Advance reader reviews of Madapple by Christina Meldrum.

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  • Published in USA  May 2008,
    416 pages.
    Age range: Young Adult

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  • Judy (Marysville OH)

    Non-compelling characters
    I liked the structure of this book--alternating between (1) a present day murder trial with Aslaug, the main character, as the defendant, and (2) the unfolding story of what really happened leading up to the trial. And I liked the plantlore in the first part of the book when Aslaug and her mother gather and subsist on plants and herbs alone. We learn a lot about the properties of wild plants. Truly fascinating. But ultimately I didn't care about any of the characters. Their actions and dialogue are stiff and opaque. They are like game pieces being moved around a very rich and intriguing gameboard. I hope the writer can bring her characters to life in her next book.
  • Maryanne (Spanaway WA)

    Interesting, but...
    Although Madapple is a compelling read, I just can’t give it more than a 3 rating. Parts of it are beautifully written. The research is extensive and impressive. The structure of the book adds to its appeal – present day court scenes alternated with past-tense narrative. But there is very little, or unexplained, character development. I found I just didn’t care much for any of the characters. Some of the themes of the book are very interesting (i.e. the botanical), others are pretty extreme, especially for a teen audience. Parents should be aware of the radical religious content before recommending this book to their teens. Better yet, parents would be well-advised to read Madapple before or with their teens. I didn't really enjoy this book. The premise was interesting, but the book itself was somewhat disappointing.
  • Ginger (Chandler AZ)

    This was an average read with an unusual and provocative kind of plot. Much of the time I was disturbed by the subject matter. If this is meant for teen readers I am surprised. It was definitely geared toward a mature audience. I thought switching from the courtroom scenes to the story was clever. In fact, the courtroom scenes were what kept me reading. The character development was not up to what I would call "in depth" and the conversations between characters did not add clarity to the plot.
  • Heather (Brooklyn NY)

    Provocative, Disturbing, Brilliant
    Very suspenseful and involving! I was fascinated by Aslaug's life: her profoundly disturbed mother, her abrupt immersion into civilization as we know it, and her coming of age amidst accusations of murder. She is a brilliantly written character.

    The author's scholarship is impressive, but better yet she is excellent at portraying empathetic characters. I felt great compassion for Aslaug as she struggles emotionally, psychologically, and physically with her search for connection; she has some heavy monkeys on her back for a fifteen year old. She also has great intelligence, perseverance, and courage.

    I would absolutely read this author again (I couldn't put Madapple down once I'd begun it!), and plan on sharing my copy of Madapple with members of my book club. Madapple is controversial, haunting, and illuminating ... highly recommended.
  • Cheryl (Tucson AZ)

    I don't usually read Young adult books as this one is listed as such, it did interest me though. It's very different from a regular novel and I think it would appeal to young teens.

    It goes back and forth between a courtroom setting in the present to the past and how the story leads itself to the courtroom.

    I enjoyed Aslaug, the teenage lead character, she has led a very sheltered out-dated life because of her mother. Home schooled and actually only learning the things needed to pass state tests, she still has no idea what the real world is like. They live in a cabin, live off their land in Maine and use all herbs and plants as remedies, soap, etc..

    Aslaug faces a trial based on assumptions and is very naive with it all. How she prevails is interesting and how she was used is also enlightening. I would definitely read another book by this author, it was a very good debut novel.
  • Karen (Hendersonville TN)

    Wow! That is the first word that came to mind when I finished this book. "Madapple" is listed as a book for teens, but as an adult, I absolutely loved it. There was mystery, intrigue and dysfunction all rolled into an amazing story. When I closed the book after reading the last page, I just sat there a minute, thinking. This book made me THINK! Many questions pop into your mind as you are reading, and they are all answered by the end of the story. I would recommend this book to everyone...adults and the teens it was intended for. A great book!
  • Kathy (Richmond VA)

    It's madness!
    Hmmm...well, i found this book to be very well written, with beautiful descriptions and haunting images. the author has clearly done her research, and i was fascinated by the botanical aspects. i also liked the trial sequences interspersed between flashbacks. i wanted to keep reading to find out what happened, but i certainly didn't enjoy it. I found the characters sophomoric, and not very well developed. while I don't consider myself to be a puritan, or even overly religious, one or two of the plot points were very offensive, inappropriate and disturbing, even. Some ending threads tie together a bit too neatly (for example, one character who comes off as very negative in the beginning becomes a grandfather figure, with no explanation or development). I gather the book will be marketed towards teens, and perhaps if I were a teen, the book would've worked for me; on the other hand, having children myself, I'd definitely want to discuss the book with any young readers before, during and after!
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