Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Towering by Alex Flinn

Goodreads Summary: At first, I merely saw his face, his hands on the window ledge. Then, his whole body as he swung himself through the window. Only I could not see what he swung on.Until, one day, I told my dream self to look down. And it was then that I saw. He had climbed on a rope. I knew without asking that the rope had been one of my own tying.
Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her. 
Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.
Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now. 
A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Alex Flinn knows her fairy tales, and Towering is her most mind-bending interpretation yet. Dark and mysterious, this reimagining of Rapunzel will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering where Alex will take them next!
Goodreads / The Book Depository

Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Pages: 293
Publisher: HarperTeen

First Line: "I had not been outside in years."

Favorite Quote: N/A


***Warning*** This review contains spoilers for the book. 

When I first saw Towering, I was very excited to read it. Not only because it has a beautiful cover and a lovely summary, but because I have read some of Flinn's other books and loved them. I'm beginning to think that I have a love/hate relationship with her work, because I enjoyed Beastly (the book and the movie), A Kiss In Time, and Bewitching. If anyone asked me for recommendations for good retellings, I would point them towards those in a heartbeat. However, I was mostly indifferent towards Cloaked - honestly, I don't remember a single thing that happened even though I read it most recently - but with Towering . . . well, I hated it. I can honestly say that this book left me completely baffled, and not in the good way when what you've read is so awesome you've been rendered speechless. No, I am baffled as in annoyed, because I feel like I wasted precious reading hours.

I read in someone's review - I'm sorry I don't remember who - that Rapunzel is a very difficult fairy tale to modernize. I have to agree with that, but at the same time a cute re-telling of it can be done. I mean, just look at the success of the movie Tangled. I guess I'll just name off all the things that really got under my skin, but I'm sure I'll miss a few things along the way, simply because there are so many. I wanted to write a spoiler-free review for this as I generally try to do with everything I read, but I feel like I won't adequately express my problems by trying to go around them and not revealing anything.

What really irks me is that Towering actually started off rather well. I was interested in what was going on, and at first the narration didn't bother me. The mystery of what happened to Danielle and how she tied into the girl locked away in a tower was intriguing. But as time went on, I began to really hate Rachel's chapters. I understand that someone who has been isolated for most of their life would be very naive and probably pretty innocent, but for some reason, her "voice" really bothered me. She was just so aggravating - she was beautiful, of course, but also soft and lovely and completely flat as a character. There is absolutely nothing memorable about her at all. I didn't mind Wyatt nearly as much, up until he started seeing Rachel.

The instalove in Towering is almost unbearable. In fairy tales, the two characters always seem to fall in love rather quickly, but with these two people it was insane. They literally say "I love you" the second time they meet, all because of some weird mental connection they have. They knew next to nothing about each other, and suddenly they were in eternal and unbreakable love. Wyatt has this little moment somewhere in the middle of the story when he wonders if maybe Rachel only loves him because he's the only person she's seen in a long, long time. But he quickly dismisses this idea; personally, I think he should have considered it a little more deeply.

And this is where it starts getting spoiler-ish: 

I don't understand why Zach fed Danielle the rhapsody. Why would he even be interested in fulfilling the prophecy when he was the nephew of the bad guys? I guess this means that he could have been a decent human being, but if he was, again, what's with the feeding? It makes zero sense to me. And how do the villains, Henry and Carl, even know about this prophecy? It also seems like Mrs. Greenwood could have lived with Rachel in isolation or maybe just moved really far away. It didn't seem like she tried very hard to get away from the people threatening her. She didn't seem like a bad person, but wasn't exactly the easiest to understand.

And at the very end, after Rachel defeats everyone as destroys all the rhapsody, I find it hard to believe that Henry and Carl would just run away. They must have known that they would be slower and weaker without, that they would probably eventually get caught by the police. So wouldn't they want to stick around and try to get revenge on the people who took everything from them? Rachel had just lost her powers since they served their purpose, Wyatt was badly injured, all the slaves left, and Mrs. Greenwood is a sixty year old lady. Let's face it, they weren't in any position to defend themselves. So what gives? If I'm being completely honest, the whole prophecy and "chosen one" thing seemed absolutely ridiculous. I mean really; there's this big secret drug corporation and the key to stopping it all is the girl with the magic hair and tears.

I also disliked the paranormal addition to the story. Danielle was dead, and she should have stayed dead, rather than popped up a few times to creep Wyatt out and show him what was inside the silver hairbrush (which he just happened to find in a store when he was out). She is also the given explanation for why Wyatt and Rachel can communicate mentally. It just seemed extremely random, but at this point I didn't care because I hated pretty much everything anyway. So overall, Towering was a promising book, but in the end it made no sense and the characters are nothing short of infuriating. Still, if Flinn every decides to do another retelling, I will still pick it up, because of having enjoyed her other novels. This one, though, is not one I could ever recommend in good conscience.

1 star 

Books in this series 

Other Opinions: 

The White Unicorn
Stuck In Books
Birth Of A New Witch


  1. This one sparked my attention not only from the cover and summery, but also because I really enjoyed Beastly (the movie) and was curious about Flinn's books.

    It's a shame you didn't enjoy Towering. I can certainly see why, though. The insta-love was not my cup of tea, either. Especially when Wyatt used cheesy terms of endearment like 'dear' or what ever it was he called Rachel.

    For me the driving force of the book was the mystery, though, so I was able to overlook the horrible romance. I ended up giving it a 3, enjoyable enough but I'm not sure if I'll be in a hurry to pick up more books by the author.

    Thanks for the honest review! :)

    1. I was all set to give it three stars also, because the mystery was actually pretty interesting. I just thought the explanation at the end was really out of place and kind of cheesy. A Kiss In Time (Sleeping Beauty re-telling) is actually pretty good. Thanks for your opinion!

  2. Oh no! I hate to see you didn't like this one. I've been wanting to read it for months now. I love Rapunzel and the movie Tangled. It sounded like such a good book and had a gorgeous cover. I stopped reading after you said it was going to get spoiler-ish so I'm not sure what irked you besides the things you listed before that. I hateeee insta-love. It just makes me immediately think the characters are unrealistic and I get bothered by everything they do. I also don't really like MC who are naive. That bothers me so much. I can understand it to an extent in this novel, given the circumstances, but other than that, no thank you. Sad to hear this disappointed you. Thank you for the honest review! I'll wait to get it from the library if I decide to read it.

    1. Even if I hate a book, I still try not to discourage other people from reading it if they're interested (but yes, I would get it from the library rather than buying it if I were you). Maybe you'll like it more than me! I'm glad I noted when the spoilers started in the review so I didn't ruin anything for you. I was also lured in by the gorgeous cover. That seems to happen to me a lot. :)

      Thank you so much for your thoughts!