Publishing Info: March 22, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 8, 2016
Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone is lying.
When a book is blurbed as a novel that has a Raven Cycle feel, that’s certainly a lot to live up to. I was definitely interested in WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT with its possible unreliable narrator and great atmosphere and the Raven Cycle comparison both sealed the deal to read it and also made me extra wary of what I might find between the pages. I tried not to set myself up for any expectations and while I think I did a good job of that, I found that WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT still fell short of what I had hoped.
Let’s start with the good things: WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT has an amazing atmosphere. It’s one of those books that really sucks you in from the start and as a reader, you get totally entangled in the world and the characters. I was listening to the audiobook (thanks, Listening Library & Penguin Random House Audio!) and I even finished the audio in a single day. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before with a full-length novel and not a novella. Granted, this was a shorter audio too but still — I found myself really curious about where the book was going and since the blurb essentially told me there was an unreliable narrator, which character that was exactly. The setting really sweeps you away and I spend most of the book unsure if it was supposed to be little bit of a mystery or if there was a touch of magical realism throughout.
Aside from my insatiable curiosity, there wasn’t really too much else keeping me connected to this book. I’ve heard that April Genevieve Tucholke’s books are either not for you or they are. I’m all for an interesting and unique writing style but I just don’t think I jived with the technique and styles in WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT. There was that sense — especially with Wink and the way she went through life — that the book was leading up to something magical or paranormal and really, it was just Wink’s personality and nothing magical ever happened. My issue wasn’t that it was absent but that I was led to believe there was something else going on when there wasn’t. Once I found out that there was nothing magical driving any part of the plot or characters, I became even more frustrated with Wink and how fanciful she was about her family and her daily life. She lived as if she was a part of the fairy tales she grew up reading and I just really wanted her to get a grip on reality. I know that’s an issue that I have with characters though and I really tend to struggle with people who are just off in a dreamland.
I also had a hard time with how the book unfolded. The first half of the book had a lot of character development and set-up which is great but then smack in the middle of the book, a turning point happens. The feel changed from a character-driven book to a plot-driven book with this one event and it really threw me off. I really had to adjust to how I was interpreting the book and how the characters were involved with one another. When the resolution to everything finally rolled around, I was also a bit disappointed with each character and where they ended up. I think I had an issue with everyone seeming so selfish and I really had a hard time with the characters. Although I was incredibly interested and curious, I felt like the book never really took me anywhere. Or rather, it was less conventional and rather than following a twist, the book seemed to take me down a totally different path and ending up in a spot I didn’t even see as an option. I felt like I was being led to plot point A, waiting for a twist to lead me to plot point X, Y, or Z, and ending up at plot point Blue. They just weren’t quite in the same realm. While that’s interesting, I felt like I was constantly trying to find a purpose for the story and fit it into something and I just couldn’t.
I can see why the comparison was made to The Raven Cycle but really in so many ways, this book was not that. Thankfully I wasn’t really expecting it to be so my disappointment doesn’t really stem from that but this is one of the many reasons why I hate general book comparisons! WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT didn’t really work for me stylistically but I can easily see why the people who loved it did! I think readers will either like this one or be really disappointed by it but it’s all to do with what styles of writing you enjoy. For me, this one was a bit too much.
I received this audiobook from Listening Library for review (thank you!) and despite my hesitance about the book, I really couldn’t stop listening! It was also helpful that the audio was so short because it made me want to keep going until I had finished the whole book! The narrators were Michael Crouch, Alicyn Packard and Caitlin Davies, none of which I had ever listened to before and I really enjoyed each narrator’s voice for their selected character. I actually think I liked Poppy’s voice the most because there was so much extra inflection for her character to really bring her personality to life. The narrators actually kept me hooked to the story which was great! I wonder if I had read this in print if I would have been as involved.
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Wink // Character Obsessions: Fairy tales, family, stories.
I just didn’t like Wink at any point in the book. She was just strange and I felt like her character totally had her head in the clouds. It was annoying and frustrating, especially since it drove a large part of the book and seemed to mess with other people for no reason other than her own delusions.
Poppy // Character Obsessions: Herself, popularity, control.
Poppy was a real Amy Dunne, huh? Except I was actually hoping for less redemption and more insanity. She was almost the character I rooted for the most, somehow? I actually was hoping things would be more insane since I didn’t like the other two characters. Might as well get messy!
Midnight // Character Obsessions: Poppy, Wink.
Midnight felt like such a shallow character. He was easily manipulated by Poppy, then swayed by Wink, and he never really knew who he was, often playing off of how his brother would react and not really thinking for himself. It was really frustrating and I had a really hard time with him.
Kept Me Hooked On: Unconventional stories. This book was definitely out of the ordinary which is great! I always love seeing boundaries expanded. It just didn’t work for me.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Considering this really wasn’t magical realism or paranormal, I just needed a bit more reality to ground the book.
Get a second opinion
Usually I would say pass but I know some people LOVED this book. It really depends on what reading styles you enjoy! If this sounds like your kind of book, you may end up loving it. If you’re wary, it may not be the book for you.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)