Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri - Review by Rissa

Welcome to the Marlowe School, where some very gifted students are having a hell of a year.
One night, across four cities, five children disappear. Years later, five enigmatic teenagers appear at an exclusive New York holiday party with their strange but beautiful governess, Madame Vileroy. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust children to the elite Marlowe School, where their presence brings unexplainable misfortune.

Using a series of “gifts” given to them by Madame Vileroy, the children are able to soar to suspicious heights at Marlowe. The gifts seem child-like in their simplicity. The governess teaches them to cheat, steal, hide, and lie; ‘harmless’ she calls them, though they are much more. For the vicious over-achiever, reading an unsuspecting mind is simply to cheat. For the reclusive pariah, the gift of stopping time is just another way to hide. And who but an aspiring writer can weave a convincing lie?

Soon, Madame Vileroy’s gifts become darker and more complex. Living in a gray home designed to cultivate and corrupt them, they are enveloped in the side effects of their own addictions. They live cursed lives, making deals with the devil as they claw their way toward their goals….that is until two of them begin to uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. A modern retelling of an ancient dilemma, Another Faust recreates the story of the Faustian bargain. Set in present-day New York, but spanning the centuries, it is a chilling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

I am going to start off by saying that, this book and I? We're not amigos. I was so excited to read it (I feel hook, line, and sinker for exactly what the ancient cliche warns of; "Don't judge a book by it's cover," but I'll get into that in due course.), and I was so incredibly disappointed. First of all, the idea of an elite school for incredibly gifted students is trite, to say the least.
"But Riiiiii-ssaaaaaa, you said that about Vampire Academy!"
Yes, I did, but I also went on to prove that the story has many redeeming qualities (one major one in the form of a Russian instructor, but I digress ;) ).
One might find themselves questioning exactly what the title means. I know I was, and it took some research for me to properly define "Faust," but when I did the story made a lot more sense, and I really do give the authors major creativity points for tying this in. According to Google and Wikipedia (which I credit way more than I probably should) a "Faust" is a sorceror who sells his or her soul to the devil. However, as it often happens, they find that they have made a fool's bargain and have given much more than they had ever imagined.

I fell for it.

As I said before, I saw this book in the bookstore and fell in love with the gorgeous cover. The teens are portrayed as lovely, elegant people and I felt that such a beautiful cover had to mean that this story was pretty flipping awesome. Alas, I was deeply grieved to find that it wasn't. I will say that the cover art is gorgeous, but it does not at all refect the odd story I found inside.


The characters of this book are the aforementioned five teens and their guardian Madame Vileroy. Vileroy is the oddest woman I have ever read about, because I felt like I could see what the authors wanted her to be, but I didn't feel like they successfully completed her character. She is the evil enabling mastermind behind the children's "gifts." However, I really didn't understand the background behind her character, and in the end I really don't know what happens to her! I knew she was giving them evil talents, but to what end?
Llet me sum up the kids in a paragraph, for fear of making this section even longer than it already is. Victoria-- I hated to love her. She was conniving and would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. Belle-- Pathetically understandable. She wanted to be beautiful. Bicé-- I liked her character a lot because she was smart enough to figure it all out. Sure, she fell for the tricks like the rest, but she was able to overcome. Valentin-- I wanted to punch that conceited jerk! I also didn't feel that his character was well developed, very one dimensional. He wanted to be the perfect jock/ladies man, but in reality he was nasty and obnoxious. Christian-- hmm. I know I was supposed to favor him (based on his role towards the end of the story) but like Valentin, I don't feel that I know much about him!


The book goes into how these five kids, Bicé, Belle, Valentin, Christian, and Victoria, were each kidnapped from their homes at a young age and brainwashed by the mysterious and diabolical Madame Vileroy and mysteriously gifted by her with seemingly incredible talents. However, every rose has it's thorns, and these "gifts" are not what they seem. The kids may seem to have everything it takes to live the perfect life, but the real question is whether or not the ends jusify the means. Vileroy has an alterior motive and her outer kindness is not her true nature.
I had mixed feelings about the children, as the story goes Vileroy goes out of her way to help some, but others she does not favor. Bicé and Christian in particular are unaware of a some bigger plan that Victoria, Belle, and Valentin are all involved in. I reread parts of this book over and over and I really do not understand the "why?" behind this favoritism mystery.
Overall, I would sum up the plot by saying that I think I understand where the authors were trying to go with the story, but they never quite seemed to "get there," which left me with a big sense of incompleted-ness.


I honestly cannot tell you what happens in the end of this story, because I really don't feel like it actually closes at any point. There is a form of escape, but I don't feel like Bicé, Belle, and Christian ever actually accomplish anything and "save the day" so to speak. There is a form of a happy ending, but it really depends on how you look at it, I'm going to call it bittersweet.

In conclusion, I was very disappointed in ANOTHER FAUST. I expected great things from the book but from the incomplete details to the confusing ending I cannot say I enjoyed it whatsoever. Therefore, I can only give this book ♥♥ It did have an interesting concept, but I didn't feel like the concept was carried well throughout the plot.

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