Saturday 22 December 2018

Book Review - Glass Town Wars

Title: Glass Town Wars
Author: Celia Rees
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
Release Date: 1 Nov. 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1782692225

All these Glass Town intrigues. No matter how long you'd been absent, how far you'd travelled, once you were back, it was as though you'd never been away.
Tom and Augusta are from different places and different times, but they meet in the virtual world to combine forces in battle, to save a kingdom, escape a web of deceit and to find love. In a place where fictions can be truths and truths fictions, learning who to trust is more than friendship, it is about about survival.
Glass Town Wars, inspired by the early writings of the Bront√ęs, is a captivating, magical novel by the renowned Celia Rees.

My Review
I was offered a copy of this book to review from the publisher and was so excited to accept. I had read some of Celia Rees' books as a teenager and although I don't remember much about them now, I do remember that my friends all read 'Pirates' when we were at school and we loved it. So I had high hopes for a new book by this author. I gratefully accepted and looked forward to getting stuck in.
May contain some spoilers ****
I started this book about 6 weeks ago, I don't have as much time to read as I used to so it is taking me longer to read books, but I also struggled to get really invested in this one.
When I first started the book I was intrigued, Tom is in a coma after and illness or an accident - I'm not really sure, he has a host of people visiting him, including his girlfriend, a mate named Milo and a nice young girl named Lucy who sits and reads to him not knowing whether Tom can even hear her.
Then one day Milo sneaks something onto Tom and it transports him into a Virtual World, thrown in at the deep end, Tom must learn to survive. Whilst there he meets Augusta who I think is a princess of some sort, and together they fight battles, meet magical creatures and a host of other adventures.
This book had a really promising start, I was a little bit confused as to what was going on at first but I slowly started to get into the world. I liked Tom as a character, he is a bit shy but not afraid to get stuck in and seems polite and thoughtful. The Virtual world seemed like a really interesting place and I was looking forward to seeing what Rees would do with it next. 
There are quite a lot of characters and I must admit I don't really know who all of them were or what they did. I ended up having a couple of weeks when I didn't read much and I when I came back to it, I was totally confused as to who most of the people were. It took me a bit of effort flicking back through some pages to place who was who and even then I was a bit puzzled with some but I kept reading in the hope it would become clear.
When I did get back into it, I was quite quickly back into the world and reading quite fast. This book to me is a bit of a puzzle though, parts of it I really enjoyed and other bits I either found a bit slow or just a bit annoying. I wanted to get back to the main story but there seemed to be a lot of side plots going on. 
There was something about a forced marriage that took me a while to get into, especially as it was clear Augusta loved Tom at this point, but the next thing I knew they were flying away in a Helicopter (that didn't even exist in the time the 'game' was set - but is then explained as a development from the game player) Then they were fighting Zombies and running away somewhere, I got really confused as to what on earth was happening.
All the while you are split between the Virtual world and the Real world. This book had some truly amazing ideas and some really well written chapters and some great imagery and adventures but at the same time it had some really confusing bits.
I still can't decide if I actually enjoyed it or not, it just left me confused. Maybe if I read it again in one go, or with less of a delay in the middle it might make more sense, but I don't think I liked it enough to want to read it again.
It just left me feeling like I wanted more, or if not more - something different, something more direct - follow the parallel story lines but keep them parallel - don't let the Virtual one zoom off in a million different directions. 
Overall I think it is a book that could be enjoyed and has some great ideas but to me felt a little bit muddled.
I realize that it is also apparently based on some childhood stories written by the Bronte's but the inclusion of 'Emily' in the book didn't really add anything for me. In fact it was just another name I had to work out. 
This is a book that will certainly take you on a ride of emotions, but to me - left me mainly confused.

My Rating