What would you do if you discover you are a book character who escaped to the real world and you were actually supposed to die in the book?
Well, that’s what Gracie has to deal with in this middle-grade fantasy, Unwritten. Her mother took her and fled the book world, which is called Bondoff, when she discovered that Gracie was to die in the book. They lived a somewhat peaceful life until Gracie learns that Getrude Winters, the woman who wrote the story, is having an event close by. She decides to confront her and well, things do not end well. This leads to a series of events that has Gracie wondering what’s real and what isn’t? Is she even real?
Author: Tara Gilboy
Publication Date: 16th Oct 2018
Rating: 3.5 stars
Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe.
But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draws herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy tale ending.
I was totally drawn to this book because of its cover, its unique plot and the fact that it was published on my birthday. I’m glad I requested it on Netgalley and got the chance to read it because its such a fun read.
In the book community, writers often joke about killing off characters, but what if one day you realise somehow these characters you’ve written are real and your words directly influence their lives. You are really killing people. Really creepy right?
Well, that’s what’s happening in Bondoff. Their lives are controlled by the story that Getrude Winters wrote about them, all except Queen Cassandra who is poised as the villain in this story. Nothing is the same in Bondoff, a character who acts a certain way in the real world can be totally different in the story. What’s written in the story controls them, despite if they don’t want to be that way.
“Because what does it mean, really, to be labeled a villain? Nobody really thinks of herself as a villain. We are all the heroes in our own stories.”
I loved the characters in this book. Gracie is a strong headed, brave little girl who just wants to know the truth when all the adults around her try to protect her from it. Her search for the truth takes her back into the story along with her friend Walter. I know several people will call her an unlikeable character. She’s sometimes selfish and makes some rash decisions. But she’s just a 12-year-old girl who is frantically trying to make sense of it all. You just can’t help but root for her to have her happy ending.
Walter is the kid who tries to explain everything with science but there are some things science just can’t explain… yet.
Gertrude Winters is the unknowing author who thought she was just writing a story, not knowing she was creating a world in her books and that she will have to face the consequences later on. Out of all the characters, she had the saddest story.
“Do you think maybe it wasn’t his fault what he did? Gertrude Winters is the one who wrote the story about him. Maybe your dad couldn’t help but be the person she wrote about.”
I love how this book just looks like an adventurous fantasy where characters move between two worlds and good triumphs over evil, but deep down its more than that.
It deals with anger management issues, self-discovery, family, struggling against one’s fate and also the mother-daughter dynamics between Gracie and her mother are great.
Being angry doesn’t make you a villain, Gracie. Anger can help you stand up for yourself, do the things you need to. It can be a good thing, if you control it rather than letting it control you”
I find it refreshing to see such portrayed in middle-grade fiction. I loved how Gracie finally understood that she is the author of her own fate and how she learns to deal with her decisions. Things do get a little bit dark towards the end and though it’s not really predictable, I felt a little disconnected from what was happened towards the end.
I also felt the story was a bit rushed though. It had such a unique plot but it felt like it should have been a bit longer to fully make the story fully come together. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel one day though.
I recommend this book to children/teens as well as adults and all those who love reading a story within a story kind of books and fantasy books where characters discover another world. It’s a fun and easy to read middle-grade fantasy book about a girl who’s determined to make things right and fight against the fate written for her in the book. So you guys take it easy with killing off characters okay (just kidding)
If you are looking for more middle grade fantasy with similar themes to Unwritten, I recommend these books.
- The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta
- Dragons In A Bag by Zetta Elliott
- The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray by B. A. Williamson
Chat time! Have you read Unwritten? What would you do if your characters come to life? Don’t you just love books with another world in them? Tell me, what good middle-grade books have you read recently?