Cover Image: Unwritten


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

3.5 Stars

It's hard when all your early life memories and mementos indicate that you were a character in a book, rescued and brought to life. It's even worse when you confront your reluctant author with the intent of just getting a bit more information and she signs her autograph and disappears in a poof!, leaving you as the last person that saw her. Things can only go downhill from this point on, as Gracie and her author Gertrude Winters try to set things straight with the world of Bondoff.

This is a charming children's story sure to be enjoyed by fans of the Inkheart series.
Was this review helpful?
I do not read much Middle Grade but Unwritten really sounded like a cute little story that I wanted to inhale. And I did. The idea to have characters in a book come to life in the real world was really fun to follow. I also really enjoyed all the characters that we encountered. In the end, I believe that this book is a great lesson ans eye-opener for middle grade kids about good and bad, what makes a person a villain, and how you can take your own destiny in yuor hands and not be stuck in how pre-determined your life is.
It is a fun book with a very important message that I stand behind 100%. Villains are interesting characters and I appreciate this double look at these villains.
And this is the only thing I personally would have liked a little bit more in depth: I would have loved to get to know Cassandra a little bit more and to understand her motivation a little bit more. If the other would have been able to make me fall in love and completely understand her at the end, this would have been a great addition to the message.

Overall I truly recommend this read to middle grade reaeders who like fantastic stories.

Thank you to netgalley/the publisher for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book has a lovely story and reads so nicely, but it was not for me. Perhaps I was not in the mood for YA, but I couldn't relate to Gracie much, and ended up not finishing the book.
Was this review helpful?
This is the story of a book character, Gracie, living in our world, going on an adventure to figure out who she would have been in her original narrative. If you are still with me after that, you know this quest is going to give Gracie some hurdles to overcome. Luckily I can tell you that reading to find out alongside Gracie is definitely worth the journey.

10-year-old me would have LOVED this story and I still really really enjoyed this tale at 25. Of course we are all the main character in our life narratives, but Gracie actually has a story about herself to discover. 

The end was slightly unsatisfactory for me, but it definitely leaves room for a second installment or your own daydream endings ;)
Was this review helpful?
I got an ARC copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for honest review. Thank you for providing me this ARC.

First of all, I'd like to say that I love this cover so much! It's so Disneyish. Then, I read the synopsis and thought that it was the one. And it reminded me of Inkheart trilogy (my fav trilogy). So, I asked to review this book on Netgalley.

It's a story about Gracie, an eleven year old girl. Gracie lives with her mom without knowing her actual dad in the real world. Gracie goes to the story world with Walter which is in Bondoff to seek for her disappeared mother, and Walter's parents. And also to seek truth about the story. She finds many adventures and challenges there.

I really like tgis book, though sometimes it confuses me with some of uneffective sentences. It bores me at first. Yet, as the story goes by, I can get into the book. Kids absolutely will love it.

Thank you for writing this book! :)
Was this review helpful?
How many times have book characters seemed so real that we felt like we might meet them in our day-to-day lives?  Tara Gilboy must have felt that, because that is exactly what she creates in her new middle grade novel, UNWRITTEN. 

Gracie Freeman is an eleven-year-old with a secret …. she is a story book character, living in the real world.  Although she was a small child when her parents rescued her from her story book fate —death at the hands of an evil queen! —she has few memories of her life before.  However, she is having nightmares that are haunting her and making her curious about how the author had written her character.  The inquisitive tween’s mother won’t answer any more questions, but, as luck would have it, Gertrude Winters, the author of her story, is in town for a book signing.  Who better to answer Gracie’s questions?  What harm could come from confronting the author herself?  

For those thinking that the fairy-tale genre has run its course, give Gilboy’s book a try.  This is an inventive story line with strong characterization.  The author deals with issues of identity, family secrets and fate in this edge-or-your-seat fantasy adventure.  It’s a great addition to the MG literary world.

Thank you NetGalley, Jolly Fish Press, and Tara Gilboy for the eARC.  I have copies on order for my library and cannot wait to recommend  UNWRITTEN to my students.
Was this review helpful?
What I Liked
The concept of being a storybook character in hiding in the real world is so fun! I laughed out loud at her interaction with her story's author, Gertrude Winters, at the book signing. It was so awkward and weird, but so cute too. Gracie is set up as likable and sweet, so later when she's in the story world and her true nature starts to come out, the reader can still root for her.
What I Would Have Liked To See
A little bit more explanation of how various things worked would have been nice, but that's just me being nosy.
My Favorite!
Cassandra! I agree with Gertrude Winters: villains really are the best. I liked that Cassandra wasn't plotting world domination or anything. She was just a queen who was also uhhhh a bit of a control freak.
Storybook character-in-hiding must travel to the story world to save the author that killed her . . . or did she? A fun adventure for readers in the 8-12 age range!
Was this review helpful?
When I received this book from Netgalley, I was so excited! The synopsis gave me major Inkheart vibes (if you didn't know, the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke is a favorite of mine) and I had a lot of expectations for this book! However, most of my expectations weren't met, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing!
  I actually really liked the characters, though the parents frustrated me at times... But I think they were meant to. They did all have flaws, but it didn't make them unlikable, and it helped towards their character development!
  The writing style was a little strange at times, like using 'said' three or four times in a row and repeatedly calling Gertrude Winters by her full name, which made it sound kind of repetitive, but given the intended age group, I was able to overlook most of it.
  The storyline actually surprised me! I was expecting something completely different (I think I misread part of the synopsis) but the actual plot pulled me in immediately! There was definitely a lot going on the whole time, even if it was just inside Gracie's thoughts, and I don't think there was ever a time where I was bored with the story! The plot twist definitely surprised me; didn't see that one coming at all, and I can usually predict plot twists! Along with the plot twist, this book was actually a lot darker than I was expecting from a middle grade! Let's just say that attempted murder by a pre-teen is not usually in a middle grade and it surprised me, but the plot definitely wouldn't have been the same without the darkness. XD
  I gotta admit, this book made me guilty to be an author. All this about how the characters are people too and just thinking about what writers put their characters through, it's easy to see why the characters would absolutely hate their authors if they ever actually met them. Not that I'll be changing my writing style because of that or anything. XD
  Honestly, this book probably would have been a four star if not for the ending... I haven't seen anything about this book being the first in a series, but I really wish it was because the ending was not at all satisfying as a standalone... It was actually pretty open-ended as if there was an intended sequel. Maybe it's meant to be left to the reader's imagination on what happens next?
  All in all, this was a pretty good middle grade fantasy! I would definitely read more of this author someday!
Was this review helpful?
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I struggled getting into this book. I had a hard time with a 12 year being written as a villain. She was more self absorbed, know it all. and selfish then any 12 year I’ve known. It was so over the top for me.
Was this review helpful?
Unwritten was a super fast book to read. It was short and left me wanting more but I really loved what I read. I hope we get to read more of this magical storyline. Kid will love this series and grab it up if they get a chance. I hope school libraries and local libraries buy a copy of this book to have on their shelves
Was this review helpful?
What a cute story! I really felt like I got to know Gracie the most, both her past life and her current life. Some of the secondary characters were not as developed, but this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel. 

When looking at the plot, I found the revealing of Gracie’s situation and why her mom’s hidden something from her was done cleverly. The only gripe I had was the book’s beginning. I found it to be slower paced than I would have liked. However, once Gracie began to put the pieces of her old life together, my interest rose and I just wanted to keep reading. The author did leave the ending a bit ambiguous and it is unclear if Gracie’s story will continue or perhaps it’s up to the reader to write their own ending.

The theme of identity was a big one here. Gracie was constantly trying to figure who she really was and who the character that Gertrude had written about. Then, there was Walter, her friend, who’s life was turned upside when he learned that he was originally a storybook character. In regards to this theme, one of my favorite aspects here was how Gracie couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. The author realistically portrayed Gracie’s confusion and her path to learning her true identity.

Overall, even with its slow beginning, I found this to be a creative and exciting tale and would look for more books by this author. Children, and those young at heart, would enjoy this tale of a young girl learning her true self.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the cover of this book and I was curious to know the story. I liked the way the writer led Gracie's curiosity, the longing to know about her story and found the plot of mystery, magic and suspense very creative and attractive.
Ideal for kids...
Was this review helpful?
The story: Gracie is your typical twelve-year-old, unless you count the fact that she’s actually a character from a fantasy novel, and she still regularly dreams about her past life when she lived in the book. According to her mother, she and Gracie needed to escape the story so that Gracie wouldn’t die. In a fit of adolescent rebellion, Gracie sneaks out to meet the author of her book, and things take a turn from there. What follows is Gracie’s adventure as she starts to face her destiny as a character from a book, and her attempts to change her fate. But if your destiny is written down in black and white between the covers of a book, what chance do you actually have to change anything?

The verdict: First off – how about that cover art! Also: Tara Gilboy has written a great story. Young adults reading this book can really dig in to Gracie’s struggle to find her place, feeling like she doesn’t belong in the world she’s in. I might be well past my young adult years, but I remember that struggle of trying to figure who I was and what my place in the world was. I enjoyed the way that Gracie acted when she thought she had finally gotten what she wanted; was she really going to be happy? None of the choices for Gracie are easy, and it is clear that she still has some searching to do to find out who she really is, and how she will write the rest of her story. Pick it up and read it with your kids!
Was this review helpful?
Don’t take the tone of this book from the Disney-looking cover – this book is a lot grittier than the cover design suggests. Gracie’s flashbacks of being in a fire become increasingly upsetting, so when random chance gives her a chance to track down the author of the unpublished book containing her story, she tracks her down.

I like this treatment of the classic portal fantasy trope – it works well. The bewilderment of the well-known author at Gracie’s odd questions and keenness to distance herself from the intense, peculiar girl works really well. Gracie isn’t all that likeable at time – she’s prickly, secretive and prone to lying which is something of a risk, given that children generally prefer a nicer protagonist. However, this is one of the main themes of the book – who is the villain in this story?

There is a lot going on in this thoughtful, well-crafted story. The archetypal wicked queen isn’t as much of a pantomime villain as Gracie first thought. And what about her parents’ behaviour? Her mother’s stubborn refusal to discuss any of the weirdness poor Gracie keeps encountering is at worst selfishly stupid and at best short-sighted; while Gracie’s father opts to stay out of her life. Again, not exactly stepping up to the plate, is he? The adventure deals with some hefty issues with Gracie making some an unpleasant discovery about her own role as the royal princess in the story.

As a children’s adventure tale, it has been brought to a satisfactory, reasonably upbeat conclusion. I have found myself thinking a lot about this thought-provoking and intelligently written story that I think would be an ideal book to be read and examined as a class project.
While I obtained an arc of Unwritten from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
Was this review helpful?
Grace Freeman occasionally has very vivid nightmares that were flashes of the life she would have led if she had remained within the story world she was originally part of. Her mother had escaped into the "real world," and had hidden the part of the book that they had come from. Gracie can't help but wonder who she was "supposed" to be in that story, and seeking out information about that winds up drawing everyone that left back into the story. She doesn't know who she is anymore: the Gracie of the real world or that of the story, which is drawing ever closer to its ending.

While we often think of story characters as real people while we're reading the book, here is a school-age novel addressing the question about what makes them real. Are people destined to be what was written about them, or can they change their fate to create something new? Grace is twelve, so this is a very weighty topic for her to broach, and she's the one in charge of her own actions here. The adults around her have tried to withhold the truth or manipulate her understanding of the situation. As much as it frightens her, Grace is far stronger emotionally than she really thinks she is. She makes some impulsive decisions, such as meeting the author over her mother's objections at the start of the book, but also very mature ones as well.

Grace is a wonderful character to get to know, especially as she struggles with the frightening impulses to act in the ways she originally was written in the story. Queen Cassandra was a fairly one-note villain, though that didn't stop her from feeling almost creepy in her interest in Grace. As relentless as Cassandra's power seemed, Grace was able to keep it together throughout the novel and push hard to assert herself. This is certainly a great takeaway for girls her age to have.

It ended a little differently than I expected, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It could very well be the opening to a sequel story if the author wants to go there. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to seeing more of Grace in the future!
Was this review helpful?
I’ve read books where characters are pulled out of a story only to end up going back where they belong. I’ve read books where the protagonist somehow falls into a book and is grateful to escape back to reality. I’ve never read one before where the heroes belong in a story but choose something else; emigrating from one reality to another. 

Gracie’s known for a long time that she is a storybook character. She and her mother escaped their story, where people don’t have the freedom to choose their future or even their behaviour, along with another family into the world of their author. Gracie’s a little (maybe more than a little) obsessed with knowing what happens. All her mother will tell her is that she was supposed to die and, really, what kind of monster writes about children dying!!! She refuses to tell Gracie anything else except that she can be whoever she wants to be. Which means Gracie doesn’t know the old parchment she takes to her author’s book reading is magic. Or that writing her name on it will take her back to that terrible place. Which is exactly what the AUTHOR does, disappearing right in front of Gracie and beginning a series of events that bring all of them back to their homebook. 

Thanks to parents that wouldn’t just give in to fate or fear, Gracie’s reality even within her story has the chance to change. She is still so much like the girl her author designed: obsessed with her story, angry and temperamental but, because of her father’s bravery and her mother’s love and care, Grace has the chance to become something beyond her role. She has compassion and love and help. She also knows enough about the story that she can fight against what she is supposed to become. Like her mother told her, she can be whoever she wants to be. 

Unwritten is a great middle school read about the importance of supportive friends and family, bravery, love, determination, and fighting for what you know is good even against your own self.
Was this review helpful?
After years of terrible nightmares, Gracie’s mother explains the truth: they are both characters from a story, escaping to avoid the horrible fate written for her. Try as she might to live a normal life, Gracie is plagued by ‘glimmers’ of story: things she should have done, if the book hadn’t been interrupted.

And then one day the book’s author comes to town to give a talk. Will Gracie finally find out who she was meant to be? What if story-Gracie isn’t the same person as she thinks she is, out in the real world – which side is true?

I love books about books, and am clearly not alone in this. Tara Gilboy has written a wonderful fantasy about characters moving in and out of their story, and how this changes their lives in both locations. There’s a strong theme of what it means to be labelled, and how you can choose to fight that label and ‘fate’ and live your own life.

The author in the book says that villians are often the most interesting characters, and while that’s not strictly speaking true here, I did like the fact that none of the characters is always nice, each with flaws to overcome (or not).

Excellent premise, nicely written. Recommended for younger readers, and those young at heart.
Was this review helpful?
I quite enjoyed this remarkable tale! The premise really intrigued me, but I wasn't sure if I'd like the actual story. Often middle grade novels can be a bit on the boring side and are just too predictable. This book, however, was anything but! While it was an easy read with language that just flowed and encouraged you to keep going, it actually contained a rather complex plot. The characters seemed rather superficial at first, especially the main protagonist, Gracie, who sets in motion the events that cause all the trouble that results. Given that they are supposedly animated personalities who originally starred in a book that even the author considers badly written, all have a remarkable depth of spirit. Some aspects of the tale within the tale are just heart-wrenching, as are the real-life situations that gave rise to them. The biggest take-away for me was the idea put forth by the author of the magical tale within the book: No one actually thinks of herself as a villain. We are all the heroes in our own stories. That Gracie was not only able but also willing to save the life of the woman most considered the villain of the story, but go so far as to consider her feelings, showed just how much this young woman had matured during the short course of the tale. While there was definitely a huge opening left for at least a sequel (if not more episodes in the series), the ending was at least sufficient to make it feel like a resolution and enjoyable enough to be called a "happily ever after" (or at least "happy for now").
Was this review helpful?
I was curious about Unwritten as a potential gift for my niece. It's the right age level and is fantasy-ish which is right up her alley. I think this one is a good gift idea. 

As an adult, I found the book very childish, but for a YA reader, especially one roughly the same age as Gracie who is learning about who she wants to be and how to be that person, I think this a great book. It's fun and crazy. It's emotional and difficult. It has quiet lessons that are obscured by the story but still recognizable without being preachy.

At 12, Gracie just wants to know who she is. She knows she was a character in a story but she doesn't know what the story said about her. It's become an obsession for her to find out. But, in trying to discover who she is meant to be, she precipitates events that almost destroy her life and the lives of those she loves. She also learns a valuable lesson: no one - not even the author who wrote her - can make her be something she doesn't want to be. She can choose and she has agency. 

As far as fairy tales or folk tales go, this is a good modern one. I liked how it incorporated elements of traditional stories but without either mocking them or treating them as sacrosanct. It's very modern but traditional as well. 

Most importantly, I liked how the author of Gracie's book describes Gracie and how Gracie and her parents refute that. But I also liked the author's stance on villains vs. heroes in fairy stories and other tales. 

This is a quick read for an adult but would likely take several days for a young adult to read. It had good pacing and wasn't uneven. There were a couple moments where it lagged a bit, but it never raced too fast. Overall, a solid book and an author I will be watching for my niece.
Was this review helpful?
This is the story of a young girl named Gracie, who was originally a character in a storybook, but magically finds herself written into the real world! 

Unwritten was a short, cute, and magical little Middle Grade book! I would have loved to have read something like this when I was younger. The premise of a character being lost outside of their own world was interesting, and I’m sure young readers will enjoy this novel too. 

This book also includes plot twists and surprises that caught me a bit off guard. Need I say more? 

4 stars!
Was this review helpful?