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Andromeda Klein (2009)

Andromeda Klein (2009)
Author
Rating
3.29 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0385735251 (ISBN13: 9780385735254)
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English
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publisher
delacorte books for young readers
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Andromeda Klein (2009)
Andromeda Klein (2009)

About book: Frank Portman was the cat’s literary discovery of 2012. King Dork had so much going for it, one of those absurdly delicious books any 16-year-old with a knack for rebellion should read. Needless to say, when Andromeda Klein landed on the cat’s desk, she was giddy with anticipatory excitement. Little did she realize this would be the only book this year that she’d repeatedly put down, and wonder whether to continue at all…But then guilt snuck in, this is Frank Portman, dudes! Inventor of characters nicknamed Chi-Mo! OK, so page 138, one more effort…another 100 pages, but if the dense writing about magick and occult swords and 93s and St. Steves and what have you, keeps on obscuring the plot (I’m sure it’s there somewhere!) and more importantly, the cat’s reading enjoyment, the cat is totally calling it quits… Frank Portman or no Frank Portman!Enter page 415… OK, so there’s a Lexicon??? Dude, you might have said that in the beginning! OK, so I totally got that Andromeda’s hearing impairment took over at some parts of the book and those ‘misunderstandings’ are just another feature of her being one weird cookie, but still, all that occult babble, just sounded like “Bla Bla Bla, Bla Bla, Bla, Blab la blade blaba …“ after a night of insomnia to the cat. I mean, what to think of it when you get something like: “The other cards in the spread were mostly small cards, bristling with swords, though the King of Pentacles in the “hopes and fears” space might allude to – had always seemed to allude to – St. Steve, who was certainly a hope and a regret, if not exactly a fear. There he was, staring at her with A.E.’s sad eyes as Pixie had drawn them. It was hard to decide how to relate A.E.’s court cards to the Golden Dawn’s Book T attributions, but if A.E. Kings corresponded to the Golden Dawn’s Princes rather than to the Knights, then he was also, apparently, Emperor of the Gnomes.” (p.34) Huh??So … Andromeda is one seriously weird chick. Not weird as in your average YA teen character “I’m a different geeky sort of outsider” weird but “seriously alienated and nothing in common with the rest of the human population whatsoever in this universe or the next” weird. She doesn’t like any of the music her contemporaries listen to, but instead she’s into medieval troubadours and composers like Guillaume de Machaut. She is the kind of person who’d rather take “inventory of the room and imagining all the possible ways in which these objects could be used to commit suicide” (p.158), than strike up a meaningful conversation with you. She’s obsessed with occultism and now that her best friend – who wasn’t really her best friend – Daisy has died of leukemia, she struggles with her magick and sees weird omens everywhere (swords, dreams…) . Also, her tarot reading is just giving her all sorts of weedgie vibes. To be honest, the story only starts to get interesting once Andromeda meets Byron who she more or less takes on as an apprentice. The problem here is that we’re almost on page 200 or so before the two of them meet, so it’s a whole ordeal to actually get to the good parts…But once you’re there you can see that beneath that weird exterior Andromeda is … well, still weird, but in essence a very insecure little girl who doesn’t quite know how to get into contact with her peers, even though she would like to very much. She has formed these very tentative “friendships” with people like Rosalie van Genuchten (I seriously wonder how you’d pronounce that in English!), who – for all intents and purposes – is just a manipulative bitch.Anyway, am I glad I did stick it out until the end… Mèh, I guess so. Didn’t want to be called weak or anything. Will Andromeda Klein make the best of 2012 list like King Dork? Never! Andromeda Klein is definitely different from any YA (or other) book you’re likely to read any time soon. It has one of the most bizarre main characters the cat’s encountered in a long time. Also, the writing is likely to be off-putting for a lot of readers. It’s almost impenetrable, which doesn’t really do all that much for the plot, which now gets even more obscured – as if the subject matter itself wasn’t enough already! A for effort for sure, but still… after King Dork, saying the cat was disappointed is the understatement of the year!

This book is really quite something. First of all a YA book that isn't typeset like a freshmen trying to make their paper longer. Second a YA book that doesn't dumb down the writing. While these are not unknown (octavian nothing springs to mind), I find them rare. In fact, this book elevates typical teen speak to good writing. About a young teen occultist, whose library is oddly stocked with esoterica (the dewey number 133 makes quite a few appearances). The pictures of early 20th century occult writers and writings is so well done I am not sure whether his characterizations are true or false, or whether several of the are real or not, or if the books exist. If they do a bibliography would have been nice at the end. He does an excellent job of getting into the mind of a shy teenage girl and her less savory friends. A lot of the writing style centers around the main character's hearing problem, her tendency to replace phrases with random ones that are similar, these phrases enter the "lexicon" and are used throughout the book. It takes a bit of getting used to, and I was like hey there should be a glossary, so of course when I turned the last page of the book, there it was.Yes like everyone it was a little hard to get into, I don't know anything about tarot. He throws you into Andromeda's mind with her vast knowledge of the occult and her own lexicon. It takes a bit to sort things out, but once you do it's worth it. It was not what I was expecting. I would have loved a little bit about tarot etc to explain some of it to me. The book reads a bit like a mystery novel. A couple issues with the characterization of libraries! A lot of the plot revolves around Andromeda's job as a page at the Library, and that the magic books are being weeded and sold on e-bay by the friend's of the libary. First off, yes it is explained why the library has super old books... but i still find it so unlikely as to strain credulity. Second stop making weeding seem like a bad thing, it is very important! Also no one just weeds everything not checked out without a second look. Also there is no such thing as staff checking, clearly a plot device so books Andromeda has checked out will remain without a checkout. Also updating the computers etc so that people actually come to a library is a good thing, though an awesome collection of occult books should be turned into a special collection, that would make the library better. Also probably they should be made non-circulating.
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Reviews
Elizabeth
Andromeda Klein is a teenaged occultist whose love of the Art is matched only by her love of books. As she starts a new year at high school, she has a lot going on: her companion-in-esoterica Daisy has died, her estranged boyfriend St. Steve is inconstant, her parents are difficult, her body seems intent on sabotaging her, & the library where she works is getting rid of a bunch of books she loves. As Andromeda pinballs between home, school & work, she contemplates her troubles & the eerie coincidences that keep popping up in her tarot readings. Her intuition tells her something is up.Andromeda is a familiar character to me: she's bookish, has weird hair & smells books. After my desire to give her a hug & some big-sister encouragement passed, I really wanted to sit her down & talk to her about bibliophilia & the occult. (I kept wanting to show her my Haindl deck.) Portman's knowledge of these two subjects gives this coming-of-age story a unique voice. But while these interests flavor the text, it also detracts some from the story. I agree with my friend who recommended the book to me; there is almost too much going on & events fly by. Andromeda's relationships with Daisy & St. Steve are given some definition early in the book, but for most of the novel are just made up of Andromeda's yearnings. Her book-saving program is interrupted despite the fact that there might be some conflict with the estate that donated the materials--a plot point that's not really resolved. Our heroine even banishes a few demons, but it's seemingly all in a day's work for her.While AK is an interesting character, readers might struggle to get the measure of her connections with others, which is a major theme in the book. But, Portman's novel is still an enjoyable, captivating read. I kind of wish this was a series, either as text or a graphic novel, because there's a lot of potential here.
Sharon
Frank Portman wrote another YA book, and it's almost as good as "King Dork." I really feel like he has an uncanny knack for the teen voice, and from page one the reader is sucked into Andromeda's world, including her terms for the various things that make up her day to day life, like the International House of Bookcakes and Afternoon Tea. At times, this, as well as the incredibly detailed descriptions of Tarot cards and magical rituals, threaten to overwhelm the narrative, but they do help the reader fully enter her world. I can relate to many aspects of Andromeda, from the trouble hearing people to her mousy shyness to her desire to save books being weeded from her local library, but mostly in the desire to be liked and accepted, and yet still stand apart from the high school norm, that Portman's heroes seem to share. I love how his main characters can be total outcasts in high school and still look down on people for mis-pronouncing things like "Alestier Crowley."
Teen
An unusual story about a most unusual girl. Andromeda Klein is a hearing-impaired teenaged occultist who sees almost every coincindence as a "synch," or a message from the mystical unseen forces that steer the universe. Andromeda's never been particularly good at reading these signs and communing with the spirits. Her friend Daisy was a much more gifted medium. But now Daisy's dead and Andromeda thinks her spirit is trying to communicate something very urgent -- but what? Andromeda can't quite seem to figure it out. It doesn't help that her mom is stalking her every move, her secret older kind-of boyfriend has gone missing, and at the little library where she works part-time, all of her favorite books of magic are being sent to the so-called "Friends" of the Library. This book will probably not appeal to most teens. It's very slow-moving and chock-full of references to obscure 19th-century magicians and arcane rituals that will probably annoy most readers and drive them off long before they reach page 200, where the action finally starts to pick up a little. Portman has an ear for teen dialogue, and the interactions between Andromeda and her teen peers ring true. Plus, Andromeda's "gift" for mishearing phrases is often amusing -- Andromeda hears "naked girl magazine" as "bagel worm agony." However, these qualities probably aren't enough to capture and hold the interest of most teen readers. Mixed reviews from professional sources. I wouldn't booktalk this one to general audiences, but I think there may be certain teenagers out there who will absolutely love this book. I'm just not sure who they are.
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