Monday, March 9, 2009

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

Annika Truman desperately needs her kid brother Jeremy, who has a brain tumor, to believe in the power of positive thinking. So, to inspire him, she goes out and buys the rapidly selling out Robin Hood (his favorite show) action figure. Then, instead of just giving it to him, she tells him to wish for something—anything—and that she can guarantee it will come true. Of course, Annika’s covered her bases. She knows he’ll be asking for that Robin Hood doll.

Except…he doesn’t. He asks for the star of the show to come and visit. And Annika’s got to make sure it happens, and that it happens fast. With his surgery as a deadline, she sneaks off to Hollywood. The way she sees it, if Jeremy’s wish doesn’t come true, nothing will make him believe he might get his medical miracle.

And she’s just not having that.

I definitely got the sense from reading that Janette Rallison knows how to set up camp, build a fire, entertain with marshmallows and stories, and leave discreetly. This is a good example of an effective high-concept novel that works. With the cute packaging, I had a gazillion people asking me what it was about, and being able to feed them a one line premise* and actually pique their interest was awesome. It’s strong hook matched with strong storytelling, the combination of which resulted in an entertaining and above all engrossing read.

Now, I don’t say this only because of the plot, because—yay, repetition—I need good characters 95% of the time, too. I mean, here, it was just all so lucid and effortless—quick characterizations that made sense and worked for the novel, and a lot of cute quirks (we’re talking about a premise centered on Robin Hood—how is that not quirky-cool?). Annika, for instance, isn’t at all needy or static like you would think given the circumstances. She’s got spunk and she takes LA to town with it, pushing through barrier upon barrier to get what she wants. She’s driven by her love for her sibling on top of it, which makes her that much more sympathetic. She rocks.

Now… oh, gosh, how I loved this book when I began it! But. It must be said that I always think an author is playing with fire when they choose to play the celebrity card. It’s hard to make me buy a storyline in which the stars descend upon the mortals and sparkle and all, and I thought the book lost a lot of its grace by forcing what I thought was unfeasible—even for the context—down my throat. There’s even a little romance that sparked between Annika and Robin Hood actor dude and, well…

Look, I really enjoyed this novel. I just thought the way it progressed toward the end was taking the easy way out. The ending in question, however, was definitely not “easy”—it was taking the road less traveled, and for what it’s worth, I think it took a lot of bravery from the author. The sincerity of Annika and Jeremy’s relationship touched me, and while I have conflicting views on some of the plot devices, there’s absolutely nothing to find at fault about that. C+/B-

* “A girl promises her younger brother who has cancer anything he wishes thinking he’ll ask for a certain rare toy, but then he asks for the lead character from his favorite show to come visit him and she needs to find a way to make it happen.”

Putnam | 272 pages | March 5th, 2009 | Author Site | GoodReads | IndieBound | Amazon | Other Retailers

Further: The cover story

22 comments:

Saundra Mitchell said...

The more I hear about this book, the more I wonder about why they chose that cover. Does the image fit into the actual book at all? In any way? (Besides the whole "wishing on dandelions" thing that we're all supposed to know about- I just found out about it this year and I'm aged!)

Adele said...

Another great review - I am waiting for another spiteful Kiss My Bookish review though :)

Not sure if this is my kind of read but you have piqued my interest definitely.

Steph said...

Saundra, I think they were just trying to be pretty. I got this in a 20 book batch from Penguin (bless Penguin) and I was initially attracted by the cover that promised a fun-sounding story. After finishing, yeah, it's not much to DO with the book, but I gotta say, even being the total ditz I am with visual stuff, I can't imagine what an appropriate cover for this would look like. If you follow the link on the original post to Melissa Walker's cover story post, you'll see the alternatives, all of which SUCK.

So I guess they went with the lesser evil? Hmm.

Steph

H said...

I'm getting interested in this one. And the cover attracts my attention whether or not it actually fits the book.

bermudaonion said...

Since I've read books with plots similar to that, I think it would have to be done really well to work.

Amee said...

Yay a new review!

I know you told me a while ago I'd probably like this book, but now I think I really would too! Not that I didn't before, I just didn't have as much to go on then. ;)

Kate at ReadThisBook! said...

I want to read this book VERY badly. :) It sounds really good!

Bookworm said...

This was last week's Waiting on Wednesday....and now I want to read it even more! It looks so sweet and fun...and I love the adorable cover!
Nice review (:

Priya said...

Great review! This book looks so cute.

Elizabeth said...

I like how your reviews manage to be specific without being spoilerish; that's a tough line to walk.

Mishel said...

The cover is great, a shame it doesn't have much to do with the book but that's alright. I liked your review. It definitely makes me want to read it, so mission accomplished (=

Nora said...

This book sounds cute and I definitely want to read it, but I know what you mean about the potential pitfalls of using celebrity.

Rory Wilson said...

hey i love your blog and to prove it heres an award
http://bookwormextraordinaire.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-love-your-blog-award.html

Bookgirl said...

Good review!


I nominated your blog for the I Love Your Blog Award. You can go to my blog to get your badge, and the rules on spreading it.

Happy reading :)

ALEXA YOUNG said...

Awesome review...and I'm looking forward to reading this one, too.

Donna said...

The Count says you have one award waiting for you at Bites. Ha ha ha!

Jen said...

I really like that cover.

^_^

Senfaye said...

I nominated you for an "I Love Your Blog Award"!

-Senfaye :)
http://amazeofbooks.blogspot.com/

Janessa Abigail Martz said...

I am 14 years old, and I just started this book today. Upon finishing it I had to share my thoughts on it. This was one of the best books I have ever read. I fell so in love with all of the characters, the plot. I am not one who has ever cried at a movie or from a book before. But this book caused tears for me. It was so touching and an amazing story. I would definitely recommend it for any person. Truly a special book.

Anonymous said...

is there going to be a sequel? I loved this book hope she makes a sequel to it.

Anonymous said...

Is there a sequel to this book I loved so much hope there is a sequel.

Sarah said...

This is the best book in the world! I just need to find 3 good quotes from it for a project!

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