Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review & Blog Tour: Strings by David Estes

“A wonderful retelling of the Pinocchio story… I simply couldn’t put this book down.” Rysa Walker, bestselling author of TIMEBOUND

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Sometimes the strings that tie us down are the same strings that set us free.

Sixteen-year-old Pia has always lived in a mysterious facility where mechanical strings control her existence. She plays apprentice to her father, Gio, in performing nanotech designs for the Company, and she soon suspects there are diabolical human forces behind the manufactured reality of her world.

Though her childhood memories and the origins of the strings remain strangely elusive, she begins to find solace with the introduction of two unlikely friends: daring, irrational Sofia, and calm, tender Marco.

As the truths of the past and present unravel together, Pia must find a way to free herself from her strings and escape the facility before facing the wrath of the unstable head of security, Mr. Davis. But to gain her freedom, she must navigate the dangers posed by Davis and by her suspicious new friends to find the real identity of the puppeteer.

If Pia can succeed in revealing the secrets of the Company, she may very well find the independence she so desperately seeks. But in her controlled world nothing is as it seems, and the closer she gets to the truth, the graver the consequences.

I'm so excited to be doing my very first book tour for an author who is super amazing: David Estes. For those of you who don't know, I run a group on Goodreads called We Heart YA Books. I "met" David through my group when he joined it and stood out to me as one of my few regulars - joining in on book discussions and welcoming new members, etc. He is still a very active member in my group, but he also has his own official fan group: David Estes Fans and YA Book Lovers Unite. I love his group because it's probably the most active group I've ever been in and there are a ton of super nice, absolutely hilarious bookworms. It's easily my favorite group on Goodreads. So shameless promotion there, go join the fan group - you won't be disappointed!

I have all of David's books on my TBR and *ducks in hiding* hadn't read one of them yet until the opportunity to read Strings came along. I have so many books on my to-be read list and I'm struggling to read much of anything lately. But I really wanted to show my support for David and signed up to read Strings before its release date.

The very first thing that intrigued me about Strings was that it's a gender-bent retelling of the Pinocchio story. Pinocchio was never really high on my list of favorite stories. I can remember dreading watching the Disney movie at daycare when I was in elementary school - it seemed like we watched it allllll the time. However, I could not see how a retelling would be bad for Pinocchio. There are so many elements to be twisted and I knew that it was going to be good. I was absolutely right. From the get-go, Strings is dark and sinister. Pia and her father, Gio, are imprisoned by the Company and forced to work on nanotech on an extreme and tight schedule. They are constrained by mysterious black strings that are controlled by someone watching their every move. If Pia gets out of line, her strings become red and violent - and if they don't violently correct her, the powers that be take their anger out on her father.

The Company has tampered with Pia's memory and she begins to recall bits and pieces of things slowly but surely through the story. Amnesia is another favorite element of mine and I love how things unravel as characters remember things that others do not want them to remember. Pia is a very strong-willed female lead. She cares deeply for her father and her best friend, whois a little nanotech creature her father created called Fig. He's mouthy, but cute - and is 100% devoted to Pia. Fig was my favorite character, I think.

From the very beginning of the story, I was hooked. David's execution of this retelling was flawless. The characters were rich and, especially with Pia, there was a lot of character growth from beginning to end. I very rarely highlight anything while I read on my Kindle, but there were many beautiful passages and I just had to share some of them:

"I'm a marionette maneuvered by a skillful and indifferent puppeteer, jerking me around without regard for the pain it causes."

"The harshest lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

The truth is, I am a doll. When I'm not being used they stick me on a shelf to gather dust. They take me down to play with me, pulling my arms and legs in ways they're not meant to go. Ways I don't want them go. My actions are not my own. My life belongs to those who control my strings. I am a doll with a stitched mouth, melancholy but exhausted beyond true sadness. Sometimes I feel like even less; like I'm not a real girl. Like I'm more like Fig than I thought, someone's creation. Used, tired of, and eventually thrown out. What is real? Am I real if my body is not my own? Am I real if I have no right to choose my own destiny?

The answer is no."

I have a few more that I saved, but they are spoilers, so unfortunately, you'll just have to read the book yourself to catch more of David's beautiful writing. ;) Even though this is a retelling of Pinocchio, it was different. There were twists and turns I didn't see coming and characters who I didn't know if I should trust or not. It was not a predictable story and I enjoyed that very much. Thank you to David for allowing me to join in on the blog tour fun and for providing an eARC for me to review!!

David Estes is the author of more than 20 science fiction and fantasy novels that have received hundreds of thousands of downloads worldwide, including The Moon Dwellers, Fire Country, Slip, Brew, and his new SciFi Pinocchio retelling, Strings. He lives in Hawaii with his inspiring Aussie wife, Adele, rambunctious son, Beau, and naughty cat, Bailey. When he's not writing, you'll likely find him at the beach swimming, snorkeling, or reading under an umbrella.

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