book review · Uncategorized

The Incredible Adventures of Symbol Girl

Since I’m away, this is a scheduled post. I read the Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl a few days ago andquite enjoyed it.

-Shanti

Summary from Goodreads:Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.This book was brilliant. It featured excellent character building and a pitch-perfect setting, and a plot that worked so well with them both
Alba lives in a small town.. She and her friends have finished school, and are hanging around waiting for something to happen, trying to decide what to do with their lives. She is especially worried as her best friend, Grady, wants to go to law school in Melbourne, potentially leaving her behind. When her best friend from years ago, Daniel, turns up, and the apocalypse is predicted, everything is complicated, and Alba, like her character Cinnamon Girl, needs to make some decisions and accept some Changes.
Lets talk about character developement, oui?
Alba is wonderfully developed throughout the book. Her conflict- between small town and big town is perfectly layered. We can totally understand why she acts the way she does. Her choices are very complicated, and she just wants things to stay as they are As the book goes on , it becomes evident that (view spoiler) Her fathers death has made her afraid of things changing. As everything in ‘Eden Valley’, her idea of a perfect place changes- hippies, her relationship to Grady, etc- she becomes aware of this. Seeing her realization is almost tangible, its a process that can easily be believed. Alba is a really likeable character, and I though that she was done wonderfully.
I love it when side characters are also developed. Though it took me a while to work out all the names little details, like Eddies blushing, Carolines bluster, Tia’s chatter, Daniels insecurites- reveal details about themselves that make them much more identifiable with. I also loved the dynamic the group has as a whole, as shown by the Christmas Dinner Breakfast and watching as home in the gum trees. All of the characters have flaws and plus points, and that makes the book so much richer.
The setting, a small town on the verge of the ‘apocalypse’ was really well done. Alba’s mum runs a bakery, and little details, like apple strudel and the wafting scent of cinnamon fill the book. I love the little pieces that construct Eden Valley, like Mrs Garabaldi, and the general store, and farms and campgrounds. This author writes excellent settings without ever feeling like she’s infodumping. I could tell you a whole lot of things about Alba’s room- that she has stacks of comics everywhere, underwear on the floor, and a cupboard full of dresses, a green couch for Grady to sleep on- yet this information never feels like its intruding on the story
Oh, yes, the story

This book does fall into contemporaries classic trap of relying too heavily on character and not quite enough on story. The plot devices tend to be fairly obvious, and it leans on cliches, like the small town cliche, a bit too much. The characters are really well written, but the story has a fair bit of teenage angst and moaning, which can get tedious. The story is literally Alba and co. wandering around town on what they percieve  as urgent missions. Plus, there’s a dead  father. Typical
The story ambles along. This book isn’t fast pace, and the plot unfolds like a origami flower, gently and obviously. After the basic premise is established, Alba pretty much runs around with her friends, getting increasingly panicked about the future and her role in it. Daniels return makes her realise that she’s sort of been hiding from the future and the past, and all the fluster surrounding all sorts of visitors. Alba’s choice making process was very realistic, and all the other vibrant characters made this book way more colourful. I also love the way that Cinnamon Girl was a metaphor for Alba. It worked fairly well.
In short : if you like contemporaries, well written characters or fun reads, without a dense plot and some cliches, read this one.

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One thought on “The Incredible Adventures of Symbol Girl

  1. For some reason I just didn’t like this book. It seemed too predictable and cliched. The apocalypse idea was really good but I didn’t feel like it was really developed. While it was enjoyable, the characters didn’t feel very round or rich and the language was not particularly stellar. The secondary characters and setting was nice though. I feel quite guilty about this but I think I’d give it 2/5.
    -Shar

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