Sunday, July 19, 2015

Review: "The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly" by Stephanie Oakes


Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

Author: Stephanie Oakes

Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling/ Contemporary Horror

Publication: June 9, 2015



The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

Auggie's Review

Entertaining/ Pleasant Read
Again, this is another of those books that enticed me with the "fairytale retelling" thing. The Girl Without Hands by Brother's Grimm in a modern day setting... but it wasn't that at all. Again, we've got a few of the basics (A girl with no hands, cut off by her father, and turned to silver for her to keep). And I guess we've, loosely, got the devil involved somehow. Other than that, I'm not seeing the tie in.

I'm wondering if my appreciation of this book would have been different if I hadn't gone in expecting a fairytale retelling.

Not that there weren't parts of this book that were compelling and heartwrenching and gut punching (sorry, couldn't think of another way to say it), there absolutely were. There were moments while reading this that I felt tears and anger and outrage for our main character... but the general story was told in such random pieces that I found I had a bit of a hard time keeping track of what was going on, how old she was in which flashback, and separating what had already happened with what had not.

Basically this was one of those reads that left me feeling a bit hollow. There's no happiness here, there's no hopeful message or moral. The message is more like "For some people, life really sucks, and no one is going to understand that... so you're on your own... but hey! At least there's probably no God, so you're safe there."

I had zero expectation of this book being a happy one. So, no, I wasn't expecting a happy ending... but I was expecting a message. Something other than our judicial system is jacked and people are screwed up.

I did enjoy the moments when Minnow was overcoming, when her world was broadening up and she was finding some answers for all of her infinite questions. Even though she traded one prison for another, she was still discovering. I think many readers will see themselves in Minnow, the searching and the coming undone from oppressive beliefs.

At any rate, I wanted there to be some kind of message in this work and I couldn't piece together exactly what it was. I closed the book feeling a bit angry and empty for Minnow... and as much as there was talk about "hope" I didn't feel like there really was too much of that by the end of the work.

It was more that I felt like I'd just watched a dad pin a $20 bill to his 7 year old's shirt, then load him on a train to some unknown destination with a pat on the head and a "Good luck, kid".

Not a garbage book. The parts that were clear were well written and emotion wrenching and finding out exactly what happened to the Prophet was like releasing a held breath. You just have to kind of wade through and piece things together as you go. Not a smooth telling.

Auggie is the 28 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk. A Teen Librarian and bibliobibuli by nature as well as a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. One can normally find Auggie neck deep in reading, writing, or daydreaming (sometimes all three at once).  She's also been known to drink too much caffeine and eat too many lemon flavored sweets.

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