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Lily Sparrow is an atypical teenager: a teenager who thrives on mathematics, who wants everything clear and logical, who thinks all life should work out to a balanced equation. But when she discovers on her fifteenth birthday that her parents have been leading a double-life in a fairytale world, and now they want her to join them, she has a typical teenager response: She wants her normality back.
That she never was normal may occur to readers who watch her try to process all of life through mathematical equations. It’s natural, I suppose, that it never occurs to her.
The Cinderella Theorem is written by Kristee Ravan and is the first book of the Lily Sparrow Chronicles. This novel abounds in fresh, fun ideas. The clash between Lily’s mathematical compulsion and the fairytale world she is pushed into is the first. More follow.
In the world Lily enters, the characters of all the fairytales – good and bad – are living Happily Ever After. If they ever become Unhappy, they are no longer living Happy Ever After.
And so they vanish.
It’s a quirky world governed by its own absurd logic, and its citizens are all eccentric in their own way. I enjoyed all the outlandishness, enjoyed seeing old, beloved characters like Cinderella and King Arthur living Happily Ever After. The foundational ideas of the book and the worldbuilding are the finest elements of The Cinderella Theorem.
The principal flaw of this novel is a lack of proper editing. There are misplaced commas and far too many wrongly done dialogue tags (“That’s a problem.” He said). More substantively, there were things in the book – little things – that were extraneous, hints of ideas that were never used. (For example, in an early scene Lily is ordered out of a banned palace library … and that’s it for the Forbidden Library.) A good editor could have helped with these things.
I liked the first-person writing style of The Cinderella Theorem; I thought Lily had a good voice. The characters were quirky and likable, and the ideas and world itself were delightful. The Cinderella Theorem is an enjoyable book, a fun play on the old fairy tales. Recommended.
The Cinderella Theorem
(The Lily Sparrow Chronicles #1)
by Kristee Ravan
YA Urban Fantasy
Paperback, 367 pages
March 17th 2014
Fairy tales are naturally non-mathematical. That is a fact, and fifteen-year-old Lily Sparrow loves factual, mathematical logic. So when her mother confesses that Lily’s deceased father is (a) not dead, (b) coming to dinner, and (c) the ruler of a fairy tale kingdom accessible through the upstairs bathtub, Lily clings to her math to help her make sense of this new double life (1 life in the real world + 1 secret life in the fairy tale world = a double life).
Even though it’s not mathematical, Lily finds herself being pulled into a mystery involving an unhappy Cinderella, a greasy sycophant called Levi, and a slew of vanishing fairy tale characters. Racing against the clock, with a sound mathematical plan, Lily attempts to save her fairy tale friends while proving that normality = happiness.
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Kristee Ravan lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter, and pet fish, Val (short for Valentine). She wanted to be many things as she grew up including a general, an artist, and an architect. But she never bothered to say, “I want to be a writer when I grow up.” She was always writing stories and thought of herself as a writer anyway. She sent her first story to a publisher in the sixth grade. (It was rejected – in a nice way.) When she is not making up stories in her head, she enjoys reading, juggling, green smoothies, playing dollhouse with her daughter, and hearing from her fans. You can contact Kristee at the facebook page for her Lily Sparrow books: The Lily Sparrow Chronicles.
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