Round 1, Match 3: Greenglass House vs. Izzy, Willy Nilly

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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!


Congratulations to Greenglass House, which moves on to Round 2!

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21 thoughts on “Round 1, Match 3: Greenglass House vs. Izzy, Willy Nilly

  1. Entertainment always wins! 😀

    I soooo want a Jack/Rosamunde book. I asked Beth after I finished Izzy if there were any more books about these characters because it feels like there is SO much more to tell. Not that the book was unfinished, but that it was such a complete story that clearly the characters are all living past the page. (But she said no . . . .)

    I feel like there’s an entire “adult” book to write about the adults, particularly about Clem and Georgie and Owen.

    WELL NOW I WANT THAT, TOO. I liked that there were enough details that you could figure out the story.

    And it really was such a well-crafted book. I love books where all the puzzle pieces come together in the end.

      1. Joining the chorus of wanting more Izzy books! Although there’s a part of me that appreciates how nuanced the ending is (wrt Izzy), in that Tony gave her the place out of pity and she took it to stop him feeling bad about himself (which he kinda should have felt), and ended up earning that place in a way she never would have believed possible. So I can read into her future and her realising that her belief that she’ll never have romance is as wrong as her previous conviction that she had nothing to offer at the paper. (The rest of me really, really wants to SEE the romance, and Jack/Rosamunde, of course!)

        OH MY GOSH YES to Marco being in jail. That was – why do you think Voigt went that way? Just to have him still around to be verbally smacked down?

        1. About Marco not being in jail–I think it was that (because it’s a little bit symbolic of her becoming herself, though I prefer Tony forgetting her crutches for that), and also to keep the story focused on Izzy. If he went to jail, then there’s a part of the story that’s about the kids thinking she was a rat, and that would have influenced how they treated her. So it wouldn’t just have been about the problems relating to her injury, you know? It would also have been about Marco going to trial, and I think Suzy said something about how the other kids at the party would have been punished as well, which sort of gets rid of Tony’s guilty feelings because he might have felt he’d paid, a little.

          But what gets me is that NO ONE looked into the accident as a possible crime! I can see Izzy telling her friend that she wasn’t going to tell anyone the truth, but that the ADULTS didn’t do anything about it…that’s just wrong.

          1. Yes, there’s definitely something said about how there would have been consequences for the other kids at the party – though presumably not JAIL consequences. Isn’t that part of what causes the other kids to gang up on the protag in Speak too? Different issue, but same kind of valuing of the super-popular kid who did wrong over his victim. I like that Tony forgetting moment too – and the little Izzy in her head doing back-flips.

            I KNOW, right? The cop involved was Rosamunde’s father, too – I couldn’t imagine any reason for a policeman coming across a one-car, late-night crash, two teens in it, and not taking blood sample for alcohol. (I think Marco claimed he didn’t remember what had happened and suggested Izzy had taken the wheel, but – not like someone who’s irresponsible enough to drive drunk might lie a bit, right?) I guess I can see it as a narrative choice, and one that clearly is effective in causing teeth-grinding at the UNFAIRNESS of it all, but still…

        2. It always entertained me, how Rosamunde was convinced Izzy would rightly end up editor senior year while Izzy thought she had nothing to offer. ROSAMUNDE. IZZY. THIS BOOK. (That’s it, I’ve run out of coherent comments.)

  2. Greenglass House just fit together so beautifully! And I figured out the deal with Meddie right up front (not because I am smart, it just happened) so I had the joy of seeing how well-concealed that secret was, all the way through. The thing with Clem and Georgie and Owen…it broke my heart, really it did.

    But I love Izzy too, so I can see how this would be a really hard choice.

    1. Greenglass House was so incredibly well-constructed! I’m impressed you figured out the deal with Meddie – I didn’t see it coming at all! And I should have. I survived We Were Liars.

  3. I actually chose between my two books based on entertainment as well. They were good but just in different ways and I went with the more lively one in the end.

      1. Crap. I just realized I probably should have waited until AFTER Beth posted my entry to comment. Oops. I did like them both a lot if that makes you feel any better Jess. 🙂

        1. I am not capable of being rational about the book you didn’t pick. So you will apparently be the person I shun this year. Sorry.

    1. You have to read Izzy, Brandy! It’s good enough to give Greenglass House (which you know is fabulous) a real contest! I actually don’t think this is a lopsided matchup, and you know how much I love Greenglass House.

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