Sunday, 4 July 2010

57: "A Kiss in Time" by Alex Flinn

Publisher: HarperTeen
Page count: 400 pages
Date begun: June 9th, 2010
Date finished: June 10th, 2010

Yet another fairy tale retelling, this one a modernised take on Sleeping Beauty. Talia is a spoiled and bored princess who since she was old enough to understand what people said to her, has been told that she must avoid spindles, because of a spell placed on her during her christening. Talia doesn't actually know what a spindle is, as all such things have been banned from the country, but on her sixteenth birthday, as she is wandering through the palace trying on dresses to find the perfect one for her birthday ball, and she finds an old lady who lets her play with her interesting spinning device - and just like that, Talia and the entire kingdom of Euphrasia (right next to Belgium) fall asleep and the country disappears off the map.

Three hundred years later, spoiled and bored American teenager Jack is on a three week, all expenses paid tour of Europe. Of course, he doesn't actually appreciate how lucky this makes him, and mainly wants to go back home. He and his friend escape from the scheduled tour and when looking for a beach, fight their way through the thick hedge surrounding Euphrasia, and find the royal palace instead. Jack finds the sleeping princess, and is struck with the overwhelming urge to kiss her - even though in real life, this would be a massively creepy and inappropriate thing to do. His kiss wakes Talia, and as the spell specified that only true love's kiss could wake her, Talia deduces that the oddly dressed gentleman must be her true love, whether he wants to be or not.

The rest of the kingdom also wake up, and Talia's parents are not exactly happy, realizing that their kingdom is 300 years behind the times. They blame Talia, who is understandably a bit put out, as the spell was clearly inescapable, and she would have had an easier time avoiding spindles in the first place if she'd actually been shown what one looked like. She forces Jack to take her with him, and soon they are on their way back to the US. Jack wants to bring Talia mainly to piss off his parents, who he feels do not care for him and are never there for him, and Talia just wants to see the world, after having been extremely sheltered for the first sixteen years of her life.

Both the protagonists start out as quite unlikeable, spoiled and self-centered, but over the course of the story, they force each other to view the world in different ways. Jack introduces Talia to modern technology, airplanes, cell phones and hot dogs, while Talia, from a time where modern technology couldn't effectively make it perfectly possible to get through life without actually ever talking to anyone else, shows Jack that by listening to the people around him, and maybe talking to them instead of shutting them out, he may learn something, and possibly sort out some of the things that have frustrated and annoyed him.

I got A Kiss in Time because I absolutely loved Alex Flinn's modernised take on Beauty and the Beast in Beastly (coming soon to a cinema near you in what looks like a not very good adaptation starring yer-girl out of High School Musical and yer-man out of that Alex Ryder-movie Stormbreaker that no one ever remembers). While I didn't in any way dislike A Kiss in Time, it was nowhere near as good, and struggles a bit to make the story plausible. The change in the characters happens a little bit too fast, and a little too neatly, for it to be entirely satisfying. But it was by no means bad, and a more than adequate way to spend a few hours.

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