I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program. The book sounded like an interesting read and I really like fairy-tale retelling types of books…so I was excited to read it. The book is okay; it is fairly engaging and an interesting take on the classic three wishes type of a tale. Special attention is given to clothing/style in this book; so if you are really into that this book might be a good one to pick up.
Olivia has been a shadow of herself since her twin Violet died. It seems like all of Olivia’s friends were actually Violet’s friends and that without Violet, Olivia has faded away. When Olivia’s parents decide to leave their sleepy suburban town and move to San Francisco; Olivia finds that she just doesn’t even have the energy to care. Then Olivia meets a dressmaker who makes her a beautiful dress. When Olivia wishes out-loud while wearing the dress that her sister would be returned, well suddenly Violet is kind of there with her. Just like anything though, with the dresses there are rules. Olivia can only have three dresses (hence wishes) made, along with a few other rules. Will these wishes give Olivia the courage she needs to get interested in her new life?
This book was a fun read, but nothing special. The writing style was readable and the book engaging. Olivia is a realistic and down-to-earth character; but you can see how her personality is dull compared to Violet. The reasons behind the magic and the dressmaker choosing Olivia are kind of glossed over, so the story doesn’t pay much attention to that. Most of the book is spent following Olivia around, looking at how Violet influences Olivia’s decisions, and then watching the decisions as their affects play themselves out. Of course most of this centers around Olivia getting in with the popular crowd at school and with a sexy hunky guy Olivia wants to get with. This is not an action book but is more of your typical teenager struggling through the social trials of high school kind of read.
The book tries to deliver a deeper moral but it flounders in this effort. Violet is trying to teach Olivia the lesson to live life to the fullest; so initially this seems to be the message the author is sending. Then as Violet’s influence goes bad; Olivia turns her back on her sister’s advice and suddenly the message the author is sending is to be yourself; even if you don’t do anything and hate who you are. Okay maybe that’s a bit harsh…Olivia does change some throughout the book but not much. I just thought that the message to the story was inconsistent and that Olivia didn’t grow much as a character.
Bullen does and excellent job describing the characters. We always know what everyone is wearing and how they look. She goes into exquisite detail on the dresses; which I enjoyed. The way Bullen deals with the wishes is kind of blah and typical; but it is okay.
Overall this was an okay read, it was entertaining and engaging. Teens struggling with a sibling loss or fitting in at high school may find it enjoyable. The fantasy aspects of the novel are kind of blah and not all that creative. Also the novel delivers an inconsistent message to the reader. If you are looking for a light summer read, this may fit the bill. I personal didn’t like the book enough to check out anything else by this author; but I am not exactly the demographic (30 year old and female) that this book is targeted at. That being said I do read and enjoy a ton of young adult books; this one just didn’t make me say “Wow!”.