Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: "Doon" by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Veronica doesn't think she's going crazy. But why can't anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes?

When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months. But the Scottish countryside holds other plans. Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna's great aunt---and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation.

Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica's daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they've longed for... or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

I really like the musical Brigadoon.  I've loved it ever since I saw my sister perform in it back in . . . well, a long time ago. I watched it last night for nostalgia purposes, however, and unfortunately realized it wasn't as good as I remembered from my childhood. What ever is, though? Childhood is just a magical time of life.

But anyway, I still love the idea of a kingdom taken up in the mist as the result of a prayed for miracle. I love that the villains were a coven of witches.  Just being able to pass into another world and see a simpler, purer, possibly happier way of life, long forgotten, always seems to enchant me a bit. I mean, aren't we all longing for a Brigadoon? At least that's what the message of the musical was. That and if you love someone enough, anything is possible. Even if you've only known them for a day.  (This is usually where I roll my eyes and groan internally, even though I knew I was going to marry my own husband after only a day.  Ha! Love can be funny like that.  But I will say that I had the advantage of knowing his family very well, and at least knowing of him for seven years prior. So, it wasn't a brainless, fairytale-induced decision.)

Anyway, illogical timing and sappy love story aside, this book, which is a rough re-telling of the musical was fun.  I liked how Corp and Langdon gave the story a bit more depth by whisking our two heroines into the world of Doon two weeks prior to the day the city was supposed to open up (unlike the musical, in this book the kingdom of Doon lives on in a parallel dimension, but on their own time table, and only opens up to Earth's realm every 100 hundred years--20 years in Doon time.

I also liked how Corp and Langdon explained the instant love connection away by coming up with something more palatable called "The Calling." Every 100 years, right before the bridge to Doon opens up to Earth's realm, people who are destined to find their true love in Doon begin receiving visions of that person calling to them, and vise-versa. (Even though it's through dreams, this at least gives them the chance to get to know each other.  That way, when they meet for the first time, they're acquainted--on a much more personal basis--for at least a bit longer. I thought it was a nice logical touch via magic. 

On the down side, this book and it's main characters didn't have a lot of depth for me, which is fine, because it really isn't that kind of a story.  It was just a light, fluffy, sometimes too angst-ridden, fairy tale, and it turned out to be a fun ride.

As mentioned above, there are two parallel love stories playing out.  I have to say I was more into Kenna and Duncan's love story than Vee and Jamie's.  It was funnier and seemed more authentic. But, then, I've never been a huge fan of brooding, Heathcliff-types (Jamie) and dragging out the teen-angst. However, I liked the ending of Vee and Jamie's story better than where Kenna and Duncan left off.

Speaking of endings, I think Corp and Langdon pulled off a clever ending to this story--I didn't see one particular twist coming, which fit perfect. There was some nice cyclical stuff going on too, and I didn't feel like there were any major loose ends left to tie up, so that was satisfying.  They also left a nice cliff hanger, and while I wasn't mad about Doon when I finished, I liked it enough that I'm pretty sure I'll take a chance on the next book in the series.

It was a fun book.

Parental Caution: I didn't label this review "Great Reads for Teens" for the following reasons: there wasn't a ton of depth to the story, I didn't feel like the main characters were particularly emulation worthy, there were a few inappropriate references to anatomy, and a less than "sweet" love story. But I'm really careful about wholeheartedly recommending a book, and in the grand scheme of YA literature, Doon was pretty clean. So, allow your teen to read at your own discretion, read it together, or just read it first.

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