The Spindlers Lauren Oliver Book Review

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.

The Spindlers Lauren Oliver Book Cover

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

A Reader Of Fictions – “The Spindlers was my least favorite, but still contained some of the wonderful bits that make Oliver’s work such a joy to devour.

Midnight Book Girl – “a wonderful mix of Alice in Wonderland, Labyrinth, and Oliver’s wonderful imagination and originality.

Books by Lauren Oliver:

Before I Fall
Liesl And Po

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Okay, so here’s where the difference happened: I was SUPER creeped out by Mirabella. Like, she may be the most terrifying character I encountered in 2012. I’m not even terrified of rats in general (my friend had some and they were nice), but, yikes, she scared the pants off me. Her running makeup and disgusting outfit, I just couldn’t.

    BUT Lauren Oliver DOES know how to tell a story. Hells yeah, she rocks writing. Also, I loved the Nocturni too, which I think said in my review. That’s why it still got a 2.5 for me, but I was hoping for like 4.5, so the overall feeling was of disappointment (and of terror – thanks Mirabella!).

    • Whoops! I gave it a 3.5, not a 2.5. I am very good at typing, obvi!

    • I guess because I grew up reading Redwall and that entire series and then last year I read Malcolm The Rat, I’m not entirely creeped out by fictional rats. Real life ones, on the other hand, oh hell no. ALSO, I have to just LOL at her being your most terrifying character. I thought she really redeemed herself in the end though.

      Lauren Oliver’s writing is among my favorites — it’s why I own multiple copies of her books – not only hardcopies but also audio. I’m such a nerd with that hahaha.

      • No, see, fictional rats do not usually bother me either. I LURVED Redwall when I was a kid. I mean, the rats in Lady and the Tramp were hella terrifying, but mostly fictional rats and I are cool. Mirabella is special and haunts my dreams.

        I would do that if I had the space and the money (well, I might have the money, but I’m a cheapskate and always have been lol)!

  2. Eep! I want to read this now, thanks to your review. I’m loving that fact that you mentioned that it’s for people who love Lucy or Alice – and since I love both, it sounds like this one will be a good fit for me 🙂

  3. I feel like I’m stalking you a bit at the moment but… that first line totally made me laugh! And though I’ve only read Delirium from Lauren Oliver so far, I must agree that her writing is absolutely stunning and I need all of her books for that purpose alone! Glad you enjoyed this one 🙂

    • Ha, stalk away although I am so totally not that interesting.

      You know, her writing is really gorgeous and for me that’s a big element in my enjoyment of a book — thus Lauren Oliver is an auto-buy. I hope you check out Before I Fall, I think that’s my favorite of her books, along with Liesl And Po.

  4. I went into The Spindlers with pretty low expectations because it was panned by some people I actually really trust A LOT

    This is why I have been putting off reading this one because I LOVED Liesl & Po so much and was afraid of being disappointed with this one. But this review give me hoooope. When I thought all hope was looooost. Yay!! Awesome review. I will have to bump this up the pile.

    • Wendy, sometimes it’s nice to put something off because then you don’t come in with expectations driven by the hype machine. I really liked The Spindlers a lot, but it’s also been over a year since I read Liesl & Po, so there is that. I mean, it’s not as good as Liesl & Po, but still decent. I liked it. I hope you like it too 🙂

  5. I totally agree, there are some authors that could write a manual for coffee maker and it would be at least a four star review from me. I’m happy to read whatever Oliver wants to write, so I’m glad that her middle grade books are pretty good too!

    • Haha, yes, like if John Green wrote a refrigerator operating manual I would be like oh hell yes I will buy that and give it all of the stars.

      Lauren Oliver’s middle grade books are quite fantastic.

  6. I’m glad this turned out well for you! I must catch up on my Lauren Oliver books–I haven’t even read Pandemonium yet. I know. I know.

  7. This sounds really awesome! Like something I could read to my daughter and enjoy myself!

  8. I liked Mirabella a lot too and this book was fine. I just loved “Liesl and Po” so much and didn’t think this one was quite up to the (incredibly high) bar Oliver has set for herself with previous writings.

    • Mirabella was definitely an interesting character. I think that for me, I didn’t go in with a lot of expectations and I had already read reviews that weren’t quite as enthusiastic and so I was very pleasantly surprised.

  9. I adored this one as well! And yes, I would so read a Lauren Oliver retelling of the phone book. 🙂

  10. I absolutely love middle grade books. And children’s books, too. Last year I read very few, so this year I am going to try to read more of them.

    Anyway, I haven’t read ANYTHING by Lauren Oliver. Leisl and Po is at the top of the list, though, and I think I should add The Spindlers as well.

    Glad you liked it. Thanks for the review.

  11. “it turns out when you have low expectations they are easily exceeded” = me LOLing and wanting to needlepoint this on a pillow even though I don’t know how to needlepoint or even sew so that’s out but IF I DID I’d be needlepointing the hell out of this.



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