The fantastic first novel in Lisa Mantchev's Theatre Illuminata trilogy
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. The actors are bound to the Théâtre by The Book, an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of the actors, but they are her family. And she is about to lose them all because The Book has been threatened, and along with it the Théâtre. It's the only home Bertie has ever known, and she has to find a way to save it. But first, there's the small problem of two handsome men, both vying for her attention. Nate, a dashing pirate who will do anything to protect Bertie, and Ariel, a seductive air spirit. The course of true love never did run smooth. . . .
With Eyes LIke Stars, Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.
About the Author
Lisa Mantchev is the author of the Theatre Illuminata series, including Perchance to Dream and Eyes Like Stars. She wrote her first play in fourth grade and has been involved in theater ever since. In her senior year at the University of California, Irvine, she won the Chancellor's Award For Undergraduate Research. After graduation, she taught English at the Lycée Internationale de Los Angeles and created their Drama After School Program. In between report cards and drafting scripts, she wrote fiction. Mantchev makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state with her husband Angel, her daughter Amélie, and four hairy miscreant dogs.
Read an Excerpt
Eyes Like Stars
By Lisa Mantchev
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2009 Lisa Mantchev
All rights reserved.
The fairies flew suspended on wires despite their tendency to get tangled together. Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, busy assessing her reflection in the looking glass and thinking perhaps she shouldn't have dyed her hair blue on this particular morning, turned to glare at them when they rocketed past the end of her nose for the third time in as many minutes.
"If you make me spill this stuff on the stage," she said, "I'll squeeze you until your heads pop off."
Unperturbed by the threat, Mustardseed swung by her like a demented pendulum. "Going in there with fairy guts on your hands isn't going to make a good impression!"
"Nervous about your call to the Theater Manager's Office?" Moth asked, chasing Peaseblossom in circles.
"Not the best of timing," Cobweb singsonged, hanging upside down at the end of his line, "mucking up your head right before a ten o'clock summons."
"I'm not getting called on the carpet with my roots showing." Bertie coated another section with Cobalt Flame liquid concentrate, pilfered just an hour ago from the Wardrobe Department. "Do we like the blue?"
"Better than Crimson Pagoda," Peaseblossom said. "Your entire head looked like it was on fire that time."
"Maybe I should have taken Black Cherry." Bertie stuck her tongue out at the Beatrice-in-the-mirror. "Maybe Cobalt Flame will encourage the Theater Manager to get creative with his punishment."
"He'll probably just remove the desserts from the Green Room again," Peaseblossom said.
The others groaned at the prospect, then Moth perked up to suggest, "He could make you scrub out the toilets in the Ladies' Dressing Room instead."
"Or scrape the gum off the bottoms of the auditorium seats," said Cobweb.
"Ew." Bertie wrapped another strand of hair in aluminum foil and crimped it against her head. "An excessive punishment for whistling a scene change, don't you think?"
" 'Whistling a scene change'?" Peaseblossom giggled. "That's a euphemism and a half! You set off the cannon, blew holes through three set pieces, and set the fire curtain on fire."
"Quite the valuable lesson in emergency preparedness, I think," Bertie said.
Moth twitched his ears at her. "Pondering our recent criminal history, I must admit there have been more pyrotechnic explosions than usual."
"Maybe the Theater Manager thinks you're doing it to impress Nate," Cobweb said.
Bertie felt the blood rush to her face until her cheeks were stained Shocking Pink. "Shut up."
"It is like you're acting a part for the dashing pirate lad's benefit," Mustardseed said.
Bertie snagged his wire, reeling him in until he reached eye level. "What's that supposed to mean?"
The fairy twitched. "You know. The hair dye, the black clothes —"
"The clove cigarettes!" Moth added from below.
"The drinking and cursing," said Cobweb.
"Is it method acting?" Mustardseed asked.
"This is a theater." Bertie, annoyed by the inquisition, dropped him onto the stage. Several feet of slack cable landed atop the fairy in a slithering heap.
"Oh!" Peaseblossom said. "You've buried him alive!"
"I told you it was silly to use the wires when you can fly perfectly well without them," Bertie said.
"But they're fun to swing on!" Moth protested as the fairies shed their harnesses and went to investigate the tomb of their fallen comrade.
Indefatigable, Mustardseed emerged from the pile, rubbing his bum. "If it's not for Nate, is it because of your abandonment issues?"
There was a very long silence before Bertie told her reflection, "The only reason I'm friends with any of you is because I outgrew the von Trapps, one annoying Austrian at a time."
"You could have joined the Lost Boys," Moth said.
"They did nothing but whiz on trees, and I'm not properly equipped for that."
"So you're stuck with us because of your innate inability to pee standing up?" Peaseblossom put her hands on her hips as she hovered nearby.
"That's right." Bertie used her brush to stir the dye.
"We can do lots of stuff besides pee standing up," Moth said.
"Like sword fighting!" Cobweb slashed and parried with great enthusiasm.
"Call the pirates and the shipwreck scene!" Mustardseed flailed his tiny yellow boots in an improvised hornpipe.
"I'm not supposed to make scene changes and thus I'm appalled by the very suggestion," Bertie said. "You're a bad influence, Mustardseed."
"The rules have never stopped you before." Peaseblossom looked knowing. "You just don't want Nate seeing you with your head all slimy."
Bertie put on her best Lady of the Manor air. "He needn't wait for an engraved invitation to pay a social call."
"But he prefers you pin a note to the Call Board," Peaseblossom reminded her.
The majority of the Players drifted in and out of existence according to the summonses pinned to the Call Board, but the more flamboyant, dashing, or mad the character, the more freedom they had to move about the Théâtre. The fairies dogged Bertie's every step, whereas Nate was one for protocol.
Probably all that rot about following the captain's orders.
Bertie's entire head tingled as the ammonia burned her scalp. She tried not to scratch at it, because that way lay madness ... madness and funky-colored fingertips. "It has nothing to do with Nate. I need to finish my hair before the Stage Manager gets back."
"He should be thankful it's only dye on your head and not paint all over the stage," Peaseblossom said.
Bertie glanced at the walls of her room. The three connected scenic flats were part of the Théâtre Illuminata's enormous collection of backdrops, stored in the flies overhead and in the backstage scenic dock when not in use. "I haven't painted my set in years."
Lights up on BERTIE, AGE 7. She is painting over a dingy cream wall with something labeled "Violet Essence" as the STAGE MANAGER glowers at her.
It's my bedroom, and I'll do what I want with it.
(To prove her point, she splashes magenta and silver over the violet and smears it around with her hands.)
(grabbing for BERTIE'S ear and missing)
You can answer to the Theater Manager for this mess!
(The THEATER MANAGER arrives with MR. TIBBS, the Scenic Manager.)
(turning to the THEATER MANAGER)
Why you ever decided she needed to sleep here, on the stage, is beyond my powers of reckoning!
She needed a bedroom, and this is the best we could do.
(His face turns three shades of crimson and steam hisses out of his ears like a teakettle.)
But this isn't a bedroom! We can't stop the performances for bedtime, which means she's underfoot until the stage is cleaned! And look at this mess!
(chomping his cigar)
We do not change the colors of the flats. We touch them up, or faithfully reproduce them down to the last paint stroke and bit of gilt. But we do NOT change them!
Just because you don't change them doesn't mean I can't.
Bertie, this place isn't about change. It's about eons of tradition.
(crossing her arms)
It's my bedroom. I should be allowed to do what I like with my bedroom.
(studying BERTIE until she squirms a bit)
That's true enough. But I wonder what will come next. One day, it's your bedroom and the next —
Utter chaos and pandemonium!
What color is pandemonium? It sounds yellow.
Beatrice, this is a matter of utmost importance, so I want you to listen to me and answer very carefully.
You like living here, don't you?
Do you want to remain at the Théâtre?
BERTIE Of course I do! (stammering) I mean, it's my home. ...
Then you need to understand that while we will tolerate a certain amount of ...
(He pauses to search for the appropriate word.)
No, I think perhaps the word I was searching for was "creativity." While we will tolerate, even encourage, your creativity, you must limit it to your personal space.
(frowning hard and trying to understand)
So I can paint my room?
Yes, you may. But you're forbidden to change anything else. In that regard, you will have to learn to exercise something called "self-restraint." Do you understand?
I think so. I mean, yes. Yes, sir. Now can I have paint the color of pandemonium, Mr. Tibbs?
(scattering cigar ash about the stage)
No, you may not.
(another long moment of contemplation passes before he nods)
Gentlemen, let the young lady get on with her painting. Bertie, clean up after yourself.
(He begins to make his exit, pausing at the edge of the stage.)
Please do remember what I said about exercising self-restraint.
Bertie contemplated her reflection. "Perhaps I could have shown more self-restraint."
The girl in the mirror didn't blink, so Bertie averted her gaze and looked instead around her room. Viewed from any of the seats in the house, it would create the proper illusion of a teenager's abode. Mr. Hastings, the Properties Manager, permitted her to sign out bits and pieces to make it feel cozier, but most of her knickknacks and trinkets were glued or nailed down so they wouldn't scatter about the stage when the scenery was changed. The audience would never know it, but there wasn't anything in the dresser; all Bertie's clothing was kept backstage in Wardrobe, laundered and pressed by Mrs. Edith. The bed, an elaborate four-poster, resided on a circular lift that disappeared below-stage.
And then there was The Book.
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF THE STAGE
Sitting atop a pedestal in the far corner of Stage Left and just in front of the proscenium arch, it was the only thing that remained constantly onstage. Resting there, it emitted a soft, golden radiance usually lost under the thousands of watts of power that poured from the floodlights.
No one dared touch it. Even Bertie, who dared a lot of things that the others never dreamed, did not touch The Book.
"You have dye on the end of your nose," Peaseblossom said.
Bertie set down her brush and wiped her face with a handkerchief that came away smeared with Cobalt Flame. She peeked at herself in the mirror, confirming that quite a lot of her skin was now blue. Cobweb and Moth, who'd paused in the middle of attempting to draw-and-quarter each other to look at Bertie, fell to the dusty stage floor, laughing themselves silly. Mustardseed landed on her shoulder and smeared his hands around in the dye.
"Stop that!" Bertie swept him off with a practiced flick of her finger.
He somersaulted backward, then rushed to swing his tiny fist at her nose. Cobweb and Moth tackled him, leaving miniature explosions of glitter twinkling in the air. Flying fists and booted feet kicked over the bowl of hair dye, and Cobalt Flame flowed across the stage floor to surround Bertie's Mary Janes.
She made a mad grab for the fairies. "Come back here! You're making a huge mess —"
"I'll cut off his ears!" said Moth.
"I'll slice off his nose!" added Cobweb.
"And we'll cast the bits into the sea!" they howled together.
"Forsooth!" said Mustardseed. "You'll never take me alive!"
Bertie tried to get in between them, but it was tricky not to step on someone. "Stop it!"
Mustardseed grabbed the wet, sloppy brush and hurled it at his attackers, missing them only to hit the side of Bertie's head. Several wads of aluminum foil fell off, and dye-sticky strands of hair snaked over her shoulders. Bertie used a pithy curse common amongst the pirates, but Peaseblossom was the only one who noticed the air turning blue to match the spreading mess.
"Good thing you're wearing so much black," she said.
The boys rolled past them. Tufts of fairy hair, ripped out by the roots, drifted into the orchestra pit. Tiny scraps of clothing exited the brawling tumbleweed at sporadic intervals: a sleeve, a sock, a pointy-toed shoe.
"I'll beat you for a living!"
"You and what army?"
All at once the fairies froze, like butterflies pinned to a piece of felt-covered cork. They were only ever utterly still for one reason: Someone had placed a notice on the Call Board.
"What's it say?" Bertie asked.
The fairies shook free of the trance.
"All Players to the stage," Peaseblossom said. "Ten o'clock."
Bertie swore under her breath again. "Everyone to the stage, you say?" She waved her arm at the floor, which was covered in smear marks and miniature shoe prints. "The stage that's currently decorated with a crazed ballroom dancing pattern? 'Tarantella for Three Miscreants in Pandemonium Minor' perhaps?" "Maybe we should clean up?" Moth suggested, sounding sheepish.
"You think?" Bertie ducked into the wings. Backstage, it was all black paint and dim lights covered in sheets of red gel. "We need to get rid of this mess before the Stage Manager sees it." She located his headset, lifted the mouthpiece to her lips, and whispered, "Cue scene change. The Little Mermaid, Act One, Scene One."
The fairies cheered the blackout. In the pale echo of light, vague outlines moved through Bertie's field of vision, but their details were lost to the dark. Her bedroom walls took flight in a soaring arc before disappearing into the rafters. The bed dropped below the stage while the armchair and dresser chased each other into the wings. Huge wooden waves slid in from Stage Left with the clank and wallop of mechanical water. Seaweed hit the stage with wet thumps, sand gathered in drifts, and saltwater misted the floor. Ground row lights painted the cyclorama in undulating shades of blue and green.
"Fabulous!" Moth shouted, and the words were bubbles. "Come on, losers!"
The others joined him, trailing froth and brine. Mustardseed climbed the pearl garland while Peaseblossom and Cobweb darted in and out of the coral reef in an elaborate game of tag. A chorus of starfish entered Stage Right and began to tap-dance, very softly, in the sand. Scrubbing the dye off herself and the floor with handfuls of kelp, Bertie watched the Sea Witch also make her entrance.
"Sad, isn't it?" said someone just behind Bertie.
She turned to find Ophelia trailing flowers and chiffon through the saltwater-and-dye puddles. Like the fairies, she came and went as she pleased, walking the ragged edge of her sanity and drawn to the ocean by some unwritten instinct.
"What's sad about it?" Little puffs of sand lifted and settled again as Bertie slogged from one dye splotch to the next.
"She loved once and lost." Hair drifting over her shoulders in unseen eddies, Ophelia looked at the Sea Witch's wavering image projected on the back wall. "You'd think she'd show more mercy."
"Whatever you say." Done with the stage, Bertie still had to deal with the dye on her head. "What are you doing here?"
"I heard the water running." Ophelia lifted her arms up and smiled into the ghostly, aquamarine lighting. "I thought I'd come and drown myself. I won't be in the way, will I?"
"Just watch out for the starfish." Psycho, Bertie mouthed to the fairies, who made looping finger gestures at their temples behind Ophelia's back.
"Don't think I don't know what you're doing back there," Ophelia said before she drifted off to do what she did best.
The fairies, taken aback by the cheerful admonishment, were caught unawares by the smoke machine. Lights tinted the artificial fog the same dark blue as Bertie's hair, and the scene transitioned into Coming Storm, complete with rattling of the thunder sheet and flashes of brilliant lightning-white. The massive prow of the Persephone soared out of the mist, safeguarded against evil by the gold coin Nate had placed in the hull and the one of silver under the mast.
Jus' in case, he'd said when Bertie teased.
Despite the protective charms on the boat, the Sea Witch attacked with curses and errant waves, just as she did in every performance.
"Man overboard!" Nate's only line; he bellowed it with his usual gusto, the words underscored by the creak of the Persephone's wooden planks and straining ropes. Bertie peered into the flies and caught sight of him leaning over the ship's railing, tendrils of hair torn free from his braid. Her heart gave a queer little flutter, which she instantly dismissed as both ridiculous and embarrassing.
Nate pointed at her and mouthed, I'll be right down. Don't go anywhere.
Bertie remembered what a mess she must look and tried to figure out how much time she had to remedy it: One minute until the ship reached Stage Left, another two minutes to see to the rigging, and thirty seconds to disembark added up to hardly enough. With a muffled oath, she shoved her head into the bucket behind the wooden wave. Splash!
"That's going to be a lovely shade of blue," Peaseblossom said, pulling out the bits of foil.
"Shut up and help me get this stuff off!" Bertie scrubbed at her head with her eyes squeezed shut, wondering how much time she had left.
None, apparently. She came up streaming water; through the dripping cobalt, she caught a glimpse of clenched muscle under soiled linen and the glint of his earring before Nate wrapped her head in an enormous towel.
"Yer makin' a terrible mess," he observed.
Excerpted from Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev. Copyright © 2009 Lisa Mantchev. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsTC1[CHAPTER ONE Presenting Beatrice]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER TWO All Players to the Stage]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER THREE What Will Become of You?]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER FOUR How Bertie Came to the Theater, a Play in One Act]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER FIVE Sedition Amongst the Ranks]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER SIX Window Dressing]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER SEVEN Straitlaced]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER EIGHT The Manager's Office]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER NINE Divas and Drama Queens]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER TEN Still Waters]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER ELEVEN Chaos Is Come Again]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER TWELVE Legato and Staccato]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER THIRTEEN Suspicions and Superstitions]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER FOURTEEN Divide and Conquer]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER FIFTEEN All Met by Moonlight]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER SIXTEEN Pins and Poking-Sticks of Steel]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Once More Unto the Breach]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Tribunal]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER NINETEEN Toil and Trouble]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER TWENTY But a Walking Shadow]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE I Could a Tale Unfold]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Sweet and Bitter Fancy]TC1,
TC1[CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Revels Now Ended]TC1,
Reading Group Guide
1. The novel describes the art nouveau style of the theater, Mrs.
Edith's Victorian clothing, patrons arriving by both carriage and limousine, and Bertie's clothing choices (which include jeans and black nail polish). What are possible explanations for the multiple time periods referenced?
2. Several non-Shakespearean stage productions are referenced in
Eyes Like Stars, including Peter Pan, Man of La Mancha, and
Les Misérables. Discuss how the various themes of these plays
(the refusal to grow up, going on a quest, revolution) tie into
Bertie's own story.
3. Nate is a superstitious member of the cast, stepping into his ship right foot first, never uttering the word "drowned," and always referring to Macbeth as "the Scottish play." These are all classic theater superstitions. Are there other superstitions in the theater?
Why might people who work in the theater develop such beliefs?
How does the idea of being superstitious particularly affect the
Théâtre Illuminata and Bertie?
4. Mrs. Edith warned Bertie to keep her distance from Ariel. What might Mrs. Edith's reasons be for forbidding this relationship?
5. Bertie's two love interestsAriel and Natecouldn't be more different from one another. How can Bertie be so attracted to both of them? Could Ariel and Nate each help Bertie compensate for a certain side of her personality? How?
6. Bertie knows nothingand can remember nothingabout her life before the Théâtre Illuminata. How does Bertie use her play,
How Bertie Came to the Theater, to discover herself? Why is it important for Bertie to see herself as the daughter of a young,
famous, beautiful actress who left the theater? In what ways was
Bertie correct about her own unknown story?
7. Are there any hints in the book that help to identify who might be Bertie's mother? Does Bertie share any characteristics with her mother?
8. Bertie's father is known only as The Stranger. Who could this mysterious stranger be? Is he more likely to be a character from this book, or one not yet introduced?
9. By the end of the book, it is revealed that Bertie is, in fact, not a foundling or an orphan. Why was it so important to the Theater
Manager to convince Bertie that she was?
10. Bertie proves to have a special kind of "word magic" which makes her unique at the Théâtre. What could be the reason for Bertie's special ability?
11. Why was Bertie so reluctant to see the outside world when she had the opportunity to leave the Théâtre? What events help her to
change her mind about the outside world by the end of the book?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Prepare to enter the world of the Théâtre Illuminata, where every play that has ever been written comes to life. Our heroine, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, has spent nearly all of her life living amongst the props, players and stage hands; however, she is not a player nor is she on the stage crew. Left on the theater's doorstep when she was very young, Bertie has come to call the theater her home and has made friends with many of the cast members. Among these friends are Ariel, the sexy air spirit from <i>The Tempest</i>, Nate, her swashbuckling pirate crush from <i>The Little Mermaid</i>, and her co-conspirators... the four faeries from <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream</i> - Moth, Peaseblossom, Cobweb and Mustardseed. A vivacious and somewhat troublesome teenager, Bertie can usually be found dying her hair outrageous colors, and causing no small amount of chaos (much to the dismay of the temperamental Stage Manager). However, Bertie's luck finally runs out and she discovers that she is being sent away from the theater - back into the real world where they say she belongs. In order to stay, she strikes a bargain with the Theater Manager. If she can prove herself as a good playwright and earn her place in the theater, she will be able to remain. Bertie eagerly accepts the challenge with her mind set on creating a new adaptation of <i>Hamlet</i>. The theater is nothing if not magical and its magic rests in the pages of The Book. As you can imagine, this is no ordinary book; it contains every play that has ever been written, and not only keeps the theater in working order but also binds the players to the stage. As such, the players cannot leave the theater. This is where things start to go wrong. While Bertie tries to get her new production together, Ariel hatches a plan to free himself from the slavery of the theater. He manages to get a hold of The Book and remove many of the pages. Suddenly, the other players begin to vanish and the theater begins to disintegrate before their eyes. To make matters worse, Sedna, the Sea Witch from <i>The Little Mermaid</i>, appears, kidnaps Nate and takes him back to her under-the-sea realm. I won't tell you how it ends but it definitely has a great cliff-hanger. I loved this novel. It's creative, artistic, magical and one of the most original stories that I have read in a very long time. Kudos to you Ms. Mantchev; your writing is phenomenal! In a time when the market is saturated with novels about vampires, werewolves and other recycled dark fantasy elements, <i>Eyes Like Stars</i> is a breath of fresh air. Indeed, it truly reads like a warm summer day in comparison to the drab darkness of most of the other novels I have read lately. Extra bonus: the cover art is gorgeous! I am ashamed to admit that I sometimes judge the book by the cover. The cover art is beyond amazing. It grabbed my eye from across the room and I knew I had to add it to my stack. I'm so glad I did! In short, if you are looking for a fresh plot, wonderful characters, a little romance and a whole lot of magic, read this book!
Shakespeare's Ophelia drowns herself nightly, the lost boys fly without strings attached, while Ariel leaves women sighing even as he walks past. This strange blend of classical characters and their quirks can only happen in one place: The Theatre Illuminata. The Theatre Illuminata houses every actor for every play ever written. However, they aren't simply actors, but the actual characters, born to play a specific role. Bertie, mischievous and tenacious, is the only person who plays no part on the stage. Beatrice (Bertie) Shakespeare Smith paints her nails black, dyes her hair blue, smokes clove cigarettes and according to Peasebottom, one of Bertie's best friends and Shakespeare's playful fairies, does these things to impress Nate, her would-be pirate boyfriend. Even though she plays no part in the stage, she still lives on it: her bedroom literally sits on the stage of The Theatre Illuminata, and disappears with every scene change. Although she lives in this fantastical world of magic and curtain calls, she certainly wasn't born to it. All she's been told about her past is that she was abandoned on the steps of the theatre and has no idea who her parents could be. Because she plays no active role at the theatre, Bertie soon find herself desperately searching for a reason to stay at the Theatre Illuminata. Lisa Mantchev scripts this quirky yet thoughtful novel with the heart of an actor and the mind of a novelist: her immanent love of theatre seeps into every page, while readers are drawn into her cleverly crafted story, ensnaring them with each sentence. Mantchev constructs a straightforward plot in which a spunky girl turns a theatre upside down to find her calling in life, falls for a gentlemanly pirate all while avoiding the trouble caused by her best friends, the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream. As this unique group of characters helps Bertie find a permanent, useful place in the theatre, Bertie seeks her past, encounters a murderous sea witch, and finds out what happens when someone drinks from the "Drink Me" bottle on the Alice in Wonderland set. This sort of plot makes for an odd coupling, since the novel is intertwined with masterful classic literary tributes and the common plot of a teen romance novel. While readers will inevitably find the supporting cast endearing, they may also find that Bertie and her impending love triangle are nothing more than a juvenile fantasy. Yet the two aspects mingle well, producing an enjoyable read which rewards those who pay attention in English class. Yet the brilliance of this novel lies in a precarious position. Mantchev clearly knows her Shakespeare as well as many other classic plays and novels. She backs her novel with characters from many of Shakespeare's plays and never misses a chance to reference them. All those who have read Macbeth will give a whole hearted chuckle when Macbeth, at a breakfast buffet, picks up a cruller and mutters, "Is this a doughnut I see before me?" but is cut off from any impending doughnut speech when he sees raspberry jelly covering everything and begins to shriek. Sadly, the audience may miss the irony of this completely if they are not familiar with Shakespeare. After all, this light hearted read is presented to young adults, who don't necessarily read Shakespeare in their spare time. However, Eyes Like Stars has such ingenious allusions to the classics and word play that even those well out of their adolescent years will appreciate it.
What can I say about this one to do it justice? I loved it. Well, more to the point I LOVED it. It's a fun fantasy novel--a romance--that is satisfying and playful and oh-so-right. Our heroine, Beatrice, has grown up in the theatre. But not just any theatre, no, the only home she has ever known is home to every stage character ever written--all the plays ever penned. Her best friends are fairies--perhaps you've read about them before, for they are found in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her love interest? The man of her dreams? A minor character from A Little Mermaid. Her love-to-hate, hate-to-love enemy? Ariel from The Tempest. When we first meet Beatrice, she's in trouble. The Theatre Manager has decided that it is time for Beatrice to go. His excuse? She's not contributing to the theatre. She--and others along side her--plead with him; he grants her a few more days to prove that she has what it takes, that she belongs there. Her idea? To be a director! Though their productions generally never require a director--after all the originals know their lines backwards and forwards and then some--but if she were to change it up, change it around...then...maybe just maybe she'd find her place. Thus she seeks to recreate Hamlet...to give it an ancient Egyptian setting. But life is never this easy, right? You know there are bound to be conflicts! I am not going to say much more. I don't want to spoil it. But it is oh-so-magical. It is fun and playful. It is giddy-making.
It is a masterpiece. It is now one of my favorite books. I recommend it to anyone.
I started a book club at my school and this was the second book I selected for all of us to read. I have not read this complete series but of what I have read so far (this first book) it was very good. This was a very intresting book. At first, this book seemed a little childish, but as I read on it got better. The author's use of vocabulary I found was a little strange at times, and yet at others it brought me more intrigued to the story. I love theatre and I love reading, so this was an interesting book to me. Although, I must say it is one of those books that you just can't seem to put down. I also liked the "cast list" ;) in this book the characters were very unique, with detailed personalities. I would recommend this book to any readers who have at least a small amount of prior knowledge of the theatre, and enjoy reading. One last thing I also enjoyed about this book was it had modern twists of old theatre characters and tales. ~Brava!!! :)
Eyes Like Stars was a book I'd been looking at for awhile, but hadn't really gotten the nerve to buy. But, when I did, it not only fulfilled my expectations, it surpassed them! Bertie has lived in the Theatre Illuminata for as long as she can remember. Before arriving, she has no memory of anything, except what she's tried to figure out by writing out her own story in a play. One day, horrible news arrives. The Theater Manager is forcing her to leave the only home she has. Devastated, she tries to make him reconsider, and he does. The Theater Manager gives her only a few days to prove herself invaluable to Theatre Illuminata. Determined to do so, she sets out trying to restage a play. However, it is not as easy as it looks, especially with the two men trying to win her over. Nate, a dashing pirate, tries to protect Bertie from Ariel, a wind spirit who also seems to have a thing for the girl. The action and magic in this book, paired with the mystery of Bertie's past, the romance, and four mischievous fairies make this a wonderful read. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good fantasy tale.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives in a theater. She's not an actress, but she knows every part. The Theatre Illuminata is the only home Bertie has ever know. But one mishap too many has the Theater Director determined to send Bertie on her way -unless she can prove that she is a valuable part of the Theater. Now, Bertie must fight for her home while unlocking the secrets of her past... Ok, I'll try to control my gushing and fan-girliness over this book, but EYES LIKE STARS is amazing!!! This has to be one of the most creative, imaginative, beautiful novels I have read. I loved the setting of the Theatre Illuminata and the idea that all the players of every play lived in the theater and were able to be called upon whenever they are needed (and sometimes when they're not needed!). Lisa Mantchev has managed to capture the magic of the theater in this stunningly written novel. I honestly can't believe this is her debut. All the characters are so richly drawn and detailed and I could hear various voices for everyone as I was reading. Everything was so vividly written, I could actually see the see the story unfolding as a play in front of me. The fairies offer fun comic relief, whereas the tension between Ariel and Bertie provides plenty of drama. The dialog is witty and snappy and lots of fun. This was a book that I literally had to tear myself away from and force myself to go to work and sleep - I never wanted to stop reading. Shakespeare does play heavily into the novel, but you don't need to be a Shakespearean scholar to follow along and recognize the characters. Also, Lisa Mantchev does an excellent job filling the reader in on the important details of each part, without it losing the flow of the story. There are several plays and characters that make appearances throughout and discovering each one is part of the joy of reading this novel. As someone who has been heavily involved in theater, I loved the subtle details about theater life that only theater people really and truly understand - the arguments over props vs. sets, the actor's egos. But even if you've never had any experience in a theater, there is sure to be something you'll love in EYES LIKE STARS. I highly recommend this to all readers, even readers who typically shy away from fantasy. This didn't feel like a typical fantasy to me, so I'm sure it will attract even those who don't usually read that genre. I'm excited to see this will be a trilogy - I'm looking forward to reading more from this fabulous debut author!
I had to read this book because of the cover. I love the art work they used and knew with a cover that awesome the book had to be amazing too, right? Well sort of. I did enjoy the concept and the majority of the storyline. I liked the `living¿ theater idea, where all the actors in the plays were real or at least real to Bertie. The story setting is literally on a stage and we follow Bertie as she struggles to keep her place among the fantastical living cast of all of the plays ever held ...more I had to read this book because of the cover. I love the art work they used and knew with a cover that awesome the book had to be amazing too, right? Well sort of. I did enjoy the concept and the majority of the storyline. I liked the `living¿ theater idea, where all the actors in the plays were real or at least real to Bertie. The story setting is literally on a stage and we follow Bertie as she struggles to keep her place among the fantastical living cast of all of the plays ever held at the theater. I loved the little fairies trailing Bertie around, the swashbuckling Nate, and the mysterious Ariel. However, I was not really a big fan of Bertie herself, and it is definitely harder to enjoy a book when you don¿t really like the point of view it is told from. I often found myself just being ready for the story to be done. Some of the scenes were well written and amusing, but I didn¿t really know what was going on most of the time because frequent `scenery changes¿ as Bertie used her imagination. This might be my own fault for trying to read a book during final exams week. The writing was fun, but a little superfluous for my tastes. All in all I enjoyed most of the book and will eventually get around to reading the second one just so I can find out what happens with a loose-end they left unresolved.
I have get something off my chest. *takes deep breath* I bought this book for it's cover. I didn't even read the description first. This book takes place entirely in an enchanted theater ran by The Book. The Book is what bounds the Players to the roles they were born to play, and it domineers over the magical scene changes. 17 yr old Bertie is not a Player nor a crew member, but has called the Theater her home for the past 10 years, not knowing where she came from. Bertie and her companions, the four mischievious faires from A Midsummer Night's Dream and Nate, a minor pirate from The Little Mermaid, have been known to get into trouble. After a particularly bad incedent, it looks like Bertie's time in the Theater has finally come to pass. But Bertie has one final chance to prove that she can contribute: become a Director and sell out a performance. Of course, not everything goes smoothly as the Players become more and more unsettled with their given roles. Bertie, while kind of immature for a 17 year old, is strong and funny in her own right. How can you expect a girl who grows up with the most dramatic characters ever to grace the stage not to be colorful? And I love her choice of hair color. The fairies that follow Bertie around and join her in her antics are some of the funnest and funniest characters I have ever experienced. I want one for myself. I'll just have to remember to hide my Twinkies. Nate is a little dry, but sweet enough. I just hope Mantchev fleshes him out more. Ariel's name bothers me. I think of a red-haired mermaid. This made things difficult for me when the romantic tension was being built. The setting was easily the best part of the book, even though some times I had no idea what was going on. It's not a point of pride for me, but sometimes I couldn't follow the action. It seemed to jump from one point to the other without much of a bridge in between. I liked the book. Not as much as I could have, but I'm definitely glad that lush cover pulled me in. And the cover also helped in my visualization of Bertie and the fairies. Alexa, I agree with you. This book would be awesome as a animated film by Mr. Miyazaki. I will read the sequel when I have the chance. I'm looking forward to being drawn into such an imaginative world again.
I like this book if you are know your plays than you will know the people in this book. It is a really good young adult book. I just bought the 2nd book so I hope it is just as good! I'll let you know when I review that one.
The cover of this book is really what drew me into it. The girl on the cover is the main character in the story Bertie, and the three fairies are Cobweb, Peaseblossom and Mustardseed, the fairies from A Midsummer¿s Night Dream. It took me a couple of chapters to get really sucked into the story because I felt a little lost at the beginning, but after that it really picked up. I love Bertie!! I love all her hair changes, her independence and her awesome fairies that follow her around. I also like all the Shakespearean references, being a huge fan of Shakespeare myself, I laughed whenever those references were tied in there. I have to say though, when I read a book, especially one with a love triangle, I usually have a clear cut guy that I want the girl to end up with (ex. Edward and Bella, Ash and Seth, Clary and Jace, or Faythe and Marc) so when this book started I thought I knew who I wanted Bertie to end up with, but now at the end of the book, I am not so sure. I don¿t think I have ever felt like that before and I am not sure how Lisa is going to solve this love triangle I am eager to see how it unfolds. Another interesting part of this book is the Theatre itself . I love how the Theatre is almost alive and you come to see it as another character of the book . This is a light, fun read and if you love the theatre and a good love triangle, you should read this book. The sequel to this book Perchance to Dream comes out May 25th, so you won¿t have to wait long!
Eyes Like Stars is the story of Bertie, a teenager who has spent most of her life living in the Théâtre Illuminata. Her friends are the living characters of all of the plays that have ever been held at the theatre (Hamlet, A Midsummer's night dream, etc). Bertie loves her life, but after one unfortunate evening when she sets off a cannon during a performance, she is told to leave for good. Bertie bargains with the Theater Manager, and he agrees to let her stay if she can successfully direct a play. What happens next is straight out of a fairytale.... For me, Eyes Like Stars was a labor of love. I picked it up, could not get into it, picked up another book, and repeated the process a couple times over. The overabundance of characters coupled with constant scenery changes made it a very difficult book to keep up with. I finally decided that I would give it a dedicated chance and forced myself through the first couple chapters. The more I read, the more I felt the pull to keep reading. After getting through the first half of the book, I could not put it down. I will most certainly read the sequel, but I anticipate that it too will be a strenuous read. Fortunately, I am hooked to the characters, and I'm sure I will be a little more dedicated the second time around.
Personal Response:I fully expected to like this book. What¿s not to like? Magic, fairies, characters from famous plays, theater sets, beautiful cover art... Well it just didn¿t happen. First, I hated the nickname Bertie. Ughh. The fairies, Bertie¿s companions, are juvenile and their constant arguing is very distracting. There were too many characters to get to know, relate to and keep track of. I hate love triangles. The list goes on. The book does have a very original setting but it just never worked for me. Curricular/Programming Connections:Read with a fantasy book groupThe book contains characters from many different famous plays like Shakespeare¿s the Tempest. So read some of those plays in conjunction with the book.
At first reading this book I didn't think that I liked it, then as I kept myself reading it, it started to grow on me. Now I cant wait to get the 2nd book and start reading it. I don't know about the character Ariel, you hate him, then you love him, then you really don't know what to think about him. I hate how Nate gets kidnapped... what the heck? I really need the 2nd book. =)
This book is every bit as good as the cover would lead you to believe. Beatrice "Bertie" Shakespeare Smith is a girl living in the Theatre Illuminata, where she has been since she was a small child. This magical theatre is filled with every character from every play ever written. It's hard to reveal much about the plot without spoiling the story. However, I can say that the plot is second to the setting and the characters in this book. Right away we are thrown into a chaotic world of theatre with characters from works like Hamlet and the Little Mermaid. I put off reading this for some time because I thought that it would be focused on these classic plays and would require foreknowledge of many of them. This was a major mistake as I thoroughly enjoyed it without having any knowledge of theatre at all. The best thing about this novel is that while being absolutely bizarre at some points it still remains very entertaining and will leave you laughing out loud. At least a third of the story involves the four fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Moth, Cobweb, Peaseblossom, and Mustardseed are constantly acting crazy and yet it doesn't get old because it fits in perfectly with the tone of the novel. An incredibly original Young Adult read.
Eyes Like Stars is one of the those books whose premis is somewhat difficult to explain (the offical synopsis is very vague). Basically the novel stars Bertie, a wild and blue-haired girl who lives in a magical theater along with thousands of characters from Shakespearean and otherwise plays. (But mostly just Shakespeare.) Bertie's best friends are the fun-loving (and argumentative) faeries from A Midsummer Night's Dream, her bedroom is located on a trapdoor over the stage of the Theatre where pirate ships frequently dock and plays are performed nightly, and the Theatre bathrooms are more often than not occupied by Ophelia trying to drown herself. If all of that didn't make for a pretty hectic lifestyle, Bertie is also constantly at war over props and wall colors with the Stage Manager-- one of the few non-Player characters in the book. Bertie has two love interests, in the grand tradition of YA love triangles: Nate-- a swashbuckling and yet surprisingly pure-hearted young pirate who has captured Bertie's heart; and Ariel-- a seductive, brooding, and decidedly untrustworthy air spirit who hails from The Tempest. It is Ariel who is determined to steal the Book which contains all the plays ever written and binds the players to the Theatre, therefore releasing them onto the real world. The writing of Eyes like Stars is occasionally a little difficult to follow-- I had to reread paragraphs a few times. But the characters themselves are what makes the story, just like they make a great play. Bertie is a headstrong and wacky kind of heroine and the dialogue is pretty funny, especially wherever the faeries are involved. After finishing the book, I am definitely Team Ariel... ...And I see that he and (a brunette??) Bertie are on the front cover of Lisa Mantchev's newest book Perchance to Dream, the sequel to Eyes like Stars! (Which is even now moving up to the top of my to-read list.) The third and last book in the trilogy-- So Silver Bright-- is set to release sometime in 2011. Eyes Like Stars is an unusual and witty fantasy populated by unique and lovable characters. And it's absolutely a must-read for Shakespeare and theatre fans.
Beatrice (Bertie) Shakespeare Smith has always lived at the theatre, growing up in a magical place where every play ever preformed lives, particularly the immortal characters created by William Shakespeare such as Lady Macbeth, Ophelia from Hamlet, Ariel from The Tempest and the four fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream, among others. Bertie has always lived a wonderful, and somewhat wild life around the theatre, and is suddenly threatened to leave the theatre unless she can prove her worth. In desperation, Bertie decides to restage Hamlet in Egypt to bring in patrons. As the production comes together, a magical book containing all stories of the stages is stolen, and Bertie must recover it while discovering the secrets behind her unknown origins.Straightforward, but unique and entertaining, Eyes Like Stars is a quick, enjoyable read that felt fresh and fun, as well as somewhat sophisticated for a YA novel due to all the Shakespeare influences. I particularly enjoyed seeing several of the Bard's classic characters interact with one another. While I find it interesting that much of the plot revolved around a restaging of Hamlet, many Shakespeare purist (and Mantchev seems to be one) would cringe at the thought of restaging any of Shakespeare's plays, I still thought the idea was fun and was approached in a light-hearted enough way that it didn't take over the overall plot.While I would have preferred a few more twists and turns, Eyes Like Stars is a magical read from a compelling new author. Fans of magical fantasy, the theatre and even some romance will devour Eyes Like Stars.
Okay, I might be getting way ahead of myself and over-generalizing here but: authors with a background in theater are AWESOME.I've been seeing Eyes Like Stars around for like the past two years, but for some reason I kept putting off getting my hands on a copy - mostly because high school had me studying like a bear eating its body weight before spending the winter napping. I totally regret that now, because that was definitely a time I needed a perky pick-me-up like WHOA.First of all...please tell me how I can end up living at the Theatre Illuminata - minus becoming a foundling child the way Bertie was. It seemed like every other page I was going green with envy, thinking, "Why do places like these only exist in books?!" I mean, Bertie's room is part of the set. How unique can you get?Also, the writing. A major point I've always given to authors with a background in the performing arts is the way the story just seems to flow. When you read Eyes Like Stars - at least to me - it unfolds around you like the perfect movie script. (Speaking of which, this needs to be a movie. Now.)None of the characters are cardboard cut-outs, or take over the stage from anyone else. The only person I really couldn't warm up to was Ariel - mainly because in spite of his NOT being The Little Mermaid, his character was pretty similar. He wanted to be part of that world at all costs...but he went a little far in doing so. Even if it all ended well (and no, I don't count that as a spoiler, thank you very much), I still kept him at arm's length.Nate on the other hand...Oh, and one last push in the right direction: if you don't want to read it for anything I described up there, read it for the fairies - you know, Peaseblossom, Mustardseed...those little cuties from A Midsummer Night's Dream? I always thought that if they had more screen time, they'd really ham it up, and in Eyes Like Stars, they really do.Example: the "Diva" vs. "Divo" scene on page 45. Not only was this cute, it was also funny because my sister and I have had that exact same debate - ie. is Joe Jonas categorized as a diva or a divo? (Don't ask.) Warnings: Bare fairy bottoms, a naked ghost, bathing with a pirate and innuendo, OH MY! Final verdict: Read it. It will make your heart happy. It definitely made mine.
I love this book. The idea is one of those that you wish you had come up with, but while reading this, I know that I couldn't put a dent in what Lisa Mantchev did. I absolutely ADORED this book.
I completely enjoyed this book. The female lead character Bertie is great, a strong willed, independent trouble making young woman.At first I was a little confused about the parameters of the world in which her book is set. But then I just came to accept this world is based on magic and when magic is involved anything is possibly, like when Harry Potter goes into the what seems to be 2 man tent actually contains around 500 square feet of living space. The world that Lisa Manchev has created is based on magic. The Theatre Illuminata contains any, and every prop, set, character ever written within the theater. The characters are not just actors, but they are the person. It is a crazy concept, but I very much enjoyed every word of it.I love Bertie's comical relief sidekick fairies Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed and Peaseblossom that just want to eat any type of sweets they can get their hands onto. Bertie's two male interests are Nate the protective sweet pirate and Ariel the seductive tempting air spirit.
Novels when turned into plays or movies, never turn out the way you wish.Lisa Mantchev, changes that statement, with her book titled Eyes Like Stars. At first her books looks just like any other book. You open its first pages, realize its a play. It¿s not just any play though. The cast of her play is from arrangement of other plays. There is Shakespeare¿s characters from A Midsummers Night¿s Dream, The Tempest and Hamlet. That isn¿t all though there is the play The little Mermaid who in her eyes has the wickedness Witch out of all other witches.Turn the page though to read the play, you see its a book! Shocking isn¿t it? Yes, it is. The novel has all the member of every play ever written takes place in Theatre Illuminata and they never leave. All the cast is forever trapped in the Theatre by The Book. An ancient scroll that traps them all there.Reading through the first few pages you meet, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, the heroine of her tale. Meaning that its not the book that tells the tale neither the plays within this book, but the tale that Beatrice has to write in order to find the questions she desires. Such as how she came about to the theater? Who is her mother? Why even though she messes things up so much, why is the Properties Manger always keep her at the Theatre?It all starts within the pages of this book that is a play within another play. Its an exciting story with characters that have transcended time over many years of Shakespeare and now with adding Bertie¿s story of her own.Fast page turned that I read in all of eight hours. I know not everyone is like me but, this is one book that is hard to put down. It has what everyone likes about Shakespeare play with so much more since its all of your favorites put into one exciting tale.This is part of my catch up time. So there is a second one called Perchance to Dream, I¿m a hundred pages in and it¿s just as exciting so be ready for the next installment soon.
When my friend tried to read this book and just couldn't push herself through it, I almost decided not to read it as well. The reason I did pick it up is because it sounded so interesting and original, and I hate to give up on a book that I was excited to read.So anyway, without giving away any spoilers, I will say this book was indeed very confusing (why did the fairies from Shakespeare's play exist in this book?) but it was also fast paced. I enjoyed the concept of the theater being magical and I like Bertie's character because she was head strong and interesting.The love story behind it left something to be desired because I didn't really feel it was developed enough. However, the "Final Act" was so good it made sticking with this story worth it. Overall, I liked it, not loved it. I liked it enough that I do believe I will read the sequel, just not enough to ever re-read it. Check it out if you are looking for something different!
"Eyes Like Stars" is the debut novel by author Lisa Mantchey, as well as the first book of the new Theatre Illuminata series. The story focuses on Bertie Shakespeare Smith, a foundling, who grew up in the Theatre Illuminata, a place where characters from classic plays, come to life to play their roles.Overall, this feels like a work that had too many plotpoints it tried to swallow and ended up choking on it. What didn't help was the fact that the main character is a person that's hard to relate to, and in most parts would come out more as the villain in a high school drama.Its saving grace is the fact that the story does become interesting ...halfway down the book. It doesn't help that towards the end, a trope straight out of a maudlin soap opera, a deus-ex-machina occurs to conclude the story and lead to its sequel. However, it still remained interesting enough for me to hope that the positive trend of the book is something that will continue in Bk 2, "Perchance to Dream." Still, it's should be said that I'm most definitely not within the target demographic and thus my review should be treated with a grain of salt.
I was given the chance to read and review the ARC of this lovely story by the author herself, Lisa Mantchev. I'd been stalking Lisa ever since the first time my eyes meet the cover of this endearing book.Originality: 20!Characters: 20!Writing: 20!Setting: 10!Plot: 20!Passion: 9!Grade: 99/100!Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives at Center Stage of the Theatre Illuminata. Her best friends are fairies! She crushes on a pirate, Nate, and an air elemental named Ariel. She butts heads with the Stage Manager and constantly feeds the fire between the Property Manager and the Scenery Manager. And within it all she's an orphan with Cobalt blue hair. She controls the written word. If she writes it, it happens.She is given the ultimate challenge. Sell out a show and receive a standing ovation or leave the Theatre forever. Is she able to get all the Managers and Players to work together to remake a play into something new? Will she survive an attack from a Sea Witch? And lastly, will she find out who her mother is?This book was just too much fun to read! Beatrice's character seemed like an average teenage girl with a very supernatural setting that she lived in. The other characters of this book were from the works of Shakespeare's plays. I found that I knew just about all of the characters, so I didn't have any issues understanding what was going on. However, I wonder if other people reading this book find themselves confused because they don't know what play the character originates from. That would be the only negative thing I could find about this book.The story was very original and complicated but it meshed well together. The setting and the plot were just outstanding. The creativity needed to write this book is unbelievable. Lisa did an amazing job putting it all together. And one of my favorite things about the written book is the typeface changes when Beatrice was writing the play lines. Amazingly well done.I gave the Passion rating a 9/10, because I honestly felt the passion between Beatrice and both male leads, Ariel and Nate, more so with Nate. However, since Beatrice is only a teenager I feel the passion was definitely there and it was very tangible; therefore, my resulting rating of a 9/10.Ultimately, this has got to be one of the funniest, creative books I have read in a very long time.
The best way I can think of to describe this book is that it¿s not just something to read, it¿s something to experience. It was so much fun reading this book that even after staying up late reading it, when I awoke at 3:30 in the morning I seriously considered picking it back up instead of falling back to sleep. That¿s probably the highest compliment I can give a book, as I value my sleep like gold. Like the Théâtre Illuminata itself, Eyes Like Stars is filled with magic. Mantchev¿s prose is enviable. Her word choice is spot on and devoid of clichés; the dialogue is realistic, filled with humor and passion; and the imagery is astoundingly and uniquely evocative. And the characters? Magnificent.Bertie is feisty and strong-willed, and when she¿s faced with the undesirable prospect of leaving the Théâtre, her determination to prove her worth is unflinching. She and the supporting cast of characters blend together into a narrative that is powerfully engrossing. The story is perfectly paced, with moments of seriousness expertly peppered with humor. Bertie¿s interactions with both Nate and Ariel provide the ideal amount of tension, creating a romantic quandary that doesn¿t seem obviously biased to one over another, as both characters are desirable. (I mean, I definitely have a favorite, but I can definitely understand the appeal of the other guy.) The book¿s conclusion gives a satisfying end to certain strands of the plot while leaving enough of the story open-ended to leave readers wanting to discover what happens next.