Sunday, October 17, 2010
REVIEW: The Twilight Prisoner
Marsh, K. (2009). The Twilight Prisoner. New York: Hyperion Books.
Appetizer: Less than a year after the events of The Night Tourist, Jack is back to living in New York City and for the first time in his life he has friends and a major crush on a girl named Cora.
After Jack finally gets up the nerve to ask Cora out, he's disappointed to find that the date isn't going as well. Jack can still see ghosts (a fact the ghosts find very unnerving) and Cora invites along Austin on their date. To try to turn things around, Jack suggests they tour the basement of one of the buildings on Columbia's campus. Mid-tour, Jack realizes they've happened upon another entryway into the underworld. He can't help but want to take Cora there, to share his past with her.
Once in New York City's underworld though, Jack discovers that not all is as he left it. His friend and guide Euri is in an asylum for ghosts who are having trouble accepting that they are dead. She's angry and acting as a poltergeist.
And even worse, there's new law enforcement in the underworld. The guards are focused on stopping The Living Avenger (AKA Jack) and on preventing him and Cora from returning to the land of the living. A fact Cora is having trouble dealing with, since she knows her mother needs her.
I don't quite know why, but I had a much easier time getting into and enjoying The Twilight Prisoner than I did The Night Tourist. Part of it could be the addition of Cora. She spent the entire trip to the underworld worrying about returning home to take care of her mother. This added the tension that I thought was missing from the last book. Also, when dealing with the serious topic of suicide, this book seemed more focused on the "choose life" side of the discussion (not that the last book was on the "choose death" side, it was more about denying responsibility/consequence).
I loved the Living Avenger parts too, the idea that ghosts are haunted by a living person was fun.
I also liked that this book focused its allusions on the Persephone/Hades myth. I've always had a special love for that myth, ever since I was eight and participated in a play of it. I think I played a flower? Maybe. I don't know. All I remember is that I sat a lot and that I wanted to be Persephone and I thought the fifth grade boy who played Hades was cute. (Dear psychologists, is this the source of my literary bad boy obsession? My crush on Hades at a young age?)
You can imagine how big of a deal it was the first time I ate pomegranate seeds when I was a freshman in high school. I TOLD EVERYONE! (Thus cementing my reputation as a big dork forever after.)
Plus, this time around I got more of the humor. (There's an interesting scene involving the ghost of etiquette-queen Emily Post. I was amused.)
It could also be that I turned reading this book into a drinking COFFEE game. Every time Euri got pissy with another character or Jack had to hold Cora's hand I took a gulp of coffee. While I love coffee, this did involve a bit of pain on my part, especially when I got close to the bottom of the cup. My cats seem to have the special ability to shed hair on my food and in my cups.
That hair ain't mine.
Would it be more or less gross if it were?
So, that last gulp from my coffee cup tends to be be more cat hair than coffee. Tell me, few but dear readers, have you ever felt a clump of cat hair slide down your throat? It is not fun. I do however, recommend it if you would like to stop drinking all together.
I'm going to have to start drinking my coffee from sippy cups.
"It was just before dusk in Central Park, and JAck Perdu knew he needed to make his move. Cora Flores, a fellow sophomore and Latin scholar at the George C. Chapman High School, sat propped against a tree trunk, blowing bubbles with her gum, and filling in the New York Times crossword puzzle" (p. 1)
"They were in--all of them. Jack hesitated at the edge of the stream. All they had to do was walk across the water, and he could show Cora something more amazing than the cyclotron: a place where he had powers that no other living person had" (p. 41).
"We're in hell?"
"I prefer to call it the afterlife," said Euri. "It's got a better ring to it."
"Am I dead?" Cora cried, turning to Jack.
"Here we go again," Euri muttered under her breath.
"When we crossed over the stream, we entered the underworld," Jack explained. "But you're not dead and neither am I. I promise. And we can go back" (p. 51).
"Who's the Living Avenger?" Cora asked.
"Um, I think that might be me," Jack said. He tried to give Cora a reassuring smile, but she was busy frantically pressing buttons on her cell phone.
"Neat name," said Euri. "Do you have a mask, too?"
"Very funny" (p. 83).
Tasty Rating: !!!