Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The River of Time Series: Waterfall

Lisa T. Bergren's new book, Waterfall is a teen romance, set in medieval Italy. Gabi and her sister Lia are tired of spending their summers with their mom at archaeological sites. They long for a modern city, with boys. One morning, out of boredom, they decide to investigate an ancient tomb, even though they risk contaminating the site. When the girls match their hands to hand prints within the forbidden tomb, the world spins and Gabi wakes up to find herself in the middle of a sixteenth-century battle.

Gabi's jeans and tank top create almost as much of a stir as her emergence at dusk from amongst the tombs. She is quickly rescued by handsome, chivalrous warriors, who are just slightly older than she is. Of course, she is most intrigued by Lord Marcello Forelli, the probable heir to the castle and the only warrior who is already betrothed. Her fascination with Marcello, (and his with her), puts a damper on his upcoming wedding plans. However, Gabi is intent on finding Lia, and trying to blend into the world of sixteenth-century nobles. Marcello's friend Luca teaches Gabi to dance, and Gabi shows Marcello's brother, Fortino, how to treat his severe asthma.

When Gabi learns the enemy Patore clan has captured Lia, she vows to do everything she can to rescue her. Marcello and Luca help her execute a daring plan, but in the end, it is Gabi's fencing prowess and Lia's skill in archery that save the day. However, Gabi is wounded in battle, and has to be stitched up by Lia. The girls become known as the "she-wolves of Normandy," and a feast is given in their honor. Marcello tries to convince Gabi he loves her, while Lia tries to convince Gabi to return home. In the end, Gabi's decision is made for her. The doctor treating her wound poisons her, and Lia convinces Marcello to return them to the tombs. They hope they can transport Gabi to the twenty-first century and save her.

Once the girls are together, the hand prints work, and they wake up in their own world once more. Gabi is miraculously healed of poisoning and her battle wound, but her heart will not heal so easily.

In the "Interview with the author," at the end of the book, Bergren explains she decided to write Waterfall after she read the Twilight and Hunger Games series with her teen daughters. She wanted them to have "something they could hand to their friends, as well as read themselves."

What I Like: This is a fun, light read. In between battles and court intrigue, we keep wondering, "Will he express his feeling or won't he?" and "Is he going to kiss her or isn't he?" There are also some funny and believable moments when Gabi puts a dress on backwards, puzzles over how to dance, and is stressed about having to use a chamber pot.

Gabi's family does not attend church much, but she still is drawn to the idea God must have called her back to medieval Italy. After a while, she decides she needs to make the most of each day, even if she can't find Lia or her mom. She spends her time helping Lord Fortino (Marcello's older brother) deal with severe allergies and asthma, and reading Dante with him. She also proves her loyalty and bravery, by helping the Forelli clan, despite the risk to Lia, who is held captive by the Patores.

What I Dislike: First of all, there was a bit too much slang for me. Gabi says things like, "fantasizing over an Italian hottie," which will make the book seem dated before long.

Second, Marcello and Gabi's attraction seems superficial. Certainly, he is attracted to her free spirit and ability to fence, and she is drawn to his chivalrous attitude and warrior's physique. However, Gabi seems to have much more meaningful relationships with funny and helpful Luca, and Lord Fortino, who becomes a trusted friend.

While the book works well as a mainstream cross-over, and girls could give the book to non-Christian friends to read, there isn't much of a message. Gabi wonders if God called her to medieval Italy, but the only clear good she does is helping Fortino treat his asthma. Series like and The Hunger Games and Twilight make you think much more about issues like abstinence, violence and sinful nature.

Overall Rating: Good--I wish the Christian message would have been stronger, though.

Age Appeal: Young Adult (15 and up)

Publisher Info: David C. Cook, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-4347-6433-1; Paperback, 384 pages, $14.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $11.99

OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $9.99.

Special Info: There is one scene where an enemy soldier captures Gabi and begins to untie his trousers, before she is rescued. She reassures Marcello he did not arrive "too late," but only narrowly missed being sexually assaulted.

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Kate {The Parchment Girl} said...

Too bad this wasn't a terribly deep-thinking book. I personally would prefer a secular novel that prompts philosophical and moral questions than one that doesn't, even if it is slightly more Christianized. I thought the Hunger Games was great in that regard.

Erin said...

Thanks Kate, for your comment. I think I am with you. I like books that make you think and evaluate truth. . . this is primarily fluff, but would work for escapist pleasure reading. :) Erin