Spellbook of the Lost and Found is a book set in an Irish small town where, after the night of the bonfire, everyone loses something.
It’s told in three PoVs, and I had the same problem with all of them: too many characters introduced too quickly, none of them memorable, not even the PoV ones. I liked some of them, but they never surprised me, and I will forget about them easily.
I liked that this book was really diverse despite being set in a rural small town. There were both a f/f couple and a m/f couple, but I never cared for either of them.
The three narrators were:
•Olive. She is a chubby bi girl with a deaf ear. She was at the bonfire the night the lost answered, and she was getting drunk with her friend Rose (also bi, and biracial Indian).
•Hazel. Her and her brother Rowan are new in town. Her PoV wasn’t my favorite – the “Dark!Secret I keep mentioning to the reader” is one of my least favorite tropes.
Hazel is a lesbian.
•Laurel. What we read is Laurel’s diary, and the story of her friendship with Ash and Holly. Laurel’s PoV is the most mysterious of all of them. Also the creepiest.
What I liked the least was the writing – while it had its good moments, sometimes I confused the narrators (Lauren’s PoV had a totally different feel, but I did confuse Hazel and Olive sometimes) and it was also really, really pretentious. There are few books that can compete with Looking for Alaska in pretentiousness, and this is one of them.
The characters spend half of their time doing at least one of these things:
•quoting classics and poetry (almost every chapter)
•having deep conversations about love (at least it never really became an amatonormativity party)
•being really angsty
•drinking/smoking (a lot)
•saying things like “you feel like a character from a book” (tone down that fourth wall break)
Yes, teens are angsty and some of them drink and smoke a lot. I know. I’m a teen. You can write about them without being this pretentious. At least it didn’t go in I smoke to die territory, and some of the forced *deep* dialogue was acknowledged to be pretentious in-text.
What this book did right:
•It was eerie and unsettling and sometimes just really creepy. The atmosphere was perfect, and so was the tone. It felt real and not-quite-real at the same time, and that’s a feeling I love.
•It’s a book about losing things and letting them go, about growing up, about coming to terms with your past and your trauma (TW: arson, sexual assault). The message was great.
•It’s also about girls supporting each other. There are many friendships between girls, even if they have their toxic moments, too. Friendships, like romantic relationships, are not flawless or static.
•It was really original. Yes, it was pretentious, but it was never cliché, and I appreciated that.
•The plot was more intricate than I thought. This book surprised me many times, in ways I didn’t expect at all.
My rating: ★★★½