Judged by Mireille • Find her on Goodreads
Well, this was much easier last year. I just had to guess which book Jess would prefer, and pick the other one. This year, my notes about both books are super positive. This won’t be difficult at all!
Izzy, Willy-Nilly is an important book. Its depiction of a teenage girl coming to terms with being disabled for the rest of her life is realistic, touching, and the event is shown as heart-breaking but not life-destroying either. It also touches on important issues of racism/classism, without being in your face about it. Of course, all the ~issues~ wouldn’t matter if this was a bad book, but it’s well-written, and it gets you to feel for the main character, even in her darkest moments.
My favorite thing in this book was Rosamunde becoming Izzy’s friend almost despite Izzy. I liked how she didn’t tiptoe around Izzy but instead helped her in a very real way that Izzy’s other “friends” didn’t. (I also liked that her previous friends ended up being bitches – I mean, it was nuanced, but still bitches – because that felt true to life, or at least life as a popular teenager.)
I was also a fan of Tony, and I kind of want a second book with Tony/Izzy. And Jack/Rosamunde. Jack being super into Rosamunde despite himself was pretty great.
I like that not everything tied up neatly, that Marco is still a jerk who runs free, that nobody tries to pretend it will all be fine from there. I liked that it was hopeful but let itself be dark too. I liked the blast from the past when they considered if they should buy a VCR, haha.
In general, my first book is a book that feels very “real”, which is pretty much exactly the opposite of my second book.
Greenglass House is not an important book. It is, however, extremely entertaining. I’m not big on mysteries, and at first I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a book where every single thing, from the setting, to the random assortment of characters, to the world itself, was very mysterious. But it ended up building such an atmosphere of infinite possibilities that it made for a very enjoyable experience. Particularly since everything seemed so cozy, in this wonderful huge house, in winter, with this nice and caring family. You constantly felt unsure what was real and what wasn’t, who could be trusted, and yet, it didn’t feel stressful.
I’m a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons, so I ADORED all the Odd Trails stuff. (I’m always playing a thief/blackjack kind of girl, too!) So that was all truly awesome, and I loved how it allowed Milo to stretch himself in order to be more like Negret. I liked finding clues all over the house, and it very much felt like cousins inventing stories for themselves over a long holiday, but with added real stakes.
The thing that happened with Meddie was amazing. After it happened, I wanted to go back and reread every single scene with her (but I couldn’t – damn ebooks!). It felt really well-crafted, because you knew something was off with her, but something was off with everyone. Actually, the whole book was well-crafted, with hints and everyone’s stories coming together. It was guessable if you wanted to, but enjoyable even if you didn’t.
The inn’s guests were all awesome. I didn’t think I’d like the whole guests-telling-stories thing, but it ended up really bringing a lot to the book, and it wasn’t too long. I feel like there’s an entire “adult” book to write about the adults, particularly about Clem and Georgie and Owen. Really stunning worldbuilding there. (As I understand it, this book is part of a loosely-connected series? I’ll have to get my hands on that.)
Now. How do I pick a winner when I have nothing but praise for both of them? Do I pick the book I read lying on the couch in the sun’s glow, with no other task to do because I really had to finish this book today? Do I pick the important book or the extremely entertaining one?
In the end, entertainment won out. (Hopefully that doesn’t make me too terrible a person.) Greenglass House was such a grasping book – when I got past the two-thirds point, I didn’t want to let the book out of my sight. And the atmosphere was so wonderful, it engulfs you, just, Christmas and all these people and that family. But I really do recommend both books!