Cover Image: Unwritten

Unwritten

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This book is going to be a hit with young girls. The story weaves all the magic of a fairy tale with all of the mystery of a middle-grade story well told.

The idea that the main character, twelve year old Gracie is actually a character from a storybook is interesting and will be unique for the younger generation.

At first Gracie is living a normal life, just like the rest of her schoolmates. As the story continues we learn where she came from and how it came to be that her mother escaped with her into the “real” world.

The Author writes with the perfect mix of preteen angst and magic. What twelve year old girl hasn’t fantasized about discovering that she is really a Princess?

Imagine discovering that you owe your life to an author, rather than to your parents. How bizarre would that be?

After Gracie discovers with where she came from, events quickly speed up. She is desperate to know more about what the story says about her, but her mother will not tell her anything.

With typical youthful exuberance, Gracie decides that if her mother will not give her the information she so desperately wants, she will find answers on her own. This leads to a snowball effect and soon events spiral out of control and Gracie discovers that her life is now in danger.

Will she survive returning to the fairytale she had been rescued from as a baby? Or will she discover too late the power of the fairytale?

Writing Gracie must have brought out the author’s inner child. She does a brilliant job of describing the way young girls often feel. They may think they are on the cusp of adulthood, and be aggravated by the way their parents still treat them “like a child.”

It is only later (and sometimes too late, or not all) that they come to realize that maybe, just maybe, their parents are right and should have been listened to after all.

I enjoyed the mother daughter dynamics and could empathise with both characters. The scenes from inside the fairytale are terrific, as are Gracie’s interactions with the characters.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I will say no more about the plot.

UNWRITTEN is due to hit bookstores on October 16th and it is sure to become a hit. It would be a great Christmas present for the preteen or young adult in your family.

I rate UNWRITTEN as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

**Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book! The full review will be posted soon at kaitgoodwin.com/books! Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect books to their readers!
Was this review helpful?
I picked up this book because I couldn't resist the premise—a girl in the real world who escaped with her family from a fairy tale, except the story still holds sway over them all. As a parent of a somewhat reluctant middle grade reader, I'm always looking for something fresh to tempt him with, and this story doesn't disappoint. I have to say that this was the freshest, most non-formulaic, creative book I've read in a very long time!  Several times I uttered an audible "whoa!" as the plot took an unexpected twist. 

I loved and connected with the protagonist, Gracie, but I also had a soft spot for all the characters—this book does an outstanding job of examining the idea that none of us are all good or all evil. 

A word on Gracie's friend Walter—one thing I loved was how Walter was used to allow the skeptical reader a way into the story.  Walter is a boy of science, and not easily convinced that magic is possible. His skepticism allowed Gilboy to address the natural resistance we have (or I have) to magic. 

Another thing I loved about this book was the exploration of character. 

“All characters are real to the people who love them.”

I love this premise both as a reader and as a writer. As a child (ok, sometimes as an adult, too) I’ve fallen in love with characters and dreamed that their universe, just as real as mine, was only on the other side of this dimension, and if I tried hard enough, I could join them. 

As a writer, I often feel as if my characters keep me company, and refuse to do what I want them to—much like real people. When their stories are over, I miss them.  

It’s really intriguing to read this as  writer—the idea of writer as villain, but also the discussions of process—who we base characters on, why bad things happen to characters, etc. 

I've never read anything that really addressed this aspect of the writing/reading dynamic. It was so fresh. 

Look for my  review on my website, LaraLillibridge.com in my TBR Tuesdays column, scheduled for October 16, 2018.
Was this review helpful?
Unwritten was a solid children's fantasy that I would be happy to recommend to 10+ year old readers. The premise was interesting, the story was a bit more complex than initial impressions suggested, and the story was memorable. 

I will be adding a review to my library blog once the book arrives.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed the concept of this book more than I did the actual story unfortunately. The idea of storybook characters escaping from their book and changing their own destinies was fascinating but the promise never really bore fruition. I think that’s possibly because of the brevity of the book, more world building was definitely needed and I didn’t really have enough time to get to know the characters and to feel invested in what happened to them.
Was this review helpful?
3,5 stars

Unwritten is a pretty decent middle grade book about a young girl Gracie who actually comes from an unpublished story. When she confronts the author of her book, things start to go a bit wrong.  

I found that for a middle grade book with less than 200 pages it took quite a bit to get going. For a middle grade that can be a bit of a downfall as a lot of kids need a book to grab them immediately. I don’t feel like this book would do that. Even so once it does get truly going it keeps going until the very end. 

There are some interesting themes here regarding finding yourself when others want you to be something different, keeping secrets and what makes someone a villain. I am not often taken by plot twists but I wasn’t quite expecting the one we got here and I can only applaud the author for willing to take it in that direction. My only complaint would be that I think it lacked a little bit of depth. But that might be my adult heart talking. 

Talking about depth, I think Gracie didn’t come off as strong of the page as the author wanted. There is a lot of talk about what kind of a person Gracie is but I don’t always see it on the page. I think she was fairly mild in some responses to be honest compared to some kids I’ve been around. I don’t think she is quicker to anger than any average child. As for the characters surrounding her they lack a bit of depth, especially Walter for the role that he gets to play. 

Overall I think this is a middle grade with a great idea at its core but that lacks a little in execution and for that I think it might not be that memorable to the age group.
Was this review helpful?
There are some nice twists in this story. I figured out a few of them, but a few others turned out to be different from what I predicted. At times, the book almost felt like it was for an older audience, rather than for middle grade readers. I really liked the premise of the story, but it did make me feel guilty as a writer for any deaths that I have written about!

I would recommend this for readers who like fairy tales.
Was this review helpful?
What is not to love about Unwritten? This book was filled to the brim with magic. It’s a mix of a modern-day tale sucked into a fairytale and it is absolutely delightful. Unwritten was a relatively short read which I actually enjoyed, because it was able to keep the up the pace and make every moment one of excitement. It has twists and turns and an open ending. What’s going to happen to our characters? Will there be another book? Will the readers be able to decide that for themselves? We don’t know, and that’s part of the magic. I would highly recommend this story to the middle graders in your life, and to teachers and librarians looking to add a bit of a quick exciting fantasy for the young readers they know. I will have a full review on my blog this week.
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, atmosphere, and characters.  I would recommend the book to friends and family for their reading pleasure.
Was this review helpful?
Unwritten is an exciting, magical middle grade read about overcoming expectations and choosing your own destiny. It's meant for kids, yes, but tackles complex issues with heart and depth.

Gracie Freeman was born in a fairy tale. When she was just a baby, her mom used magic to transport them out of the story and into a normal life in Wisconsin. Now 12, Gracie wonders about the fairy tale world: who was she supposed to be? What mystery danger threatened her life, forcing them to flee their home and destinies? And what are these strange glimmers of fire, smoke, and a beautiful Queen that have long invaded her thoughts and dreams?

Tara Gilboy's Unwritten follows Gracie on her quest to find out where she came from, save her family and friends from peril, and figure out who she wants to be. Will she rise to the occasion and be the hero of her own story? Or is it possible she was meant to play the villain all along?

It's a fresh take on a story about stories. Unwritten asks readers to consider the weight of words, the implications of actions, and what it means to be good or bad, a hero or villain.  Readers will enjoy the solid writing, fast pace, and complex characters. This exciting, satisfying read is not to be missed.

Pub Date: 16 October 2018
Price: $11.99
ISBN: 9781631631771
Page count: 198 p
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

I received an ARC of this work from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars.

I enjoyed this adorable middle grade fantasy book. A lot. As always, I would have loved this so much more as a child, but adult me is excited to recommend this to every young fantasy lover I know. 

When Gracie meets the author who wrote her into existence, she thinks it may be time to discover just what her family escaped when they left the story. Instead, she finds herself flung back into a world where everything is far more complicated than her normal life.

I really loved that the author seems to take young readers seriously by trusting them to handle some difficult topics. Not every children's book gives children the opportunity to confront new problems and topics, but this book does in a simple and easy way. Young readers can confront murder, kidnapping, fleeing a terrible past, and parents figuring out their relationship in a safe and calming environment in this book.

Highly recommended for young fantasy readers.
Was this review helpful?
Arc provided by Netgalley, opinions are my own.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I read this book in one sitting, I decided to put myself in the mind of a ten year old. I grabbed some Oreos, drew a bubble bath, and got to reading. I liked it! It was the kind of book that didn’t ask too many questions, there wasn’t a lot of loose ends, and it was all wrapped up with a neat little ‘moral of the story’ bow. 

The only thing that’s keeping it from being 4.5-5 stars is how many times it says “Mom” when it could say she/her.
Was this review helpful?
I wish I could give 10 stars to this book!! I loved it so much. This book is amazing and perfect for the age group or anyone that enjoys this genre of book. It is highly recommended because of the fun read, fantastic characters and extremely creative story idea. As I read it I wanted to tell everyone about it!! This book is not be available yet, but I enjoyed it so much I have to let you know about it well in advance so you can get your preorder in as this will be a very popular book. I know I don't make that prediction very often, but this is a good one with everything you want -- fantasy, action and adventure. Preorder now to reserve your copy today!!
Was this review helpful?
4 stars!
ARC provided by NetGalley, opinions are my own.

This is a fun middle grade book about a girl, Gracie, who was pulled out of a fairytale she's never read before. Driven by a hunger to know what happens to herself in the story, Gracie goes to the author signing of the woman who wrote the story. What happens that fateful night kept me hooked for the remainder of the story, when Gracie has to figure out her own fairytale ending...

I really enjoyed this book, Gracie is a fun main character, and can be sassy at times. The characters weren't flimsy and the writing style was beautiful, and sucked me in just like fairytales do. I've always loved stories about characters being written in or out of worlds, and this was no exception. There were plot twists and darkness within this novel that I wasn't expecting, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. 

I'd highly recommend this book to parents of kids who want their child to be imaginative and inventive in figuring their way out of conflict, this is a great one. If the cover isn't enough to catch your attention, I hope my review helps.
Was this review helpful?
Gracie and her mom live her our world. But they haven't always. They traveled from Bondoff, a storybook land when Gracie was just a baby. She'd always wanted answers to why they fled Bondoff so when the author of her story visits a local bookstore she sneaks off to find answers. However things go terribly wrong when the author, Gertrude Winters accidentally gets sent to Bondoff. 

This was a super fun story that I think young readers will eat up! Not only will kids be able to relate to Gracie's struggle of trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be, but they'll also be able to relate to her family. As well as her hate/love friendship with Walter. Don't you remember your one friend from childhood you had that kind of relationship with as you both grew? 
My only problem with this book was I wanted more story from the storybook. More answers, more background, more of what Bondoff was like and how evil queen, Cassandra came to be seen as evil. 
I'm hoping there's more to come for these characters!
Was this review helpful?
Unwritten, by Tara Gilboy, is a fun-paced middle grade novel, whose premise is unique and catching. The plot of characters taken out of a story was a fresh concept, and the complexity of the characters made them feel real. While I loved this book, there are some ideas that need to be handled carefully when recommending this book to children. Some of the themes, such as why the "author" wrote the story and whom she modeled Gracie after could affect students the wrong way, especially if they are going through difficult times at home.  Gracie wasn't my most favorite character and I wished her story arc would've been spread evenly over the course of the story. It felt rushed, like she lingered on her old self too long. Gertrude was the most interesting to me, and her motives would be tougher for a younger audience to fully understand, as an adult I know the complexity behind her emotions and feelings. Overall, it was a fun read though a bit dark and serious.
Was this review helpful?
Gracie may look like an ordinary 12-year-old. She even acts ordinary, but she doesn’t feel ordinary, because Gracie Freeman was born in a book, in the land of Bondoff. She was a prominent character in the story, but her parents, along with a boy named Walter and his parents, fled the story with her when she was a baby when they discovered that Gracie was destined to die in the story. Gracie has grown up in the real world, but she’s been forbidden by her mother to do what she’s always wanted to: seek out the author of the book to find out what happens to her in the book, and who she is within its pages. But an accident finds the author in the story with no way out. Queen Cassandra, the villain of the story (who has the ability to travel between the story’s world and the real one with her most prized possession, an old book known as the Vademecum), has been looking for Gracie, but hasn’t found her location … yet, and the author might give it away. Then both Gracie’s and Walter’s parents end up trapped in the book, and Gracie and Walter journey after them. Pretty soon, though, Gracie’s sense of identity is shattered through a single shocking reveal. Will Gracie escape the book with her family and Walter’s, and will she be able to become more than the character she is in the story?
        I read this book in a single evening. I love how wonderfully Tara Gilboy (the author of this book) weaves the two main plots together: the external one of being stuck in the story, and the internal one, of Gracie struggling with her sense of self. There were some excellent twists in the story, and, although a few were a little too easy to anticipate (like Jacob’s identity), the main one that I mentioned earlier is thoroughly unexpected. Even though none of us (at least, probably) are really characters from stories, I’m sure many readers, perhaps especially the middle-grade audience this book targets, can identify with Gracie’s determination to find her true self. 
	I really liked this one line, near the end. Walter says it: “‘What if every story ever written is a world in another dimension, waiting for us to find it?’” Although this probably isn’t actually possible, the thought was wonderful to me, as a self-proclaimed Harry Potter geek and a writer myself. I’ve honestly had a pattern of taking an immediate liking to books that involve traveling into a book, like Inkheart, The Land of Stories series, and now there’s Unwritten. Shall I even mention that the cover is undeniably awesome (another thing it has in common with The Land of Stories)? 
	One of my only complaints is that the book ended so soon. I sincerely found it hard to put down, and it did one of the best things reading a book can do for an author: it inspired me to write more. I’d advise any fans of Inkheart – no, any avid readers of middle-grade in general – to keep a lookout for this book in stores and libraries, and hope that Tara Gilboy keeps writing. This is an excellent debut novel. Unwritten is a great read with interesting characters, especially the protagonist, a compelling and creative plot, and quality presentation (the cover and style) that does it all justice.
Was this review helpful?
Unwritten by Tara Gilboy 
Reviewed on Cole Campfire Blog, Friday August 31st. 

The premise of this story reminded me of a cross between Magic Treehouse meets The Chronicles of Narnia where there is a magic book and hidden fairytale land, and an evil queen out to get you. I was super excited to read it!

Gracie is a very likable and relatable character as she battles her self worth and choosing her identity. In the story Gracie finds out that she was from a fairy tale that her parents escaped from, and the author of the story is having a book signing in her town.

Since her mother hasn’t told her all that she wants to know about the book, and her past, she is compelled to find this author. Things don’t go as planned at the bookstore as everyone ends up in the fairytale and it’s up to Gracie to find their way out.

I absolutely loved this book! Not only is it a fun and entertaining story but I felt deeper messages tied in about self doubt, character, making peace with your past, and parental separation. I think lots of children in this age range can relate to the feelings Gracie has toward her absent father, and wanting to know details from their family’s past. Even for me I was taken back to being a kid as I read this story.

For children in this age range, I think it’s a wonderful read! Thank you to NetGalley, Flux and the author, Tara Gilboy for this advanced reader copy!
Was this review helpful?
This story takes place in our modern world but utilizes characters from a story-land place called Bondoff. From reading, I came to understand that Bondoff is a Lord of the Rings-esque kingdom written by a successful author who has no idea that her characters have broken through to live in her own world. However, Gracie, naturally curious and a bit devil may care when it comes to the rules, seeks out the author when she can't get the answers she wants from her mother. Gracie ends up in over her head when Ms. Winters, the author, goes missing at the signing after touching something Gracie gives her. 
This book was full of promise. Gracie's a rebellious and courageous young girl with a strong ethos she doesn't know she possesses. Bondoff seems like a magical place despite the characters', and Gracie's mom specifically, aversion to it. Mystery surrounds the identity of Gracie's father, and whether he is alive or dead, good or bad, is something Gracie will have to grapple with in order to find out who she really is. 
My criticism lies not in the basics, the grammar, storytelling, or character dynamics. Those things are all solid. Where I struggled a bit with this book was developing connection to the characters. Maybe it was because I'm an adult and Gracie and Walter are just at a different life stage than both my children and me. Yet, reading this I felt very similar to the way I felt while watching the show I've abandoned, 'Once Upon A Time.' At the outset I expected to really like it, to see childhood staples come to life off the page. In reality though, the characters just didn't have the same enchantment I wanted in them. Also like the show, just because I didn't love it doesn't mean you won't. The writing is good, the pace is smooth but quick, and the author doubtlessly has chops.
Was this review helpful?
A super-cute fairy tale read that had a lot more depth to it than I was expecting. The story follows Gracie, who has always known that she and her mother escaped an evil villain in a fairy tale. Her mother managed to get her out of the fairy tale world and into the real world when Gracie was still a baby, before the awful fate that the author wrote for them could be played out. Gracie’s curiosity gets the best of her, though, and she talks to the author (who has no idea that her characters are alive), sending her to the fairy tale world.

Once she gets there, she realizes that everything she’s been told about the world is not exactly as she’d been led to believe. Her relationships with her family get very complicated and she even has to face some possible ugly truths about herself. The story is full of twists that I didn’t see coming, and quite a bit of character growth. It’s the type of book that you don’t want to put down, and I highly recommend it!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Was this review helpful?