Based on a traditional, little known gender-reversed version of 'Beauty and the Beast.'Ogre Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine
This one is hard to judge because I am so attached to Ella Enchanted that I kept constantly comparing it and trying to figure out who Evie was in relation to Ella. Which may be slightly unfair, but then again, there's no way GCL didn'tthink that's what we were all going to do! We grew up with Ella! We love her! (And if anyone dares mention the movie, I will gut you faster than an ogre.)
We DO get some more backstory on Ella's fam, but, without spoiling anything, I can definitely say that Evie is not any of the people I theorized she was going to be. So I have to give credit where credit is due-- the decoy hints,definitely intentional on Levine's part-- worked! That gave the reading some bits of excitement and tension that I really liked.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were some low moments where I couldn't stop myself from making a face at how fast this girl (with, usually, a backbone of steel) falls in love. Thankfully, it's not all quite what it seemsagain, but that didn't make having to plod through those parts any more enjoyable. I think it's important to keep in mind that this is a naive 14-year-old girl (which honestly is very hard to reconcile with her very grownup skills anddemeanor) who doesn't even really understands what a crush feels like and can't conceive of what makes two people want to get married. She's just clueless, looking at every guy (I had an exciting moment where I thought she'd get with alady, but nope) wondering if this is her 'it'. I guess it's honest but still super cringeworthy. I'm guessing kids will like this aspect more than adults. It may get kids' attention and help open their eyes to what healthy romance isand is not.
As far as the overall story goes... It meandered. Nothing too exciting yet at the same time, I did inhale most of it in one go. That's really a testament to the writing quality. The setting was as delightful as Ella's. The thing I'mreally disappointed about was that the clues dropped about the age-old ogre/dragon rivalry didn't amount to anything! There is some seriously cool lore there (I won't spoil the tiny bit that we DO get), and it would have been amazingfor that to have been woven into the plot more. I thought Evie was going to have a hand in uncovering/fixing something there, and that would have elevated the story from love-oriented. It would have given Evie a REASON to have been anogre and she could have done some good with it. I do not get why that storyline was dropped suddenly in the middle of the book.
Overall: Fun, enjoyable, though I was left craving more depth and nuance. Definitely best only for tweens.
PS- thank you GCL for making her sleep under a bridge just once, I couldn't stop laughing
PPS- do NOT google 'meat stick'
Okay Evie and Eleanor should have gotten married, I don't make the rules.
Aside from the fact that my sapphic ship didn't sail though, this book was a lot of fun! It wasn't as amazing as Ella Enchanted, but I enjoyed myself, and it made me sooo nostalgic.
***Pre-review, April 25, 2018***
A prequel to Ella Enchanted? That book practically WAS my childhood. I don't even know how many times I read it! So obviously I need this in my life.
Evie has a one-track mind: healing. She lives to heal people, to diagnose, to create remedies. When a friend shocks her with a proposal, though they are very young and she has never thought of him (or anyone!) romantically, sheimmediately refuses, to the disgust of the Fairy Lucinda. Cursed to be an ogre until someone proposes to her, Evie embarks on a series of adventures, trying to find a cure or come to terms with her new nature- because who would proposeto a beast?
I loved how Evie was just unapologetically herself: practical, serious, and more concerned with the health of those around her than her own condition, though there were many painful reminders of her ugly, smelly state that even someonewho isn't vain couldn't ignore. I love, as I always have, the richness of Levine's world, and the realistic way that not all kings are wise, not all bad guys get punished, and friendships can form in some very unlikely places!
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