I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Published by Dial Books on March 22nd 2016
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
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 is lying.
You know what, guys? I’m a little tired of publishers pushing these mysterious synopses on us to try to build hype around a book. Like, it worked well enough with We Were Liars until it backfired a bit, but it seems like there’s a book every month or so trying to repeat the success of that campaign. “Oh, go into this book knowing as little as possible. That’s the way to do it” only works for certain books…and certain people. The campaign for Wink Poppy Midnight seems to be taking this approach, but I am here today to give you some insight into what this book is really about…and if you should read it or not.
So if you want to go in blind, click away! Avert your eyes! But if you want to know more, read on. As a bonus, you can also WATCH on, because I’m embedding my video review here as well for those who love a different format.
As it says in the blurb, this is a book about three unique characters:
Wink is the archetypal earth mother character. She is a homeschooled red head who lives on a farm and reads a lot of fairytales with her many siblings, whom she refers to as “the orphans.”
Poppy is the archetypal villainous mean girl. She’s beautiful and intimidating. She has a posse called The Yellows who all do her bidding. She uses relationships, including sexual ones, to manipulate people.
Midnight is caught between these two women. He used to be Poppy’s neighbor, and she would crawl in window to sleep with him…and then disappear. Now he and his father have moved across from Wink’s farm and he’s building a friendship/crush with Wink, which makes Poppy impossibly mad.
The storytelling is done through all three first-person perspectives in rapid-fire short chapters. The first half the novel is about character development, where Wink introduces the fairy-tale notion of who she views as the hero and villain in the story of her life. However, the reader feels a significant disconnect from the characters, even with the first-person narratives, because the never feel honest and they never feel like they are telling the whole truth.
At the mid-point of the novel, the plot, conflict, and action of the story become more apparent. A cruel prank takes an unexpected turn and the characters are left confused and scrambling. This is also the point where I just lost all sense of who was telling the truth, what had actually happened, and even what genre the story actually was. There were moments when I thought it might go the routes of psychological thriller, paranormal thriller, after school special, or just plain ‘ole coming of age tale. Of course, I’m not going to tell you any more than that because I’m not going to spoil the heart of the book, but do know that this may leave you turning pages just to figure out WTF is even going on.
In the end, I though this was a good book and an excellent exploration of the expectations placed on adolescent females. We have expectations of who Wink and Poppy are based on their appearances and how other characters view them, and I think these characters feel trapped by the restrictions the world places on them…and the restrictions they place on themselves. It’s no accident that the author sets the to females up as archetypal opposites to one another. In particular, I found it interesting how the sexual experiences Midnight has with both girls were juxtaposed against each other.
Even though the final outcome of the story did not wow me the way I wanted it to, I was still pleased with the journey of reading it. This is definitely “weird” YA that doesn’t give easy answers and holds many layers of meaning. Some readers may be frustrated by the ethereal, fairy tale-like nature of the storytelling, but there will be just as many readers who appreciate a story that makes them work for an understanding of the details and themes.
FINAL GRADE: C
This story was what I expect it to be, and I enjoyed my reading experience. It might have earned a B if it had packed a few more surprises in the ending and if it had more universal appeal. However, this is the perfect read for the more sophisticated YA reader and fans of dark fairy tales.