Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Water Castle

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

An amazon summary before I start in, "Ephraim Appledore-Smith is an ordinary boy, and up until his father's stroke he lived an ordinary life. But all that changes when his family moves to the Water Castle-their ancestral home in the small town of Crystal Springs. Mallory Green's family has always been the caretakers of the Water Castle-and the guardians of its secrets. She has been raised to protect the legendary Fountain of Youth, hidden on the estate grounds. But ever since her mom left, she's stopped believing in magic.Will Wylie's family has been at war with the Applegates for generations, all because of the Water Castle's powerful secrets. But Will has rejected legend and magic, putting all his faith in science. When Ephraim learns of the Fountain, he's sure finding it can cure his dad. With Mallory and Will's help, the trio embarks on a mission that brings them deep into their families' shared history, through every secret room in the Water Castle, and on a quest that will blur the lines of magic and science, creativity and discovery, leaving readers left to wonder: Do you believe in the unbelievable?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So I've been sitting on this book for a while because I'm entirely unsure what can be said about it.

On one hand, I'm all, "Man this was good." On the other hand, "Ugh, what did I just read?" In my brain, "Whoa now, was this a giant allegory of all religions/myths can be explained through science; we just have to keep trying until all can be explained?"

Yeah, this gets a little complicated.

I'm completely convinced that their is a giant hidden moral message in the book, but I'm not exactly sure what it is. I really want to say that myths, religions, beliefs are very important, but it's more important to seek the real truth with science; but that doesn't seem quite right. I'll talk about the book and maybe you'll see what I mean.

Price, Ephriam, and Brynn's father have a stroke, and in order to seek better treatment, the family moves into the Water Castle in Crystal Springs. The mother describes Crystal Springs as a tourist sort of destination, but we (the reader) are kind of redirected from the town as a whole and are forced to concentrate on how the general populace of the town is supremely smart, stronger, etc than the average person. We (the reader) are also pointed to focus on three different families and the Water Castle itself. The Appledores, the Wylies, and the Darlings.

The Appledores are the ones who purchased the Water Castle and made a business on the rumors surrounding the water of Crystal Springs. The Wylies claimed that they found the water first and should have been the ones to make the business from the water. The Darlings are the ones who were contracted to make the Water Castle. So they're all interconnected.

Now there's an interesting ripple effect with this story as the author gives us flashes into the past that concerns a son of the Appledores, a daughter of the Darlings, and a daughter of the Wylies. If I have to spell it out for you, LOVE TRIANGLE. Because no young adult fiction seems to be complete without them (I can say that because Percy Jackson, Twilight, and The Hunger Games have all done it. I know there's probably a giant list of them somewhere, but these are the most notable/relevant to me at the moment). I'm not entirely interested in discussing the 'past' sections as they don't reveal anything particularly interesting. It's kind of there, illustrates what Crystal Springs was once like, and really develops the understanding between the three family's feud. That's about it. Enjoy.

So anyways, Price and Brynn are coping to an extent with their Father's stroke while Ephriam kind of wigs out and avoids the Father completely. The Mom is a nice supporting character, but doesn't play a major role in any sense; neither do any of the adults they're just kind of cardboard props that talk sometime. Ironically, Price/Ephriam/Brynn's Father is probably the most important adult in the story, yet he cannot speak, move, or interact much with the story at all. He is the driving force behind Ephriam's enthusiasm to find the fabled Fountain of Youth.

This book is totally about the Fountain of Youth in case you missed that. All about it. Seriously.

So the siblings explore the house a bit and notice it's really weird even though it's a castle. There are rooms in places where it doesn't spatially make sense that they exist, there are rooms that don't make sense at all. The siblings kind of unanimously agree that whoever designed the castle was a bit loony. Price automatically disregards the Fountain of Youth and concentrates on what is real and what he can actually work on or do to make things better. In a sense, he refuses to become lost in the dream. Brynn takes a cautious approach with it as she doesn't seem to want to believe, but is exploring the data on the subject and kind of helps in that manner. Ephriam is like, "OH MAN, FIND THE FOUNTAIN, FIX FATHER, WINNING" and that's basically all he's got. He's mildly focused on school in the sense that he expects to do well, and be the best student, and blah blah blah because he was a good student at his previous school.

Crystal Spring's schools are really advanced, so Ephriam kind of comes off as dumb to his classmates as he doesn't know any of the material they've been studying. Regardless, he manages to awkwardly befriend Mallory (the daughter of the grounds keeper for the Water Castle) and Will (who isn't really a friend until later).

The story all kind of twines together to portray a family trying to deal with an unexpected illness, struggling through the myths and facts to discover what's truly worth believing, and through the snippets of the past - the view of the insatiable spirit for knowledge is portrayed while tangling three families in a feud that lasts for generations. Really, the feud is between the Appledores and the Wylies, but the Wylies despise the Darlings for being in the Appledore's employment, so the Wylies are basically the obnoxious part I suppose.

I don't know.

I still have a lot of mixed feelings on the story as half of it seemed like it wanted to be about discovery, yet it seemed to be mostly a mystery because they realized what they were trying to find was discovered before and it becomes a sort of treasure hunt.

It's a rather complicated story.

However, I would like to say that the story was a little slow for me in the pacing and became a little bit of struggle to get through at some points simply because I kept shouting, "I GET THE POINT, BUT I CAN'T SKIP TO THE NEXT CHAPTER BECAUSE I MIGHT MISS SOME OBSCURE CLUE. GAHHH".

I also kind of liked the Author's note at the end because it was pretty sassy.

Happy reading!

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