Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (@apriltucholke)

Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Published: Dial Books

My Rating:

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

I’m not strategic in my reviewing process. I sit at the computer, in front of a blank doc and try to form enough of an opinion to push out a few words. But, with Wink Poppy Midnight it’s taken me ten minutes to get to this point because only one word springs to mind when I think about this title: weird.

Good weird or bad weird?

I’m still not sure. Wink Poppy Midnight is a tale bordering mythical realism, that’s vibrantly colored in poetic prose. Typically, I would love this. Verse writing is artful and purple and makes me happy. We Were Liars was one of my favorite books last year and after seeing the writing style comparison over and over, I was stoked to pick up this book. However, it didn’t always work for me here. The repetitive use of verbs in dialogue, the characters picking up each other's speech pattern and thought process… It became confusing, and despite the chapters being broken respectively into the POVs of Wink, Poppy, or Midnight, by a third of the way into the book I found that they all ran together. Maybe that was the point. After all, the book’s tagline is, “A hero. A villain. A liar. Who's who?” Maybe this was Tucholke’s way of asking us, her readers, to figure out ‘who's who’. I just felt like a lot of plot was sacrificed for the sake of being artsy.

That said, I didn't hate it. While the characters weren’t likable; Poppy, a cruel Regina George carbon copy; Wink, a strange gypsy who prefers fantasy to reality; and Midnight, a hormonal teenage boy with no backbone, there was something about this story that kept me from putting it down until I'd devoured every word. The summary was a bit misleading. I went into this expecting a love triangle, but this wasn't that. It was a twisted tale of fanaticism, lies, neglect, and teens behaving badly. I'm still not sure the timeframe over which this spanned. It's felt like a lot happened in just a few days for these kids, but I could be missing the mark. This is simply one of those books that makes you go, “hm”.

Would I recommend Wink Poppy Midnight? I think it would take a certain type of reader to appreciate this book. If you're okay with confusion and surrealism then yes. I think lovers of The Merciless or Burn for Burn would absolutely love this. If you're looking for something like We Were Liars or hate poetic prose altogether then I suggest steering clear.

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