Oranges and Lemons

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

As a 29 year old reader, I really got into this book and found it hard to put down. It would be even more perfect for an audience aged 10-15 though!
The story is well written with loveable (and some not so loveable) characters, and an exciting, pacy storyline. It is a modern ghost story that will have even reluctant readers hooked!!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Well-plotted, original, and reasonably researched without letting history overshadow story or feel pedantic, Oranges and Lemons is a massively enjoyable novel. 
The manner in which Jessifer and Adeline are brought back and forth in the story is very effective. There is a strong and clear sense of place, and the minor characters are tangible and interesting: because of this, I wanted more of them, particularly Jessifer’s friends - they were all such realized characters that they deserved more in the story. 
The way contemporary technology comes up is natural and expected; this is something that many recent timeslip stories fail at, but Andrews handles it adeptly. This is also true of the way she sets out the Victorian bits of the story - they’re credible, and Andrews gives just enough detail that a curious reader has someplace to start if she wishes to read more about the period. 
My only real complaint is that I didn’t find Jessifer’s backstory necessary - it didn’t ring true for me, and the orphan trope is a tired one  in children’s and YA fiction. Instead of bumping off her entire family but not conveying the impact adroitly, Andrews would have done better, if tragedy was integral - I don’t think it was, Jessifer would’ve been just as compelling and solid without earthshattering loss - then something that would’ve been less visible in the weave of the book as a whole would suit better. 
All in all, this was a terrific read, and I look forward to more from Paula Andrews. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5 stars. I really like the concept of this book and the story overall. It was told from multiple points of view, as well as partially in present time and partially in 1863. Most books that do this either clearly label each chapter so the reader knows immediately whose POV they are reading, or has a very clear, predictable order in which the chapters/POVs are presented. This book didn't do that, so sometimes the flow of things seemed a bit choppy. The story was interesting enough to keep me reading and the POVs became easier to follow the deeper into the book I got, as I got to know the narrator's voices.
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This was an atmospheric read. Enjoyable for young adults and adults alike. Now I want to read more from this author.
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I received an advance reader copy in return for an honest review. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Mid-1800s. Victorian England. A six-year-old girl named Adeline plunges to her death from the second-story floor of the house she lives in.

Present day. England. Fourteen-year old Jessifer (Jess) begins to notice strange things going on around her; antique scales moving on their own; an old envelope containing an invitation to a party at a place that no longer exists; and perhaps, most frightening of all, a young girl dressed in white, who no one seems to be able to see but her.

After the little girl first appears to her, Jess becomes more and more obsessed with finding out who she is, and why she’s appearing to Jess in the first place.

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*sighs* Okay. I wanted to like this. I started out liking this. But the more I read, the more frustrated I got. The one - or rather, two - bright spots in this book were Adeline and her mother. Adeline is a little ball of energy who practically worships her elegant, beautiful lady mother. Her mother, in return, dotes on Adeline, and tries to have a hand in her upbringing as much as she can, rather than leaving all of that to a nanny.

That’s...where things start to go downhill.

I feel like some things were repeated more than they should have been, which became a little tedious after a while, and there were a couple of things that I had questions about that had no explanation. I also thought that there were a great many sentences that ended abruptly, that probably could have been combined with other sentences.

I found myself enjoying Adeline’s part of the story more than Jess’s, especially when the latter started getting steadily more obsessed, but seemed to be making no progress in her investigation into Adeline’s fate and her appearance a century and a half later. At times, Jess’s sections seemed to drag on with nothing significant happening. Unfortunately, that’s also when I started to lose interest in her character; she begins lying to friends and family, skipping school, picking fights with people she cares about, and sneaking out of the house. All the while, she starts slowly losing her mental and emotional stability. 

It’s not until a third of the way through the book that she finally starts making a little headway into what’s going on. Then it’s not until the last third that she stops putzing around and buckles down with what she’s doing. Kind of. Even then, she frequently goes off on tangents asking the same questions to herself over and over, and finding reasons not to do the things she knows she needs to do to help Adeline.

A new plot thread pops up during the third act, as well, adding yet another subplot that I wasn’t sure really needed to be there. There was already enough going on, especially with Jess doing very little of her own volition, and seems to be waiting for the answers to simply fall into her lap.

Towards the end was where things were really starting to draaaaaaaaaaaaag. Normally by this point in a book, the climax has arrived and all hell is breaking loose. Not so in this case. We get an appearance of a character who really has no reason to show up. His only purpose is to pop up in front of Jess, say “You can do it!” and then peace out.

Then we proceed to stampede through the rest of the book like a drugged snail dragging a cinder block.



***SPOILERS***

I have so many questions… Why could Adeline travel through time however she wanted? How could she do that? Why could Clementine do it? Why could Jupiter do it? What was the purpose of Tom’s appearance as a ghost? He contributed absolutely nothing. Why did Jess insist on running up the stairs to try and get to Adeline instead of standing beneath the balcony and just catching her as she fell? Why was Jess so obsessed with going back in to get her phone, when she knew it didn’t work?

None of the timeline makes sense towards the end. Adeline’s ghost in the present is solid, and knows everything that’s going on. But when she’s back in her time, she’s a grey, translucent ghost that can barely interact with anything. How did alive-Adeline know all about Jess if dead-Adeline didn’t even know who Tom was, let alone Jess? Why was Adeline so fixed on Jess in particular? She’s not the only one who went to Mulberry Hall, and she’s not the only one who can see Adeline. She could have picked any one of them, and they probably would have gotten a hell of a lot more done than Jess did. If Dr. Laythorpe can also travel to the future, why is he still grey and translucent? He’s almost certainly been dead for more than a century, so shouldn’t he have more substance? For that matter, why does Clementine not have more substance than a colorless cat? She’s been a ghost just as long as Adeline.

The whole not-really-a-plot-point Judith really had no reason to exist, either. The only significance in that is establishing that Jess’s immediate family died when she was young.

And then there’s Mrs. Mills, who works at Jess’s school, and whose name I kept forgetting, because that’s how important she was to the plot. Why was she even a part of this? That whole subplot could have been cut out and nothing would have been lost except a few pages of pointlessness. Her plotline doesn’t even really kick in until the last few pages. There is one last appearance of Tom, but his role could have been played by anyone else. The Mills subplot disappears, literally, so she gets written out just as randomly as she was written in, with no explanation whatsoever about what happened.

And in the end, what came of all of this? A newspaper article, an amateur play, and a memorial tree.

What a disappointment.
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