Released: November 22nd 2013
Source: Review copy from author
My tale has been told again and again, and I’ve heard each one. Except for my hair, I barely recognize the pitiful renditions. Muddled versions, crafted to entertain laughing children…but the children wouldn’t have laughed if they’d known the real story. It wasn't their fault. They didn't know the truth. Nobody did.
My name is Rapunzel. I will tell you my story. I will tell you the truth.
This book has a beautiful cover and a beautiful synopsis, but left me floundering when I was barely a quarter in. I had expected much more of My Name Is Rapunzel. I did not have the easiest time writing this review; I’ll section it so that it’ll be easier for everyone to process.
Undefined goals. It's extremely frustrating to have a main character and villain who both do not have defined goals. In the traditional fairy tale, Rapunzel is held captive in a tower by a witch. Gretta is the witch in this story. However, Gretta's ulterior motive for keeping Rapunzel captive is not clear until the 80% mark in the story. I was constantly distracted by what Gretta wanted exactly from Rapunzel, as nothing more was given except for a rough idea. I was reading page after page and hoping that Gretta's motive would be stated clearly, but it wasn't stated for most of the novel until I was 89% through with the book.
Rapunzel's father places her in Gretta's care in the hopes that Gretta would one day reverse the curse on his daughter. Doesn't sound like a good plan. Gretta doesn't stand to lose anything by not removing the curse. If I were cursed with immortality and lost the love of my life, I would have committed suicide or tried ways to kill Gretta instead of living for 250 years in a castle with her (which is exactly what Rapunzel did). Rapunzel wasn't actively searching or trying all means and ways to escape from Gretta. All she did was grumble about having to live with “that witch” for 250 years without any fierce struggle, based purely on her father's hopes that Gretta would remove the curse one day. In the eyes of any villain, one day is the equivalent of fat hope. The logic doesn't make sense at all. And most times, Gretta just disappears into the background.
Characters and writing style. The tension created in the prologue was pretty awesome. However, the first chapter didn’t build up much personality in Rapunzel for me to connect with her. The chapter starts off with Rapunzel panicking about her first kiss with Henry and whether he would dump her if he found out that "no man had ever before found [her] worthy of affection". The writing was exaggerated in Rapunzel's POV and didn't give me a likeable impression of her. It was totally absurd because Rapunzel actually thought that her true love would be shallow enough to judge her based on a single kiss.
As I read on, I got more and more annoyed by the writing style of Rapunzel’s POV. She asks too many unnecessary questions which comes off as very childish. There’s an average of 4 to 5 questions on every page within the first chapter, and I counted 8 of these questions on a page in Chapter 2. The questions consist of things like "What did that mean?", "Why now?", "Who was that?", "What now?". One paragraph even had 4 questions in it:
Should I go to Henry's parents? Or to my home? Where would I find help? Even as I asked myself, I knew the truth. There was no help to be found. I was on my own. After all, who could help against forces such as these?
It was a major turnoff for me, hearing the voice in my head read out so many questions like an annoying child. Rapunzel runs around like a headless chicken whenever something bad happens. I couldn't feel for her or Henry at all even when disaster struck. Henry didn't have any depth to his character and I felt like I should feel bad for Rapunzel, but I didn't. The first time I felt for a character was in Chapter 5 – for Rapunzel's mother. It's not a good sign if I'm actually feeling more for a supporting character than the main character.
Gretta doesn't seem like a complete villain. Her villainous side appeared when she first cursed Rapunzel, then it disappeared during the 250 years with Rapunzel. Gretta is totally un-villainy after that until the last 15% of the book, and hardly poses a real threat to Rapunzel (I’ll discuss this further in the plot holes section).
Jenkins. Ah, Jenkins, the skeptical reporter. He wrote a newspaper article scoffing at fairy tales and also ridicules Rapunzel's famous hair. Rapunzel reads it, gets hopping mad and decides to write him her autobiography, letter-style. The flashback-like writing style of the letters is very poor. The letters don't sound like letters, they sound like a novel within this novel. It's ridiculous how Rapunzel bothers so much about what a stranger thinks of her. At this point, it's almost half the story and Rapunzel's goal is still undefined. Even if her goal is to make Jenkins realise she's real, the stakes are not high enough. When they meet, Jenkins' character suddenly undergoes a 180° change overnight and they both take to each other a lot. It was not believable at all, given how skeptical Jenkins is and how Rapunzel detests him. All seems to be forgiven just because Jenkins is handsome.
Also, I cannot feel anything for Luke. He's a useless character who lets his wife push him around.
Major plot holes. There's a dragon which has lived 250 years with them. Up till the last quarter of the novel, it isn’t clear whether Gretta controls the dragon or vice versa. Rapunzel's convinced that the dragon "protects" her and wants her "safe" when all it does is fly around and roar. Unless a nightly candle is lit in her tower, the dragon cannot rest as that is the only way it knows she is “safe”. On one occasion Rapunzel tries to run from the castle, but the dragon “caught her” just by roaring, because it hadn’t seen the candlelight. The dragon doesn't seem to actually be able to stop her, so Rapunzel could still have left. Jenkins gives Rapunzel an electric candle and that’s it, problem solved. It's so absurd. Rapunzel would have been able to acquire an electric candle without Jenkins’ help as she knows how to use the Internet on a laptop to go online shopping.
Gretta is not a real threat at all to Rapunzel, being easy to kill (Rapunzel did not kill her). Rapunzel could've set herself free if she had a weapon and a moment alone with Gretta. And Rapunzel had plenty of those opportunities to kill Gretta throughout the 250 years!
HUGE SPOILER ALERT
(FURTHER PLOT HOLE EXAMPLE)
I don’t like to include major spoilers in my reviews, but for My Name Is Rapunzel, I simply have to in order to show you how flawed the plot is.
Henry is the dragon. And he’s been that dragon flying around and roaring and supposedly keeping Rapunzel “safe”, when he doesn’t really do anything at all. We find out that Gretta cursed him so he would be a dragon for all time except for “mere moments of time” as a man. If Henry should lay eyes on Rapunzel’s face, he will turn back into dragon form.
Now, we only find this out at the 83% mark of the book. At 85%, Henry reveals himself to Rapunzel in a manner that would have been possible at the very start of his curse, but he chose to do that only at the end of the book. The solution to his problem was very simple and the stakes had not been high enough. Also, other solutions would have been simple, such as writing a letter and sending it to Rapunzel when he was in human form. He needn’t have waited 250 years. The whole thing was incredibly ridiculous.
~ END OF SPOILER ~
BOTTOM LINE: The synopsis of My Name Is Rapunzel sells the supposed true story of Rapunzel, and so I felt that this novel had a lot of potential. However, the characters really lacked depth and the plot was full of holes so laughable, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The story did not flow or move forward well. Seriously, don't waste your time on this one. Not worth it.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are solely my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born and raised in Aurora, Illinois I spent my childhood climbing trees and playing street games with the neighbourhood kids. I was a proud tomboy, until the day I didn’t want to hike the land to an old graveyard. From that point forward I was considered a “girl”. At the age of seventeen I moved to Kentucky and eventually began to raise a family of my own. Having worn several “hats” my life has been an adventure all on its own. Still, to this day, I yearn to be a mechanic and own a pink toolbox with pink tools. I can usually be found updating my website, reading great books, watching awesome movies or creating videos for my YouTube channel. Most days I crave Diet Coke, pizza and chocolate, in no particular order. I don’t read scary books or watch horror movies… I’m way too scared! Lol.