Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
There was a time of the Three Realms: The Realm of Flesh; moment of trauma re-experienced; living. The Realm of Spirit; spirits exist freely, pure and holy; and Half World; where the troubled work through their mortal suffering; half lives
What happened to me as I read?
At first glance I was intrigued by the book cover; the colors alive and image mysterious. Into the prologue I was swept with awe and inquiry about what this book will present to me; I love stories of creation and the mysteries of other worldviews. The immediate action after the prologue was suspensful. I was feeling panicky for this pregnant woman fleeing from danger. The descriptions and pace are so vivid, I found myself telling her to hurry. Then there's the contract, the contract of life, is the hook that intrigues me to read on. Again in the form of fleeing, in chapter one, I found myself engrossed in this young girl's experiences- with bullying, befriending other life forms-like the crows, her family status-living in a single parent household, disconnection from mom- her feelings of aloneness. I felt so much throughout this entire book, I did not put it down, I couldn't; I was too curious. I became most interested when the characters all had something to share with Melanie, the main character in this story. I knew then that the storyline was going to take another adventurous turn and based on what I had read thus far I was going to continue.
What features of the book caused my responses?
One of the first features that I particularily liked about this book was image and setting of the book cover; I see one person in a mirror like image and she appears to be floating and connecting to herself somehow. I wonder what is happening here, basically first glance and the presentation of the illustrations is something that connected me to this book almost instantly. Another feature is the coming of age genre of this book; here is a female character, who is a teenager dealing with the realities of life yet in the end finds peace and change within herself and within her environment. I appreciate books where the female is the heroine. The fact that I like to read fiction is another feature that helped me select this book. I like to lose myself in the journies of fantasy fiction stories, the idea of exploring and imagining another world is intriguing for me. Because the storyline is believable to me, I did some research on the origin of the author and found that there are realms that exist within their beliefs that are built into the story.
The fact that I like hard cover books was another feature that connected me to this book. The size of the book makes a hardcover easier to handle. I think that reluctant readers might find the minimal illustrations inside the book a bonus as well as a little break to further reflect on the book. The illustrator for the jacket cover did a superb job; the colours, images and actions are definately eye catching and spark curiousity about the book. I love the pace of the book, it steadily keeps you wondering, imagining and reflecting the next outcome.
I have always enjoyed reading this type of book; I like the fictious characters and descriptive settings of places. The author did a great job connecting these elements. I was able to easily imagine and fall into the settings perhaps because I connected with Melanie almost immediately. The descriptions within both worlds were familiar. In her real-form; living in the realm of the flesh, Melanie was alone, she did not fit in anywhere. However in the half world she seemed to move around more comfortably, I wondered if it was because all the described characters were so odd? The characters were all interested in thier forms in the half world, but I found that I was easily annoyed with Mr. Glueskin. His character was so childlike, greedy, ignorant, he was not a nice person. He reminds me of many people I come across who crave power.
Responses caused by reader's history as a reader.
Responses caused by text alone.
The storyline flowed very well for me, although it did take me a few more pages to realize that the character was the baby. I really liked how the author used the realities of today's busy life within the book; like the cab's in a hurry, the traffic so rushed, the style used complimented the modern world piece of it. The character's were all so interesting, even Mrs. Wei, she is so sweet and like Melanie's guardian of that life. The symbols used throughout the story were just random objects that we can relate to in our world; the magic 8 ball, that was such a great symbol to throw in I can see students stopping at that point and saying 'hey I have one of those.' There are so many topics and symbols that can be connected within this book and within other cultures as well.
Jade Rat Amulet
What does this book ask of readers?
I did not notice any words or slang used in the text that seemed unfamiliar to me, as a reader. The subject was typical of fantasy fiction novels; the hero travelled to another world to save other worlds that were stuck. The book might ask us to consider other cultural beliefs and spiritual significances. I really enjoyed the last part of the book where Melanie was ready to cross and realized that her parents weren't going with her; shows the reader the sacrificies parents make for their children.