Saturday, 20 September 2014

REVIEW: A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any form.

Author: David Almond
Published by: Hodder Children's Books on 2nd October 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Links: GoodReads | Waterstones | Wordery


"I'm the one who's left behind. I'm the one to tell the tale. I knew them both...knew how they lived and how they died."

Claire is Ella Grey's best friend. She's there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards.; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story - as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.

This is a retelling of the 'Orpheus and Eurydice' greek myth - which is one I had never even heard of. I'm also a huge fan of David Almond ever since reading Skellig as a child back in my years in primary school. A Song for Ella Grey truly intrigued me and the summary sounded very promising. I'm sad to say that this wasn't one of Almond's better novels.

The writing style is a little different with a stronger use of punctuation that you wouldn't find in most YA books. Though lyrical and poetic, I was confused in most parts when reading the story. In terms of plot, there isn't one. Not really. 

We meet Claire and Ella Grey, two best friends who share a very strong bond, one which I admired. Majority of the story was told from Claire's point-of-view as we know from the summary that Ella Grey dies so Claire is left to narrate the story. Claire and her friends discover Orpheus on a beach where his singing enchants anyone who listens. His back story is a little mysterious as socialization is not something he is fond of. He meets Ella through Claire and the two of them start a relationship which leaves Claire wondering if she is losing Ella to Orpheus. 

Ella's personality just didn't win me over and I felt like I didn't know her at all. Her death is sudden and a little rushed that I just didn't feel any sympathy. There were a lot of elements towards the end that really put me off and irritated me. The only relationship that I did understand was the friendship between Ella and Claire. It's implied that Claire harbors strong feelings for Ella but she chooses to support and respect Ella's choices. I also wished to know see more about Orpheus, though we do get a chapter from his point-of-view. The events following Ella's death were truly disappointing and a shame as it could have been better.

Even with the tragedy, the ending wasn't one of the best and I'm really dissatisfied with how the story turned out. To an extent this was an okay novel, the beginning was more enjoyable to read than the end in my opinion. There are fantasy elements that connect the story back to the myth but it just didn't work for me.

Green Wreath

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