Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Review of Doon

Here's a description of the book from the series' website:

"Despite outward appearances, Veronica Welling’s life is far from perfect. Her boyfriend is more into her competition, her mom treats her like a meal ticket, and the blond stranger who keeps appearing out of nowherewell, he’d be darn near perfect, if he were real. After Vee catches her boyfriend cheating, an epic summer in Scotland with her best friend Mackenna Reid seems like the ultimate escape. Neither girl has any clue they’re about to step into a destiny bigger than they could ever imagine.

Through a series of clues left by Kenna’s aunt, Vee and Kenna open a portal and are transported to a thriving kingdom outside of time and place. For Vee, the land of Doon is the fairytale she’s always longed for, complete with the gorgeous blond strangerwho happens to be a flesh and blood prince. But rather than acting like her knight in shining armor, Jamie MacCrae treats her like a leper. Meanwhile, Jamie’s brother Duncan shows obvious interest in Kenna, but she shuts him down, fearing that a “love connection” will prevent her from returning to the modern world.

But the girls’ presence in Doon could break the enchantment that protects the realm. In order to save Doon, the girls must risk everythinglife, love, and futurebefore the kingdom vanishes forever into the mists.

Doon is inspired by the premise of the musical Brigadoon, used with generous permission from the Alan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation."

My Rating

Fall/Spring

My Review

With such a whimsical, grand, and mysterious cover - not to mention an intriguing blurb - I was eager to get my hands on this one! A recent viewing of Brigadoon and the start to a summer vacation provided good timing to dive into this magical adventure...

The story begins with typical YA drama that didn't quite endear me to Veronica. But the hint of an epic love story (via visions) and the promise of an epic land beyond the bridge made me eager to keep reading. The buildup hooked me, and the exciting twists kept me interested. While I had my issues with some of the characters and the outcomes, I will say this - Doon is engaging!

As for those issues... My favorite characters, by far, were Fergus and Duncan. The sweetest relationship, in my opinion, was the one shared by Fergus and Fiona. Protectiveness, understanding, kindness, thoughtfulness for others - these two definitely provided a contrast to the craziness of the other romances. As much as I loved Duncan - his humor and big heart and swoon-worthy rescues - his match kind of got on my nerves with her self-centeredness, especially since her revelation near the end didn't seem to last. Her insecurities and uncertainties could have made her relatable if she had shown more character growth throughout the story, instead of the flip-flopping at the end.

And Jamie? Well, let's just say this hero did not win me over. I'll admit I remained curious as to how he would react to things and how things would work out for him and his match, but his strong jealousy, his thoughtlessness, and his rudeness/temper were far from romantic. 

The connections to Brigadoon are fun, although I confess I missed some of the tender charm and lightheartedness found in the musical but lacking in this retelling. Doon is definitely a YA story, full of angst and immature romantic tension and more of an emphasis on the magic. Christian fiction fans who also enjoy secular YA books might be more open to this than strict Christian fiction fans, as there is some crudeness and an emphasis on the physical appearance (read: hotness) of the male leads. And while I think the references to Doon's "Protector" are supposed to be references to God, I confess that they didn't quite work for me. It wasn't always clear who they were referring to, and the strong magical elements at the end didn't seem to mesh well with a spiritual theme, at least in my opinion.

While there were some things that really bugged me about the story, I did enjoy the adventure, and it was an easy read. The setup for a second book was a little frustrating for me, but maybe the authors will be able to add to the basic conflict set forth at the end of this book. Fans of the "River of Time" series by Lisa T. Bergren should find some things to love about the "time travel" (of a sort), the romance, and the problems the characters face. And fans of YA retellings with familiar YA elements but a few twists might find this a series to watch.

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Will be available soon! (Release date: August 20, 2013)

10 comments:

Rebeka B. said...

Good review, Amber! You brought up worthy points, and if I ever get my hands on this book to read, I'll be interested in discussing them further. :)

Charity U said...

I want to read this one -- Brigadoon was my favorite movie for a year or two, and still remains in my top 10. :) I know this book is different, but sometime...

Rissi said...

Great review (as always), Amber. You hit the nail on the head about many reservations readers of Christian fiction may have.

So, I totally agree with you about the God/Protector thing. It was too open-ended to satisfy me although if it'd been more certain (i.e., the writing better illustrating the Protector as God), I thought it was a clever way to incorporate His presence in a fantasy novel. That being said, since fantasy is already a stretch, it'd have been nice to see God solidified.

I'll still read book two - just because my curious nature will get the best of me! :)

Ruth A. said...

I can't wait to read this one!

Amber Stokes said...

Rebeka,

Thank you! :) And I'd enjoy that!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Charity,

I like that this book caused me to watch Brigadoon again and fall in love with it. :) Sweet movie! This definitely is different, but generally fun, and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Rissi,

Aww, thank you!

Yes, that did bother me... For a while, I think I was imagining the "Protector" as the original ruler who prayed for their town to be hidden away and saved from the witches, or something like that - so I was bothered by the idea of a person being "worshipped"/prayed to like that. But then there were some references that made it clear that the "Protector" was God...but it didn't quite work for me, especially since there didn't seem to be any real relationships with Him, and the emphasis on magic seemed to counteract their prayers, etc. :\

I am curious about book 2, for sure, especially since I loved Duncan! I just didn't quite like Kenna's lack of growth and understanding, and her too-late revelation. :\ Not quite sure how I feel about a story of her own, since her character hasn't won me over...

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Ruth,

It has a fun premise, doesn't it? :) Hope you enjoy it!

~Amber

Bluerose said...

This is one I was really excited about, but only due to the cover, to be honest. I didn't even know what Brigadoon was, or that this was a retelling. Especially what I've read about the spiritual aspect of this story, I'm thinking I'll probably skip this one now.

Great review, though!! ;)

Amber Stokes said...

Bluerose,

Well, it is a pretty great cover, isn't it?? ;)

If you like musicals, you should totally watch Brigadoon - it's really sweet/charming. :) And the music is pretty catchy, LOL!

Yeah, I'm not sure this is the book for everyone, although I think it has a wide appeal. Glad you enjoyed the review, though, and thanks for stopping by!

~Amber