Today we have a guest post from my very good friend, Elisa. I let her borrow this audiobook for her road trip and she was nice enough to write us a review. Just as a note, we talked about the "cheesiness" of the audio, and she recommended that I read the book instead of listen, to see if that made a difference in the feel. I did, and I loved it. I think the way the reader sounds makes a really big difference in the way that the main character comes off, and I would definitely recommend reading over listening, if this would bother you.
Reading level: Young Adult
Publisher: Oasis Audio; Unabridged edition (February 1, 2011)
Buy the Book: Audio, Paperback
What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world? Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeologist parents. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.
Waterfall: A Novel (February 2011) is the beginning book of The River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren. Despite being worried that I dozed off at some amazing point of the story which would clue me in on why this YA novel is even named Waterfall, I am happy to report that I didn’t sleep through the rest of it.
Waterfall begins with a seventeen-year old girl, Gabi, facing typical summer time boredom. Yet where she is bored is anything but typical for an American girl; Gabi is in the countryside of Northern Italy where her mom is working at the archaeological dig site of her dreams. But Gabi, her sister right on her heels, quickly overcome their boredom after weirdly being transported into a different era finding themselves in among bloody battles and castles.
The story that ensues is actually pretty good. The plot revolves around the sisters reuniting and trying to get back to the twenty-first century. Yet what makes the story worthwhile is Gabi’s involvement with the people she is staying with, the relationships she forms, and the part she plays in the political war. Basically, the story is the glamor of a warrior chick duking it out against all odds in medieval Italy with a perfect and handsome Lord-knight at her side. This makes up for any cheesiness that showed up in the story.
And it was somewhat cheesy. I almost quit the book after the first few chapters because Gabi was just getting on my nerves, but I had nothing else to listen to on a long road trip. Which I am glad about, as I soon got over the sappiness and actually really enjoyed the story. I guess sometimes we just have to allow ourselves to fall into this type of passionate story (which we would all die to be part of).
But, before you write off Waterfall as a soap-opera, I again note that I listened to this book rather than read it. I had the feeling that if I just read the book, it would dramatically reduce the sappiness. Andye is experimenting between book and audio and I think we have concluded that it is the inflections in the audio version which makes Waterfall seem like the Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty, not really the book itself.
One thing that does make this book great is that it has good content. It rates with only mild sexual content, it has no profanity, moderate violence (good vs. evil war scenes), and Gabi actually tries to avoid alcohol because she doesn’t want her judgement impaired, even though that is what she is served in medieval Italy. I was pretty impressed that the author was able to deal with tough issues (like death, rape, torture, threats, and sexual innuendos) while being very appropriate and using phrasing that still helped the reader see the seriousness of a situation without it being too advanced or negative.
There are also some pretty good questions that come up in the book- it is okay to steal a guy from another girl? Is there a God? Gabi is sometimes rebellious and irresponsible. More than once I was like “Don’t do that! Come on!” But she is still a good example and her imperfections make her likable, she is someone teens can relate to. I loved that she was challenged to help others, and put other people above herself.
On the otherhand, the guy she falls for is so perfect its just wrong to taunt readers that way. So, yes, I think its a clean read. But I will warn you to not fall in love with Gabi’s guy while reading it. And be warned of the nasty cliffhanger at the end. If this book was not a series and the next book didn’t just come out, I would be mad!
I got an email from Elisa, she's reading Cascade (River of Time #2), it said this:
"Okay, so either this book is sooo much better than WATERFALL, or all the cheesiness disappeared with Mrs. Audio Book Reader. I love it so far."