Monday, December 17, 2012

Waterfall - A Review

This book was free for my Kindle a few days ago, and I have heard that several of my good friends really enjoyed it, so I decided to read it for the purpose of reviewing it for my blog.

Ordinarily I would not have read something that involved mystical (non-scientific) time-travel, and I was expecting to have to wade through a lot of mystic spookiness - which, to my surprise, didn't happen. There literally isn't any magic in the book besides the short sentences that describe Gabi and her sister Lia placing their hands on some handprints in a tomb, the room spins, and then they're in 14th-century Italy. So that was a small plus.

The prologue and first chapter almost had me putting down the book. The story is told from the perspective of Gabi Betarrini, a 17-year-old 'average teen girl'. In these parts of the book, Gabi was rolling her eyes and sighing in annoyance at having to accompany her mother and sister to an archaeological site "Where the nearest unattached boy happened to be 70 years old".
She was annoyed because her mother was an enthusiastic archaeologist and missed their deceased father so much she didn't pay enough attention to the girls. Those are the actual reasons given for Gabi being "irritated" "a bit grumpy" and "a bit put out". "Since Dad died... well, it was like Mom wasn't even in our galaxy at all."

Novels with a plot line like this that have a girl being annoyed with her mom are SO bad for me to read. It tempts me to feel annoyed and unhappy with my own mother. This may not sound like a big deal, but I believe it's important not to cultivate feelings of negativity towards our parents (mothers, especially), and books like this do not help.

In chapter one, we also hear about Gabi being unsatisfied with their "lame apartment furnished in orange and avacado green", and the town that was "not a happenin' place, lemme tell ya", having to rise at 5:00, "Basically, I was sick of it. I felt ignored. Used."

Reading stuff like this makes us start comparing our own lives to what they could be. We begin to feel unsatisfied with our 'lame' bedrooms, houses, places we live... family. We feel "Ignored. Used."

In chapter one, Gabi decides to drag her sister Lia along as she explores a tomb their mother has been excavating. Even though she knows she is not supposed to touch anything... "Mom will ground you for weeks for touching that" Gabi disregards it and on a whim, places her hand against another handprint on the wall. Lia, after coaxing, puts her hand in the print alongside, and then they're whisked off to another time.

Gabi lands in the tomb alone, Lia nowhere to be seen. Gabi makes her way outside, and discovers a very gory battle going on between two bands of men. She also happens to behold "the most handsome guy I'd ever seen, with a model's physique and a face to match. A serious hottie."

Excuse me while I gag.

I don't read many teen "YA" books, so this probably is tame compared to what's out there. But I didn't enjoy the way Gabi describes this young man.

Books that have 'perfect', 'adorable', 'sweet' "guys" in them make the feminine reader long to meet one of her own, if they don't have a significant other. And they encourage discontent with the real, living, breathing men in our lives. Real men with flaws. Real men who don't have perfect faces and forms... but who have been created by a living God who knew what he was doing.

We forget that we are flawed girls too, with not-perfect faces and forms, yet we desire perfection.

Once the scene moves into Medieval Italia, the plot takes off. To the author's credit, the tale is very interesting. The reader becomes engrossed with the happenings surrounding Gabi.

Gabi is a 'modern girl', so her view of the medieval world is easy to relate to for the modern reader. The way she is unfamiliar with her surroundings makes it simple for the reader to take in everything through Gabi's perspective and figure things out along with her. It's an ingenious idea for a character in an unfamiliar territory to the modern-day girl.

Early on in chapter one, we learn that Gabi knows how to fence, having been instructed in that mode of self-defense by her father. I braced myself for the inevitable warrior-woman action ahead. The book didn't disappoint. Or perhaps I should say it did.

Gabi fights with sword and dagger in a completely man-like way, and miraculously happens to save the lives of several of the 'perfect hotties' in the book. She is wounded and cut up and nearly taken advantage of by some unsavory men and somehow manages to escape every single time.

Girls, hear this: when we read books like this it makes us want to take over in our own lives. We want to be the 'man of action', not content anymore with merely washing the dishes and cleaning up after everybody else. We live vicarious adventure through the fictional heroine, fighting our own battles and winning all the glory, with the handsome knights there for show and to kiss us in gratitude at the end. This is so, so wrong. Men are the ones created by God to be the fighters, protectors, and leaders. And they don't fight their own battles all on their own, either - God is our strength and our refuge, and no victory comes without his help.

The 'plan' near the end of the book (supposedly thought up by the brilliant invalid older-brother character) to help win the day over the enemy castle, is laughable. It centered around one star player - Gabi. I happen to have brothers who love history and warfare, and while I don't know as much as they do about strategy and battles, I do know that you don't just open the front gates of your castle and let the badguys pour in, planning to attack them once they get inside. This part of the tale, contrasting with the rest of the action, was very weak.

One thing that bothered me especially was the fact that Gabi feels this 'deep, strong pull' towards, and feels 'incredibly understood and valued and known' by, Marcello... a prince who happens to already be betrothed to another lady.

Maybe this is a trend out there too? Falling in love with a guy who is engaged to somebody else? This is the second book I have read recently that had this story idea in it. I found it disgusting.

(**this review will come to a screeching halt while I defend Sense and Sensibility - Elinor Dashwood, a very reserved girl with good sense about her, had no idea that Edward Ferrars was engaged already, so the blame should fall on him for the confusion in that story. Thank you. **)

What effect would reading this story possibly have on a girl who 'kind of liked' somebody who already had a significant other? "Oh, well look how wonderfully everything turned out for Gabi and Marcello! I guess it doesn't matter that So-and-So has a girlfriend/fiancee/spouse, I can fall in love with him anyway!" Dear me.

Gabi is supposed to be an 'average, ordinary, modern girl', right? Well, every single 'guy' in the book found her wildly attractive and amazing. She was "so different" from what they were used to that she seemed 'irresistible'.
This makes the 'average' reader feel wonderful. "I'm just like Gabi", she thinks, and is thrilled to live a vicarious celebrity-level popularity through her.

In the end of this story, the girls are renowned throughout the country - called "She-wolfs" and "She-Warriors" and a huge crowd of people bows down in front of them at a festival in their honor and processes down a line to bestow beautiful roses and other blooms on them. Heady stuff, this. Also a tad blasphemous, in my opinion.

All of this I have to say about the book is hard to notice among all the gripping action, romance, and suspense. If you're not careful you would be swept along in the current of the great writing style and intriguing storytelling.

I hope this review is helpful to you in deciding whether or not you want to read the book. I felt like I should share my own thoughts on the story, and so I have.

Have a blessed day!


  1. This is a wonderful review. Even though I've never read this particular story, you've now convinced that I wouldn't want to. :) Thanks for the Biblical perspective on this book!

  2. Thank you, Abby! I'm glad you liked the review. I appreciate your comment! :D



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