Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley: just read it

Hi! So, I haven't quite finished reading this yet, and you know I don't do real book reviews anyway but just strong recommendations, so here is a verrrry strrrrrrrong rrrrrrrecommendation


It is a thing of beauty. A marvel of unique prose-craft, unusual characters, odd voice, carefully constructed storytelling. It makes me want to hug it, and a little bit it makes me want to hide it because I am haunted by the gorgeous gorgeous writing and I kind of wish it were mine.

Here's Amazon's description, but honestly, the description alone isn't what made me pick this up. It was the buzz, the look of nearly religious fervor in the eyes of the bookseller who put it in my hands. When booksellers get that look, you listen.

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment. 
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

Accurate that may be, but some books are about so much more than the nutshell, and this is one of them. Really. Really really. Read it. Here's another link for you if you don't feel like scrolling up. Or hey, it's Saturday. Go to your local indie bookstore, have some coffee, buy this book. It'll be fun, and then you don't have to wait to start reading it.

Okay, so you may have heard the terrible kerfuffle about the National Book Awards nominations this year, and Chime has the misfortune to be caught up in that mess. I actually just wrote a recap here and then deleted it because I don't even want to muddy up this recommendation with that debacle. The only thing that matters is this book highly deserves the nomination (which is not to say Shine does not; it isn't a competition between the two books, merely a big mistake), and though I haven't read the other nominees, I can't help but really pull for it to get the gold. (Go fantasy!)

And one other thing: it irks me that the publisher hasn't updated the Amazon page with the NBA seal and more editorial reviews. They can do that, if they want to. Come on, Dial! How about some love for your awesome book! (Ahem. In fact, the publisher of Lips Touch never updated the cover image to include the silver seal. Sigh. Maybe some publishers don't know how to do it? Little, Brown has been great about updating the Daughter Amazon page with new reviews, etc. Dunno.)

UPDATE (Sunday): 

Finished it. Loved it. Might even read it again right away for more luxurious enjoyment of the language. You know when you want to know what happens next, sometimes you race a little bit? Also, since I shouldn't really be reading right now, having a deadline to attend to, if I'm reading something I've already read I'll be less likely to dilly dally with it when I should be writing :-)

If I do reread right now, I'll flag favorite bits, which I did not do the first time. I have a feeling there will be a lot. Also: the relationship in this book unfolds so richly, which such detail and delightful interactions, it really is a rarity. The characters are so fully drawn, from the narrator to Rose (I LOVE Rose) to Eldric. And the name Tiddy Rex. And the magical world ... And the setting ... And the brownie and the dead hand and on and on.



Sarah said...

Yup. Read it. It's awesome!

Anonymous said...

I just put it on reserve at my somewhat local library. I need something beautiful to read right now!

Michelle said...

I actually just picked up both Chime and Daughter of Smoke and Bone from the library and am now in an intense struggle over which to read first. I'll gladly take suggestions.

It's rare that I have such a bounty of awesome ready to devour, but it's really true. So many good books. Someone needs to add more hours to the day.

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Ohhhhh this sounds deeeeeeeelicious! Thank you.

Gentle hugs,
"Be like the sun and the meadow,
which are not in the least concerned
about the coming winter."

~ George Bernard Shaw

Evie said...

Read it, thought it was great. I have an online "friend" on Goodreads and Shelfari and she recommended Lips Touch and I couldn't thank her enough for introducing me to your writing. When Chime was released she sent a message: "Fran Billingsley reminds me of Laini Taylor. Thought you might me interested." That was all the nudge I needed.

The voice is odd, but I'm all for the odd. The different. It's a flavor I devour.

BJ said...

That is going on my list. I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but as an artist I have a hard time caring about a book the auther didn't care enough about to get ready for company. I think that's why I like your stuff so much *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

Tristy said...

Just added it to my wish list. I have a massive pile of books to read, including Daughter of Smoke and bones, but am always looking for new ones. Thanks Laini!

Rachael said...

Oh my gosh! I LOVE this book! It keeps your head cocked to the side in interest until it starts to reveal itself. Absolutely absorbing. I'm a big fan of The Folk Keeper as well, one of her other books. It's the same breed of fascinating!

Jenn said...

I think you're right that the synopsis doesn't do it justice. I was kind of 'eh' about reading it but with some recommendations and hearing about the beauty of the prose I'll definitely look into it now.
I was pretty upset with the whole NBA thingy and just picked up "Shine" from The Strand, it's been getting more attention because of the mistake than "Chime" has which is unfortunate for Franny. But I agree that more Fantasy should be considered in these noms and hope that more authors and readers show their fave books love despite the kerfluffle (love that word).

Holly said...

I liked this one a lot, too. Gorgeous writing, creepy/beautiful world, AND a love story i can totally stand behind. :)

June G said...

I have Chime on the shelf but haven't gotten to it yet. Evie, above said her friend said "Fran Billingsley reminds her of Laini Taylor." Now I HAVE to read it! I'm telling everyone and their grandmother about Daughter and the other 3 books you wrote--even though I've only read Daughter so far, but the other are now on my bookshelf :-)

Melissa said...

Funny to come across this here. I had the same reaction to DoSaB as I did to Chime.
Both wonderful stories, full of texture and color! Simply marvelous!

Evie said...

Readers can''t help but fall for Eldric.

The water creature (i forgot its name) that gathers itself into a wave to to talk to Briony on the bridge-so very cool.

Rhian said...

Oh, this isn't available on the Kindle (in the UK, at least). How silly! I hope the publishers amend that soon, it sounds great (and I know I am much more likely to read books on my Kindle than paper ones, these days). Thanks for the hot tip :)

Life is Good(ell) said...

How serendipitous- Daughter and Chime were side-by-side on the Lucky Day shelf at the library this morning so I scooped them both up to recommend to the moms at storytime. (This is a big deal, by the way, because Multnomah County just added YA titles to the lucky day circulation and there aren't that many yet!)

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

I read this on your recommendation and absolutely loved it. She does something with words that reminds me of "The Book Thief". I wanted to go back and reread passages just to see how she managed to create such magical verbiage. Thank you for pointing me in her direction.

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