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Review: The Emerald City by J.A. Beard

Title: The Emerald City
Author:  J.A Beard
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: VBT Tour
Format: E-book
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N/ Smashwords

Blurb from Amazon:
When her parents die, teenager Gail Dorjee retreats into an angry, sarcastic shell. She hopes it will ease her pain, but all it gets her is a one-way trip from Kansas to a Seattle boarding school, the elite Osland Academy.

As soon as she arrives, Gail clashes with Diana, the leader of the school’s most powerful clique. The Winged make Gail’s life hell until she find allies: her airhead roommate; a cowardly fellow victim of the Winged; and, bit by bit, Diana’s boyfriend–the seemingly heartless Nick.

Gail soon has bigger problems than Diana. One of her teachers hates her. Glasses shatter and fountains erupt around her. She can’t swear no matter how hard she tries. An unseen force is keeping her on campus. And worst of all, she uncovers a plot that will give one person a precious gift at the cost of thousands of lives. Now Gail and her friends must stop the plot–not just to save lives, but to win a brain, the nerve, a heart and a home in this modern urban fantasy take on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

What I love: The use of quirky quotes. “The personality of a serial killer crossed with a sponge”

I love this book. It was an interesting take on the classic Wizard of Oz. It fused the yellow brick road (that was mentioned briefly) with the modern world. And used a troll as the disguise for “the man behind the curtain.” No red slippers were used but it was still a great read.

The characters are fun and entertaining. Gail Dorjee is a much stronger Dorothty and actively tries to help her friends (even when they weren’t friends at that time). Lydia is the Scarecrow, quite obvious with the nickname of Brainless, but she says these awesome misconstrued quotes such as  “Charlotte Bronte said, ‘I try to avoid looking
forward or backward and try to keep looking in Utah.’” (26) and “‘God has given yourself one face, and you make yourself a tiger’” (21).  I find them to be funny because they are moments that say what? Utah? I don’t think Utah was a state when Bronte was around but I could wrong.  Leandra is the Cowardly Lion with her being so afraid of everything. Nick is the Tin Man by being emotionless.  I love that the evil Flying Monkeys are represented by the Winged clique. I love those monkeys.

What I found was interesting is that good side is pretty much determine but the bad side is not. At any given time, there were multiple individuals who could stand for the Wicked Witch because that’s how good the writing is. It makes the reader question who is the Wicked Witch because it’s not just one character feels  that can fulfill this role. Diana is the antagonist to Gail but then another person could be the villain of the story as well. The villain identity has this transferability that makes the story interesting because we are not certain who is the witch until the end.

The whole concept of the Rift Watchers was really interesting. It was carefully woven into the novel as well.  The Rift Watchers can use magic to stabilize Rifts in the world, which are centers of power. Gail is water, Lydia is plants, Leandra is earth and Nick is metal.  The school isn’t meant for everyone to learn about the rifts, it’s more like the school draws magical people to it. I have Buffy in my head so the rifts remind me of the Hellmouth where it completely collapses on itself at the end of the series but before that, it tended to draw people to it. It is sort of what the rift would have done if it have collapse.

Overall, I really like this novel. It does a great service to the original book and this manages to be original by itself. I don’t like the fact that the characters cannot cuss but I won’t deduct a half butterfly for it. It makes it interesting and adds to the mystery of the Academy.

5 BB- Total Keeper


21st in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, Self Published, Where are you reading?-Seattle, Washington

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of The Virtual Book Tour Cafe’ and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by The Virtual Book Tour Cafe’, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book’s publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*