Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
By Katherine Marsh
Expected publication October 9, 2012 by Hyperion

Is one's fate written in the stars? Or do we have control over our own destinies? Jepp longs to know the truth. He has left his home of Astraveld with a promise of a better life at the royal court, only to find himself humiliated and captive as one of the court dwarfs. Unable to believe that this is the fate meant for him, Jepp will risk everything in search of a greater destiny.

I read Katherine Marsh's first book while I was working as a bookseller and had sort of mixed feelings about it. I thought the concept was interesting, but I didn't feel like it fully succeeded. I knew she had written a sequel to that title but, as I found the idea of a sequel unnecessary, I never picked it up. This, her newest novel, came to my attention a few months ago, when I spotted it on a blog I read as a title to keep an eye out for. When I spotted this title on NetGalley in August, I eagerly requested it and was happy to be approved. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and I thought Marsh chose a very interesting story to tell - that of a court dwarf in the late 16th-century. I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this one, too, having now completed it. While I think the story is executed beautifully, featuring fascinating characters and great atmospheric details, I have a hard time figuring out the audience for this book. It's marketed as a young adult title, but nothing about it really feels like a young adult novel. I sort of feel about this one the way I felt about Wildwood, and, more recently, Summer and Bird - the characters may be the age of your target audience but the book doesn't necessarily feel like a book for that age group. Yes, Jepp is a young adult through this novel, but he doesn't talk or act like one. Granted, part of this lies in the fact that this is historical fiction and young adults would be quite different in the 16th-century than they are nowadays. But, I think this book could just as easily have been marketed to adults and found an audience there. That being said, I don't think this is a negative for the book. I wonder how many teens will pick it up - do many young adults read historical fiction? Those who pick it up won't be disappointed - as I said, this book is brimming with good stuff and reads like an exciting fairy tale. I just hope this book finds its way into those readers' hands.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy provided via NetGalley.

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