by Laurie Halse Anderson
YA historical fiction. 316 pp.
Simon & Schuster. 2008.
As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight . . . for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.
I picked up Chains because it's one of the NBA finalists. I was looking forward to it because of its author. Unfortunately, I find myself grossly underwhelmed by it.
For starters, I just wasn't able to connect to the story or Isabel. I realize that part of this is because the protagonist is a slave and is, therefore, unable to effectively control her own life. Typically with a story like that, though, you are able to connect a bit more with the protagonist's character and thoughts, but I found that to be lacking even. Plotwise, it was slow. In terms of supporting characters, I feel the book lacked nuance; characters were either good or they were bad. I guess you did get some middle ground with the minor minor characters, though.
On the plus side, the voice seemed unique and consistent throughout. And the typesetting is phenomenal. Actually, the typesetting is really the only thing I feel is truly worth commending this novel. Otherwise, truth be told, it was just a female version of Octavian Nothing, which holds the distinction of being one of the more boring books I've ever read.
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