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Tripping to Somewhere, by Kristopher Reisz Book Review | SFReader.com
Tripping to Somewhere, by Kristopher Reisz Genre: YA Fantasy Publisher: Simon and Schuster Published: 2006 Review Posted: 10/3/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
Tripping to Somewhere, by Kristopher Reisz
Book Review by C. Dennis Moore
Have you read this book?
You really just don't know where life's gonna take you, do you? You can plan every move step by step with all the meticulous care in the world, but in the end, you can't control everything and at the end of the day, you just don't know. This is a fact of life Gillian "Gilly" Stahl and her best (and only) friend Samantha Grace should have kept in mind when they ditched school one afternoon to steal $50,000 from Gilly's crooked cop father and set out in search of the Witch's Carnival.
The Witch's Carnival is a myth, an urban legend. But the homeless man, Meek, insists that if they search for it, they'll find it. Neither Sam nor Gilly have much going on in their home lives--Sam's mother's boyfriend collects barely legal porn in the garage while Gilly's the shunned lesbian in their high school--so . . . why not, right?
Athens, Alabama author Kristopher Reisz has written a very admirable novel here. There's so much about Tripping to Somewhere that, as a writer, I truly admire, I'm still at something of a loss for words when it comes time to talk about it.
Tripping to Somewhere is billed as "A road trip in search of everything", but it's more than a simple road novel. There are layers to the characters here that surpass what I've seen authors publishing their tenth novel are capable of. There are hints and things left unsaid that scream louder than all the words spoken in the entire novel. And there are moments that will break your heart. Not bad for a first-time novelist.
Gilly and Sam travel to Atlanta in search of the Carnival. They even find it for a night, party with the witches, but wake up to the reality of having been left behind. They find out where the Carnival is headed next and realize that joining this band of roaming gypsies isn't as easy as stepping into the back of the line; they have to earn their place, prove their determination and willingness. They follow the Carnival to London and track them down again, but then they discover what it really takes to join the Witch's Carnival and what that means for everyone they have to leave behind.
I loved this book. I won't say there weren't certain plot points that I rolled my eyes at (the adventure would have been a hell of a lot more difficult without the stolen $50,000, so is it LUCK Gilly's dad is a crooked cop, or just a case of an author looking for an easy solution to the hardest problems?), but believe me, it wasn't the plot that kept me going; it was the writing.
Reisz writes like a pro that's been at this game most of his life. His dialogue flows, his prose is dead-on, and while he never misses a detail, he never lets it get boring. The following is one of my favorite passages because it illustrates perfectly what I mean:
Through the door, she could hear gates clang and guards talk back and forth over their radios. Gilly used the toilet; then, with nothing else to do, she paced around until she spotted mouse droppings in the corner. Gilly lay down, tucking her hands between her knees.
It's such a simple paragraph. It doesn't say much with words, but it implies so much. Gilly's restlessness and then her shock as reality hits her and her surrender to that reality by doing the only thing she can do, laying down and letting what will happen happen. It's a paragraph that I know I, in my own work, would have neglected, feeling the constant need to always be in motion, never let things simmer. And my book would be the weaker for it.
Tripping to Somewhere is a very strong novel and probably one I'll be recommending to friends for a long time to come.
There are, however, like I said, a few problems. Plot points aside, I think my biggest problem is the fact this is being marketed as a teen novel. Yes, the main characters are teens, but there's so much sex and drugs and cursing in this book, I know jaded adults who'd blush reading this thing. And while I'm always trying to get my 14-year-old to read, I sure as hell wouldn't offer him this book. It's a great book, yes, but it's definitely NOT a teen book.
Not to put any pressure on Reisz, but if he can keep up this level of awesomeness for his next book, I'll be there to read it. Tripping to Somewhere is a book about teens, for adults (despite what the publisher says), but if you don't identify with these characters and their lives . . . well, then you were one of the people in high school I hated anyway and you don't deserve to read this book. But that's neither here nor there. Read it anyway; Tripping to Somewhere is a great book and I happily recommend it.
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