Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Faust Review

Another Faust - Daniel & Dina Nayeri
*August 25th, 2009 Candlewick Press

One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish - only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary “gifts.”

But as the students claw their way up - reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty - the side-effects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins.

At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

The dynamic duo of Daniel and Dina Nayeri has taken the age old concept of Faustian bargain and spun it around to crank out a modernized version that youth today can relate to. Another Faust is a captivating tale demonstrating the epitome of human desire and just how far one would be willing to go to obtain it. (Although knowing the Faustian legend could enhance the reading experience, it's not necessary per se, as the concept of "what you'd be willing to sell your soul for" is pretty universal).

Each of the characters are portrayed in a very intriguing light. They seemingly fit neatly into one stereotypical category at first glance, but they each have something special, a need, a burning desire, that transcends any attempts to categorize them neatly. At times [the five teens] do seem to be on a bit of a one-track mind, but this further augments the contrast with normalcy and how far Victoria, Christian, Bice, Belle, and Valentin have strayed from the norm. (Such beautiful names too!)

Madame Vileroy - quite the interesting creation! She's more than just a character, she's a concept, something that transcends time (both literally and figuratively speaking). Another really cool aspect of Another Faust was the little snippets showing instances throughout history where Vileroy played a role. Because the Faustian bargain idea has been around for ages; as humans, if we want something badly enough, would we be willing to sell our soul for it? Would you? Now, although the entire story is told in third person, each chapter focuses on a particular perspective (out of the five) which allows additional insight into the motivations of [the character], increasing the immediacy with the audience and credibility.

The supernatural aspect in Another Faust was dealt with nicely as well; it's not ostentatious or all pomp and circumstance. There's a more subtle tone to it, creeping into the story as easily as Vileroy creeped into the children's lives. It makes the story, the characters, more relatable to for the audience. At one point or another, haven't we all wanted to be the best, to win at a sporting event or extra-cirricular competition? Haven't we all wanted to score perfect on a test? Nayeri & Nayeri have modernized the Faustian bargain to a level where teens today can understand.

In terms of the writing, there were a couple of metaphors here and there that didn't make a whole lot of sense, but there was still something quite captivating about the diction choice. The pacing, the characters, the plot; all combined, Another Faust is quite difficult to put down. The ending was especially - Wow! It was unexpected, but a very nice twist, and left off with an important message, let's just say. Definitely does not disappoint.

The Nayeri siblings and their Another series are definitely going to be players to watch for.


Thao said...

What a cool book. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Bri Meets Books said...

The ending really surprised me! I linked to your review. I agree with you on how its a very subtle evil - I felt the chapter-opening scenes helped achieve that effect. And the characters were great.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. The book sucked. Its preachy and obvious. First there is no plot. We all know that the Governess is by the time we read the word "faust". She isn't cool enough to be the main guy downstairs, so we assume a hired hand. Thats about right. Second, its absurd that the two kids that escape because they don't know who the governess is have not figured it out in many years. After all, who else gives out magical gifts and changes your name to FAUST for Pete's sake? DUH???? In fact everyone in the school should have known what is going on with the "strange new kids". Even the janitors! So much for mystery. Third, again; The preaching. Its like a jewish mother telling you that you shouldn't worry about being pretty or popular. Whatever. Not exactly subtle. Besides, why not make better deals with the devil. After all, you could do better then the half assed gifts these kids got. I have never hated a book more. Its worthless. Interesting concept. Maybe that makes it worse. If they didn't do such a shit job someone else would have done it better. Its like Gothe's Faustus for retards.

Anonymous said...

Hi, very interesting post, greetings from Greece!

Anonymous said...

Hi there

Looking forward to your next post

Anonymous said...

Hey - I am really delighted to find this. Good job!

Anonymous said...

hi there every one - hope yous had a great time - pity we didnt get snow was all prepared wi sledges kids loving it any ways , all the best for 2012 -

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