I don’t usually do book “reviews” until my end of the month wrap-up, but I’m afraid Franny Billingsley’s Chime is just to amazing to hold off on. I’d heard bits and pieces about Chime on Twitter and a few book blogs, but I didn’t know a lot about it. Then I wandered into my local New & Used and the owner (who has excellent taste) recommended it. I wasn’t sure it was for me, but I took a leap of faith, bought it, read it, and LOVED it. So for today’s Friday Five, I present you with five reasons Chime is an exceptional novel.
1) Briony Larkin, main character extraordinaire. Briony is as imperfect as they come. She avoids creating emotional bonds with anyone and everyone who inhabits her strange little town of Swampsea. She freely admits to being angry, jealous, and prideful, and she makes no apologies for her behavior. It’s because of this that I totally and completely fell for her. She’s smart (or as she would say, clever), very quick-witted, and her inner monologue is introspective and at times utterly hilarious.
2) Eldric, romantic interest you’ll definitely fall for. Briony refers to him as a boy-man (he’s twenty-two!) and often compares him to a lion (tawny hair, “curling” smile). Eldric is a self-proclaimed bad-boy, but really he’s just a free spirit, creative and at times a little childish. But he’s so adorable with Briony, loyal and sweet and eager to please. Despite his somewhat questionable affections for another supporting character, you’ll be rooting for him and Briony until that first steamy kiss–and well after.
3) Rose, peculiar twin sister. I loved Rose. She has all sorts of odd little habits and her social interactions are certainly abnormal (I’m no doctor, but she seems to exhibit Asperger’s-like behavior), yet she’s steady, predictable, and totally likeable. There’s more to Rose than meets the eye. The further I read, the more fascinating I found her.
4) The language… Oooh, the language. Warning: Do Not Read Chime While Drafting. Or Revising. Or Even Editing. Read only on a writing mini-break or you will feel dreadfully inadequate. Seriously… Franny Billingsley is a genius. She spins some of the most beautiful phrases, strings the simplest words into gorgeous sentences, paints vivid images that get in your head and stay there. Her descriptions are full and unique and perfect. The swamp, the characters, the magic, it all comes to life on the page.
5) The experience, one to be savored. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Chime isn’t for everyone. It’s a genre-blender (a little bit romantic, a little bit historical, a little bit fantastical, and a lot of just plain strange) and as a commercial kind of girl, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. Still I recommend you give it a go. Chime isn’t a book you will breeze through, flipping pages quickly just to see what happens next. No, you will want to read Chime slowly, sinking into its swamps, soaking up its narrative. You will want to delight in its language, relish in its metaphors, and absorb its brilliance. For me, Chime wasn’t just a story; it was an experience, and I sort of want to read it again. Already.
Happy Friday! What are you reading this weekend?