The moment this book won the Printz Award I put a hold on it at the library (yes, this bookseller uses the library…I have to or I’d be broke!). I finally got my copy right before I left for a business trip, and pretty much read the entire thing in one sitting on the plane. Which I suppose means that it was a page turner, but mostly that’s because it is in short sections which just make it easy to get through. Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick, tells the story of Merle and Eric, starting in the future and moving back in time throughout centuries of love, death, and interconnected relationships, until you reach the beginning of their story, a tale from the viking days.
I’ve seen this book compared to Cloud Atlas before, so I’ll just say that when the thought came to my mind I was a bit annoyed at the lack of originality. That’s not to say you can’t take something that’s already been done and make it your own original concept, or make it awesome despite the similarities. I’ve never read Cloud Atlas, but I was not a fan of the movie, I thought it was too heavy handed with the DEEP MESSAGE. While Midwinterblood isn’t heavy handed, it is really weird. It didn’t sit right with me. In some of the stories Merle and Eric are brother and sister, and in some they’re mother/son. I realize there are different kinds of love, but I wasn’t satisfied with how this was dealt with. The concept of the book, and the connecting stories, were intriguing in theory, but the reality fell flat for me. I kept waiting for the Amazing Epiphany and ended up disappointed.
While Midwinterblood is an interesting book, I don’t understand how it won the Printz Award–an award for acclaimed young adult writing–when there wasn’t a single teenage in the entire novel. Maybe that’s a separate issue–what makes a book YA?–but it’s definitely one worth discussing.
Midwinterblood didn’t meet my expectations. The writing was strong and the stories were interesting, but as a whole I feel like it could have been more riveting, and Sedgwick could have had more fun with the concept.