Go (East And) West, Young Woman

BOOK REPORT for East (East #1) and West (East #2) by Edith Pattou

Cover Story: Heart Eyes
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Unbalanced
Bonus Factors: Magical Talking Animal, Folklore/Retelling
Relationship Status: Wish We Would Have Met When We Were Young

Cover Story: Heart Eyes

These are the second and third books I’ve reviewed recently with covers illustrated by Charlie Bowater (the first being Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward), and I couldn’t be more pleased. She’s one of my favorite artists right now, and her skills are exemplary. Although the original cover of East was cute, I’m glad the publishers decided to update it to go along with West’s.

The two covers play off of each other nicely, and all of the elements work really well with the contents of the books. And the slight aging of the woman on the West cover? *chef’s kiss*

The Deal:

East tells the story of Rose, the youngest daughter of a large family who’s always wanted adventure. When one of her sisters gets ill and the family’s fortunes take a nosedive, Rose isn’t sure how she can help—until a magical white bear comes knocking. If Rose goes with the bear, the sister will get better and their prosperity will return. One mistake, however, causes thing sto go awry, and Rose must go on a quest to right what she’s wronged.

West picks up Rose’s story a while later, and finds Rose having to once again embark on a quest to save the people she loves.

BFF Charm: Yay

Although there are many POVs throughout East and West, Rose is the true main character. She’s a strong-willed, adventurous girl with a penchant for “asking forgiveness rather than permission.” She doesn’t have much book learning, but is terribly smart and picks up tasks with ease. She’s not a princess, but she’s the kind of girl I always imagined the best princesses to be like (e.g., Belle from Beauty and the Beast) when I was little.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Rose finds love in both East and West, but there’s very little actual swoon; the relationship was quite predictable and inevitable, which decreased my enjoyment of it slightly. While we were told that Rose and [REDACTED] fell in love, it’s never really shown.

Talky Talk: Unbalanced

East was originally published in 2003, and it’s a book I would have loved when I was an actual YA (or MG, really). The story is one of adventure and magic, with engaging characters, but the world-building is sparse, and Pattou’s writing short and without much embellishment. I’m all for avoiding purple prose, but there’s a balance between too much and too little detail that was missing in both East and West.

The many POVs made for a choppy read, particularly because they were often in different locations, or seemingly randomly added in only to tell a part of the story that someone else might have been better suited to do. It wasn’t hard to tell the POVs apart, thankfully, but that’s mostly because they were often short (and who was talking was the “title” of each chapter).

Additionally, both East and West fall prey to the trope of continual misadventure. (I’m not sure if there’s an official name for this.) When something was going right for Rose or another of the characters, it was only a matter of time before something bad happened, again and again (and again). It became formulaic long before the actual climax and resolution.

Bonus Factor: Magical Talking Animal

I do so love a good magical talking animal.

Bonus Factor: Folklore/Retelling

There are shades of Beauty and the Beast to East, and both it and West include various aspects of folklore (Norwegian, mostly) and mythology. The way all of these aspects flow seamlessly together just goes to show how timeless these ideas/tales are.

Relationship Status: Wish We Would Have Met When We Were Young

We had fun, Books, but I couldn’t help thinking that we would have had more fun when I was younger. Although we’d never met, there was an air of nostalgia to my reading experience, and I couldn’t help picking at things I likely would have overlooked in my youth. I’m still glad we got together, however, and I have no regrets about the time we shared.

Literary Matchmaking:

  

● For one of FYA’s favorite talking animals, check out Plain Kate by Erin Bow.

● Meagan Spooner’s Hunted is another Beauty and the Beast retelling, but with darker themes.

● And for another young woman on a quest (also with a magical animal!) story, you might like Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series.


FTC Full Disclosure: I bought a copy of East with my own money and received a copy of West from HMH Books for Young Readers, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. East and West are both available now.