too traumatic to bear.* In fact, the novel opens with Rosemary reading a science fiction novel: Just as events reach a terrifying climax, Rosemary hurls the book across the room and into the wall of her bedroom.

Life ticks along semi-calmly for Rosemary until her brother Theo begins acting strangely. He's non-responsive and won't let go of the book in his hand. Rosemary and her parents panic, because Theo's been sick before, suffering a mental breakdown and requiring treatment. Soon, however, Rosemary learns that Theo's new illness is not mental this time: It's literary. And, in order to save her brother, Rosemary must confront those characters she's abandoned in her reading past by traveling to the Land of Fiction and taking part in a series of tasks.

Accompanying Rosemary on her quest is new friend Peter, who must play the role of loyal friend and protector--a task assigned not by the author, but by the Land of Fiction itself. Rosemary and Peter also receive help from literary guide Puck. Rosemary, Peter, and Puck confront avenging knights, Oz-like magicians, and a sea of ink on their way to save Theo from a wicked character who wants to punish Rosemary for her fickle ways.

The Unwritten Girl is meta-fiction at its best and perfect for fans of fantasy and science fiction who will recognize many of the character types and conflicts in the novel. James Bow's prose is clear and uncomplicated, allowing the meta-narrative and the story to take center stage. The Unwritten Girl is highly recommended for readers ages 9-14 and is the first in a series of books featuring Rosemary and Peter. Based on this first volume, I will certainly read more.
You know, I don't think I've ever used the word "eschew" in a review. But after this post yesterday at Paper Cuts (a NYT blog), I just had to fit it in to a review. (I am certainly guilty of overusing "compelling" and, on occasion, "lyrical.")