Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Wilfair by Alysia Gray Painter

Fair Finley is a hotel heiress who runs the famous Hollywood hotel the Wilfair. She dresses like a 1940s film star, but has not yet come into her own as a hotel magnate, despite her parent hopes. She tends to over-apologize via fruit baskets, and can't get the nerve to steal the neighboring motel's swimming pool. That's right. Her famous hotel, where each floor is a different design, from Rococo to Story Book, lacks a pool--a terrible oversight in Los Angeles. The problem is the motel owner's happen to be a pair of handsome cousins (with loose ties, rolled up sleeves, and distracting, attractive forearms). Fair doesn't have many friends, and these two, both named Montgomery, seem ready to be friends and have adventures, but stealing a pool from potential friends is tough. Not to mention weird things are happening at the already wacky Wilfair-- ghosts are acting strange, physical places are switching places, and the tar pit between the two hotels, a tourist attraction, has been smelling of Paris and baking bread. Something is up.
To remind you: Wilfair by Alysia Gray Painter has the best. blurb. ever. "Strange things happen, adventures are had, feelings are felt, and cheese dip is eaten."

This, my book-loving blog friends, is a Quirky Book. But, as you know, I like Quirky Books (example A, example B). I was pretty much cool with the quirky plot AND quirky narrative form (which is told from Fair's perspective). There is so much packed into this little book! Her little twin brothers run the famous 500 Dip Bar, which means we are treated to lots of discussion of dip, and they seemed to be a play on the creepy twins from The Shining (let me know if you think this, too!). I enjoyed that Fair was a person trying to find herself and learning to use her quirks to her advantage. And Fair's weirdness is kinda refreshing. I knew we would be friends when she made T-Rex claws and Raaaawwweeed at someone. 
  • Originality: 9. This book is incredibly creative, but sometimes the new quirks fly by so fast its hard to catch them all.
  • Absurdity: 9. BUT this book is supposed to be absurd in a magical realism kind of way. (Its not accidentally absurd in a feather-petting/ insta-love kind of way). The surreal qualities coming in increments and make you want to know more. How can a fitted sheet be shaped like London? How can tar bubbles smell good?
  • Level of Paranormal Romance. 1. Fair does not fall in True Love with the Montgomerys within 72 hours. That is NOT how she rolls (who KNOWS how awkward she would be with some lip contact). But it is a nice change of pace to the general YA out there, and I hope hope hope for something to swoon over in the next book. The foundations are there, and expectations are high! 
  • Level of Harry-Potter-ness: 5. I think people will be divided about the very fanciful writing style of this book. Painter makes up words (sometimes I found this confusing) and uses some wacky metaphors. Once in a while I wanted a calm moment to collect my brain and enjoy the whimsy. By the end, however, I either got used to it or things calmed down. My biggest complaint about the book was at less than 200 pages I was left wanting more plot development. I feel like we had just approached the meat of the mystery when the story ended; I learned the world and the lingo, and then things wrapped up. Nooooooo, give me more!
Overall, I was charmed by these people and am bee-lining toward the sequel, Redwoodian. If you need a good laugh and lighthearted antics, get involved!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy Alysia Gray Painter. Happy reading followed. (We do not accept or receive compensation for reviews at YAF and WS.)

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