I am pretty sure Lauren Oliver could re-write the phone book or the dictionary and I would read the hell out of it. Seriously, I am consistently blown away by Oliver’s talent with each book she writes. Y’all, I went into The Spindlers with pretty low expectations because it was panned by some people I actually really trust A LOT and it turns out when you have low expectations they are easily exceeded. I found The Spindlers to be an utterly charming story about the lengths we go to for those we love and the bond of siblings through good and bad. In short, I loved The Spindlers, Lauren Oliver’s latest middle grade book.
Liza wakes up for breakfast one day and notices that there’s something odd about her brother, Patrick. He seems to have changed overnight and is acting very, very strange. It’s then that Liza remembers what her old babysitter Anna told her about the world Below and the Spindlers. The Spindlers are these spider-like creatures who hide in the cobwebs and steal souls. She realizes that the Spindlers have stolen Patrick’s soul and so, she must journey to the world Below and face all sorts of trouble and toil to get him back. While in the Below, Liza meets a rat named Mirabella who offers to guide and assist her, but there’s something a bit strange about Mirabella.
Liza is a courageous and strong character, evocative of Carroll’s Alice or Gaiman’s Coraline. Her life is far from perfect — her parents are currently stressed and experiencing money troubles. She’s a lonely girl with only her brother and babysitter for friends. Yet, Liza has a big heart and consistently thinks of others. Liza uses her intellect to navigate the Below and it serves her quite well. However, she’s a tad bit naive and it’s to her detriment when dealing with others. This stated, Liza is a wonderful lead character for The Spindlers.
I’d be utterly remiss if I did not take the time to mention Mirabella the rat. I think Mirabella is the most interesting character in The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver, in that Mirabella is quite unusual and different from your typical rat. You see, she starts the book dressed as a human — she wears clothes and makeup and a wig. She wants desperately to be liked and to be accorded the respect that people get rather than the disdain and fear received automatically by rats. Yet, there’s more to her character. There’s a bit of a dark side and it is awesome. I think she has the best character arc within the book and makes the most change. Mirabella was a nice bonus to an already enjoyable story.
Perhaps my favorite element of The Spindlers were the nocturni, creatures that show the scope of Oliver’s imagination. The world she creates is creepy and fantastical. I loved that the more scary elements were balanced out by outstanding bits — like the nocturni, and I won’t go into depth on what they are because I don’t want to spoil you but be on the look out for them.
Lauren Oliver’s writing continues to be wonderful. Girl knows how to weave a story. The Spindlers reminded me of the fantasy that I read in my youth and I thought it was a lovely send up to the genre — we’ve all read stories before of changelings and mysterious worlds right under our noses whether it’s Narnia or Wonderland. I’d recommend The Spindlers to elementary age children and those who love the middle grade genre and have a soft spot for Lucy and Alice, respectively.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine
Other reviews of The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver:
Justin’s Book Blog – “I would say that The Spindlers falls more on the lighter side”
Books by Lauren Oliver: