Towering: Alex Flinn

Is it that hard to write a modern day Rapunzel retelling?

Yes and no.  I sort of have an idea for one, but I’m not going to write in anytime soon because it currently has five thousand plot holes and probably would be too dark to be mainstream, but whatever. Those who have actually attempted to write one have succeeded somewhat (grant it, I only read two of these retellings and only one has actually sort of succeeded).  Towering  is not that book.

And yes, we’re deviating from my regular review format so you know what that means…

If you like this book, you probably want to run and duck  for cover since I have nothing remotely positive to say about it except good idea.  But unlike Cindy C. Bennet’s book, Rapunzel: Untangled, you don’t see the love for the subject matter here.  It just seems written because Harper Teen saw that Tangled  was a success and told Flinn to write a Rapunzel story.

I think to properly discuss the flaws of the story, we need to talk about the actual fairytale first.  It’s not really that adaptable.  Well, sort of.  It is and it isn’t.  There are a lot of things that a writer is going to have to contend with, with Rapunzel: Rapunzel’s stupidity, Mother’s control, the prince, the whole teen pregnancy thing (oh yeah, Rapunzel had twins in the original version), and the whole magic tears and hair that grows at an unusual rate.  Do you see why I have like fifty plot holes with my WIP that will probably never be in existence?

Yeah, so I gave this one some leeway and it took it to its own advantage by relying on one of the biggest cliches in the YA world today: insta love.

I have my own theories about insta love.  I generally its used as a crutch that has evolved into a trope.  I can sort of understand when it’s used as a crutch because I think at one point every writer has used it.  See the tons of shitty soul bond fan fics (i.e. insta love) on fanfiction.net

But Flinn doesn’t get the excuse of a newbie, she’s published tons of books.  Especially fairytale retellings.  You’d think the person who wrote Beastly-which actually had a love story with development-that she wouldn’t rely on insta love but no….

Look, I get the original fairytale sort of was insta love.  But this is a retelling.  Even Disney didn’t rely on insta love on this one.  In fact, Tangled was one of the few Disney princess movies that didn’t use this trope.  So WTF!?!?!?!?!

Maybe insta love was used because the characters didn’t meet each other until almost a hundred pages ( a third) of the book.  And their meetings were just sort of annoying?  Seriously, the MC cuts herself after meeting her one true love because she’s afraid he’ll never see her again.

Yes, I know people do a lot of stupid things for love, but this really annoyed me.

Yep, essentially Flinn relies  on insta love to direct her characters actions.  And it doesn’t work.  Not at all.  It didn’t help that that whole section of the book that occurred before the characters met, was unnecessary.  Seriously.  The kids that Josh hangs out with at New Year’s you barely see them again after that.  Merely filler.

I also didn’t get a lot of the characters motivations in this one.  Like why did Wyatt’s mother send him with Rachel’s grandmother? The grandmother was known as a creepy old lady in town, suspected of knocking off her daughter, and has been known to obsess over William Shattner’s Priceline Commercials (okay, Star Trek, but still).  That should’ve been warning bells right there to Wyatt’s mom.  And oh yeah, her kid probably needed to be in therapy too-you know, for witnessing his best friend and quasi girlfriend get their brains blown out by their over the top abusive stepfather.

 
Then there’s Wyatt himself.  Oh, God.  I know his sob story was supposed to make me feel bad for him but I still wanted to punch him in the face.   Dude, you knew your friend was getting the shit beaten out of him and you just sat there.  You didn’t talk to anyone about it.  Not one damn person. And then we’re told how it’s not your fault because you weren’t the crazy SOB with a gun.  Well, it wasn’t technically your fault, but you knew for months.  You knew your friend and his sister were getting the shit beaten out of him and…and I’m suppose to root for this character just like I’m supposed to root for crazy grandma who false imprisons her granddaughter for seventeen years.  But that’s okay, it was all because of some stupid prophecy I still haven’t made any sense of that somehow involved oompa loompas (and no I’m not drunk/drank too many grape sodas again, there are oompa loompas in this book).
Yeah the world building…. I still can’t make any sense of it.  Any sense at all.  There really wasn’t much done, honestly.  An info dump at the end.  Some weird climax that I’m just perplexed by.  And honestly from what I saw, maybe with a little work it could’ve been great.  It seemed like it was somewhat interesting, but it didn’t make any sense.
At all.
Plus it really was a cheap trick.  Just so our villain wouldn’t be our villain.  But it didn’t work.  Who falsely imprisons their grandkid for seventeen years?
Seriously, if you were that worried for her safety you would’ve moved halfway across the world not lock her up in a tower.
Stupid.
Stupid.
Stupid.
Dumb.
Dumb.
Dumb.
I can breathe normally again. Sigh.
I think what’s really upsetting about this one is that this is Alex Flinn’s speciality.  She had a movie (albeit shitty one) made off of one of these retellings.  And this is just shit.  Pure old shit.  I honestly had to wonder if she really wrote this then I remembered A Kiss in Time and it sort of made sense.  This book shared many of the same problems that Sleeping Beauty of hers has.  While A Kiss in Time doesn’t rely so much on insta love, the relationship is just as superficial as it is here.  We had a dumb as rocks boy and a shallow girl.  Although, I guess I’ll give Rachel points for liking to read.  Grant it, she only reads classics.  And I have nothing against classics, but when I was a teenager with the exception of a couple of books, most of my classic reading was for school. But nope, that’s all Rachel reads.  Oh, and yeah her dumb as a box of rocks boyfriend thinks that Little Women  and the Little House books are only meant for girls.
You see, why I hate this guy now?
But to get back to the point, this book is just generic like the Sleeping Beauty retelling that Flinn did.  Not only did I see the same character flaws, the plot was about as non-existant as that book.  And the minor characters served very little purpose other than being there.
Could this book have been better?  Obviously.  But writing a Rapunzel retelling is hard.  While Bennet suffered from not deviating from the source material enough, Flinn suffers from deviating form it too much.  If you really want to read a Rapunzel retelling I recommend Bennet’s book, mainly because I felt the spirit of the fairytale was still there.  This book seemed more less an attempt cash in on Tangled and that’s just a shame.
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