4/10/18

Weave a Circle Round, by Kari Maaren, for Timeslip Tuesday

I highly, but cautiously, recommend this week's Timeslip Tuesday book--Weave a Circle Round, by Kari Maaren (which was supposed to be last week's book, but time went wrong..).  In case you don't have time to read a complicated plot synopsis, here's what you need to know.
Weave a Circle Round hits all of the best time travel notes--
--relatable main character caught in a fantastic, complicated, twisty nest of time slipped realities
--her lived experiences in the past is vivid and compelling; it boarders on tourism time travel but advance the plot and character development enough to have Point. 
--the plot and characterization are complicated enough to engage the mind without making said mind want to crawl into a corner and hid from it all
I highly recommend it to fans of Diana Wynne Jones, not because it is a DWJ read-alike, but because it has a similar chaos resolving into a mythically rooted central order/origin point.  You have to be able to tolerate chaos and not understanding things for much of the book to appreciate this one (Hexwood I am looking at you in particular).
Kirkus and I agree-- "A charming, extraordinarily relatable book with the potential to become a timeless classic."

The Kirkus review also says--"This debut novel could easily be pigeonholed as YA, and certainly those in that age group will gravitate to it, but adults shouldn't hesitate to dive in, too."  And indeed the book is marketed as YA.  Much to my surprise I found it felt much more upper middle grade in feel; the central character, a 14 year old girl,  is kicking against domestic life, and trying to fit in, and is still very much a child and not a Young Adult for much of the book.  There is nothing to cause a parent of an eleven or twelve year old concern unless that child has lived in a bubble (there is no romance, and no sex, but there is some violence).

Here is a somewhat negative review at Bibliosanctum. I don't often link to negative reviews in order to help people decide if a book is right for them, but in this case, I think that if in general you like all the things this reader doesn't, you will like this one!  

So now that you know if you will like the book or not, here's the plot (more or less).
Freddy, the main character, is 14, and trying hard to fly under the radar at high school.  Now that her little sister, brilliant and unabashed, and her stepbrother, nerdy, also unabashed, and deaf, have joined her, it's hard.  But then the new neighbor, Josiah, shows up as well, and he seems determined to latch on to her, pushing her social weirdness rating up many many notches; he freely shares his contempt for much of what he's experiencing at school, provoking conflict and disrupting the normal pattern of each day.  The woman Josiah lives with (Cuerva Lachance) is a loose cannon too; her mental state is on of constant non-sequitorish chaos. 
At this point, the reader and Freddy don't know what's happening, but it is clear that the new neighbors are odd and hiding something.  Freddy's brother is acting oddly too, trying to keep her and Josiah apart for reasons unknown.  
At the point right after this, things get weirder still, when Josiah and Freddy slip into the past.  The reader and Freddy are both taken aback to find themselves amongst Vikings, with Cuerva Lachance in the role of Loki.  It gradually is explained (over the course of much more timesliping from thousands of years in the past to hundreds of years in the future; the timeslipping isn't controllable) that Josiah and C.L. are two opposing forces, balanced by a third, constantly reincarnated person who is called upon to determine which of them will be dominant for that age. And it is further explained that in Freddy's time, this third person is supposed to be either her or one of her siblings.
Josiah, even though he's supposed to be the embodiment of order, isn't exactly trustworthy, and Freddy comes to realize that there is more to this business of the third party decider than he's letting on.  And by the time they finally get back to the present (three weeks before they leave, which is tricky for them, but after over a year spent in various other times) she's become pretty hostile to the whole business of a third party being compelled to make a choice. 
Which results in everything blowing up, thanks to Chuerva Lachance, into full blown insanity, and it requires all of Freddy's brother's experience as a role-playing gamer to bring the story into submission.  Which then makes the reader rethink the whole story, and plan to read it again.
Freddy isn't particularly likable, but her wild experiences bouncing through time give her plenty of life experience and moments for introspection, leading to welcome character growth and insight.  Because she's habitually honest with herself inside her head, even when she's not "likeable" she's very relatable.  
final though:  the plot is nuts, and the ending is played to a draw so if you want Answers, Resolution, and surety about whether what happened was Good or Bad, you'll be dismayed.
More final thought--I myself enjoyed it very much.





4 comments:

  1. Thank you! I had been wondering about this one and your review is very helpful! I love DWJ and can tolerate the wackiness of her books even though some brands of wackiness disengage me. I am glad you enjoyed this one!

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  2. Oh excellent! I picked this up at the library recently on impulse, just because the description on the book sounded so amazing. Impulse books have been a very mixed bag for me in the past (surprise surprise) so I am delighted to hear good things about it.

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  3. This one certainly sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

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