Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thyla by Kate Gordon

Title: Thyla
Author: Kate Gordon
Publisher: Random House Australia
Release Date: April 1, 2011
Pages: 287 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: A gift from a very awesome friend.

My name is Tessa. I am strong. I am brave. I do not cry. These are the only things I know for certain.

I was found in the bush, ragged as a wild thing. I have no memory—not even of how I got the long, striping slashes across my back. They make me frightened of what I might remember.

The policewoman, Connolly, found me a place in a boarding school and told me about her daughter, Cat, who went missing in the bush.

I think there is a connection between Cat, me, and the strange things going on at this school. If I can learn Cat’s story, I might discover my own—and stop it happening again.


How strange.

I was forewarned that this tale of an amnesiac girl at a boarding school where strange things are going on was a very unusual book, but the friends that told me about Thyla were also adamant that it was fantastic. Well, one moreso than the other. It was a very strange book, but I did enjoy it overall and wish it were more easily available where I live. Why must Australia be so far away? Why?

I loved Tessa's voice and when she would rediscover something like waffles in the first half of the book, it made me smile. I'm more of a pancakes-drowned-in-maple-syrup kind of girl myself, but we definitely agreed how amazing hash browns are. When she had to rediscover something a little more exclusive to women, I felt her pain. She's so childlike in mannerisms yet so eloquent in her descriptions that I just want to huggle her forever like she's one of my cats. (Speaking of which, the cat I am huggling between fits of typing says hello.)

There's such a large disparity between the first half of the book and the second half that it almost requires reviewing them separately. I didn't have much to say about the first half and already said what I needed to, so on to the second half!

The Tessa of the second half is a very different girl from the first half. As her memories start to come back and she realizes that something is going on at Cascade Falls, she loses her naivete and becomes a tougher young woman than the girl who was amazed by waffles earlier in Thyla. Throughout both halves, her descriptions remain strong and the scrumptious sort of creepy I always love in a book.

Toward the end, I couldn't let go of the book because the unraveling of the mystery, somewhat predictable but also somewhat well-done, and a fight that pulled no punches and upped the stakes for Vulpi, the second book in the series. This is the kind of book that makes me sad it's exclusive to Australia unless you pay the often-exorbitant shipping fees or have a cool friend. How will I be able to continue it?

But oh, Thyla had its weaknesses too. The radical change in tone between the two halves was a little too jarring for me and Tessa's schoolmates, especially mean girl Charlotte Lord and her friends, were woefully one-dimensional. I do not like the word "bitch" and have worked hard to stop using it in the past few months in any form for any reason. Seeing it in books used exactly the way I can't stand will never fail to make me take points off. Yes, Charlotte and co. are terrible people who really need to be taught a thing or two about how to treat other people. No need to dehumanize them by calling them bitches and similar slang words all the time.

And then at the end, surprise romance! And I was kind of like, "Whut?" Not the "What?" reserved for the normal sort of strange, out-of-nowhere occurrences (I know that makes no sense, but bear with me), but the incorrect "Whut?" I use for the truly out-of-nowhere that isn't pulled off very well. Not that I hadn't seen it coming, but it was thrown in there so unnecessarily at the very end that I can't honestly say it doesn't bother me.

Sorry there, Cillian and Shirley--I couldn't pick a team between you after all.

4 stars!

What am I reading next?: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare