This is the first book in the Theatre Illuminata series by Lisa Mantchev. It is the first book of three; the second book “Perchance to Dream” is supposed to be out in Fall of 2010. I liked this book pretty well, it is a very creative premise. Although I thought the main character Bertie was a bit immature.
This tells the story of Bertie. Bertie lives in The Theatre; her bedroom is a scene and she is constantly going through scene changes. Her friends are the Players of the plays that the Theatre runs and are bound to the Theatre and the plays that they continuously perform. Someone wants Bertie kicked out of The Theatre and Bertie is desperate to stay, it is the only home she has ever known. For as long as she can remember she has never been outside The Theatre. On one side she has the mysterious and breath-taking Ariel pushing her to leave and on the other side the dashing pirate Nate, who is quite the gentleman and is willing to help Bertie come up with a plan to stay. Flitting through it all are Cobweb, Moth, Mustard Seed, and Peaseblossom the fairies who constantly accompany Bertie providing advice, most of it not so helpful. Will Bertie ever find a way to stay in the Theatre? Will she ever figure out her past before she was left to The Theatre’s care?
I really wanted to love this story. When I started it I was a bit disappointed. The first couple chapters basically deal with Bertie dying her hair blue and getting in trouble for it…it was not the depth I had been hoping for. I actually put it down for a while and then picked it up when I had a large block of time to read more and get further into the story. As the story went on though it got a lot better. The idea of people being bound to a Theater and only existing in the realm of their characters’ personalities was incredibly interesting. I will admit it was a bit tough to keep a picture in my mind of exactly what was happening, with all the scene changes and stuff at the beginning, as the book went on through I got the hang of it and had an easier time with visualizing what was going on. The way everything in the book is set up like a play was also cute and clever and added some to the creativity of the book.
Mantchev’s writing style is pretty straight-forward and easy to read. At times I wondered why this book was young adult. The characters are fairly child-like and the plot is easy reading. Which brings me to the biggest thing I didn’t like about this book, and that was Bertie. I thought she was very juvenile for her age and very ditsy. I also thought she wasn’t really all that likable. Lucky for her the supporting cast made up for her lack. The fairies always provided humorous banter in the background, which managed to never really get annoying and actually added to the story. Nate was written as a wonderful handsome, sincere, and dashing pirate. He was a great character. Ariel was also a wonderful character with his alluring magic and his bouts of temper. Nate and Ariel are the ones who really carried this book.
The book was a very easy read and a humorous read at parts. I enjoyed the concept. If Mantchev had made Bertie and bit less, well stupid, and a bit more mature this book could have been a 5 star-er. For me though Bertie’s lack of characterization and the simplistic writing style brought this book down from something wonderful for me. I still liked it a lot and am eager to read the next book. I am curious to see what Bertie will do next. This book was fairly well-wrapped up but enough loose ends were left that I am going to have trouble waiting for the next book!