SPFBO 2018 entry Cardboard Castles by KL Young
Firstly, my SPFBO reviews are not intended to be discouraging feedback for the author. This is only one reviewer’s opinion and should be taken in the context of the contest which is that reviewers on Booknest were assigned books by our EIC and not chosen based on any particular tastes of the reviewer in question. I think to have written a book is a monumental achievement and I hope that all SPFBO authors continue to work on their craft and share their stories.
For me, this entry, is a mixed bag of successes and failures. Cardboard Castles is told in the first person perspective of our primary character, Josilyn. We are drawn in to a suburban setting in our modern world where we see her struggles with being a foster kid and caring for her mentally ill father. Eventually though, worlds collide as we discover that there are other worlds and that Josilyn and her father have stories that go beyond their current real world predicaments.
I believe that the first person perspective is one of the things that worked well though it wasn’t executed perfectly. Seeing as how there is a YA sense of pacing and focusing on emotional relationships, being in Josilyn shoes helps the reader to empathize with her situation. I also think that the underlying world building has some great ideas that appealed to me in that they alluded to stories grander than the one being told in the present moment.
I only wish that the story would have more quickly moved to the fantasy world and had remained there more often. For my own personal preference I found that the continual return to ‘our world’ seemed to break up the pacing and confuse the reader on what characters and dangers were important.
Overall, I personally didn’t enjoy this book though I also recognized that this was due partly to not being the intended audience. I do think that if some of the story and character moments had been ‘earned’ in a way that made more sense to me that I would have enjoyed it more.