Cover Image: Breaking Badlands

Breaking Badlands

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley & Crown Books for Young Readers for the early copy in exchange for an honest review. Sadly, I could not keep reading past 20%.

This is the third in a chapter book series, Indira has saved Imagination twice and is now on a sweet, sweet chill vacation. Until destiny comes a'knocking with a new adventure for her.

I was able to follow along despite not having read the first two books, but I couldn't stand Indira as a protagonist and the other two guys fighting for her affections didn't help either. I am not a fan of love triangles...at all. It didn't help when Indira complained about love triangles but still enabled the guys to be annoying and compete with each other... Ugh. I hope it gets better later but I just didn't want to deal with it.

I do really find the book super creative with how meta it is and all the creative locations, the love triangle was just a huge turn-off for me.
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Breaking Badlands was the perfect addition to this series. I absolutely loved getting to see Indira (or Indigo) getting a little in touch with her dark side. It made the whole story so refreshing and was a great way to build on this intriguing world. Again, I appreciated the gaming type elements as she and her group are playing to win in the Badlands. I was also glad to see a little more of her trying to process her crush(es). Looking forward to more from this series!.
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What a fun action packed series! This feels like a guaranteed hit for kids who says they "don't like to read".
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This is a Middle Grade Fantast, and this is the third book in the Talespinners series. I do not know if it is because I have not read the first two in this series. I just could  not get into this book. The writing style and the storyline was just not for me. I received an ARC of this book. This review is my own honest opinion about the book like all my reviews are.
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<i>"Indira smiled as she spoke. 'We're good guys with a dark side.'
'Bad guys with a soft spot,' Peeve added.
'Not all dark. Not all light.'
'We're something in the middle.'"</i>

TL;DR: I laughed. I cried. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book because I couldn't put it down. (And got a little bit grumpy because I couldn't just drop everything and finish it.) 
<b>I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.</b>

Vibes: Like a version of Marvel's "What If" based on the premise, <i>"What if we could go back and *not* sort too soon so that we could showcase some of those mythical-unicorn-Slytherins who are supposedly not all bad?"</i> + Jasper Fforde's <i>The Eyre Affair</i>. (But with tighter storytelling, because things got away from Fforde.) 

Genre: Middle-grade fantasy. 
Third -- and final -- book in the Talespinners series. 

Character MVP: Two-way tie between the Sorting Hate and Deus Ex Machina (who still gives me <i>Curse of the Black Pearl</i> Captain Jack vibes. *shrug* It is what it is.). The chapters where (1) Indira meets the Sorting Hate and (2) where Deus Ex Machina...meets the librarian, are my favorite in the book, I think. 

Verdict: 5 / 5 stars for me. Can I go higher? 5.5 / 5 stars? I...unequivocally love this book, this series. Mainly, I think, because it reminds me of why I love reading and the joy we get from stories and from story-telling. 

As with the previous two books: <i>Goodreads reminded me of what I loved so much about Saving Fable:
To be fair, it has several elements which are automatic pluses for me:
--Meta-commentary in the form of characters who *know* they're characters in a book (I'm looking at you, Thursday Next): ✔︎
--Authors who break the Fourth Wall and directly address the reader: ✔︎
--Strong Female Character: ✔︎
--NO LOVE TRIANGLE 🎉: ✔︎</i>

All of this still hold true. 
(1) We get references to our favorite literary characters -- Alice and Juliet return -- and we get a new addition in Iago. Who, I might add, is one of my favorites, both the sarcastic parrot* in <i>Aladdin</i> and the Shakespearean villain. One of my favorite pre-Covid memories was taking my husband to the Globe on his first trip to England, and we saw Mark Rylance as Iago and it was absolutely amazing. (And I'm sorry, but having Mark Rylance in your head is never a bad thing.) 
*At one point, Indira exclaims "I'm not a prize to be won." That's *GOT* to be a Jasmine reference, right??
(2) We still break the 4th Wall -- most hilariously at the end.
(3) We get not one, but two, strong female characters who save the today together. AND Peeve returns, which I have been waiting for.
(4) STILL NO LOVE TRIANGLE! 🎉
I mean, SORT OF, but NOT REALLY. Kudos, Scott. You did twist it. :) 

But, more than anything, I loved how this installment moves past the Good/Evil binary and acknowledges the nuances in us all. It's a logical end to the trilogy, and concludes about as satisfying as a reader could hope for, but more than that, it grows with its younger readers. As much as I love Disney, the world is not a Disney movie where Villains are unabashedly evil and easy to recognize with their all-black apparel, creepy animal sidekick, and omnipresent lime green glow. My favorite characters (aside from the Hermiones, Lizzie Bennets, Matildas, Elsas, Ariels, and Tinkerbells that I identify with one deeply personal levels) are the nuanced, morally gray ones: Severus Snape, my girl Dany Targaryen, Regina (from <i>Once Upon A Time</i>), Killmonger, Heathcliff & Mr. Rochester & Mr. Darcy and basically every literary vampire ever. Characters -- *people* -- are complex, and don't fit neatly into black or white boxes. 

Which goes nicely with the idea that one action -- one mistake, one misstep -- doesn't define us. And while I think that's definitely an important message for a middle-grade/YA crowd to hear, it's also one that people of every age can, and should, hear. It's one I've been turning over a lot lately as a parent, where I go to bed pretty much every night thinking, "Damn. I could have done better today." 

All that to say, I can't wait to share Indira's story with my own kids. 

<b>Highlights</b> 
--<b>The Moment I Cried:</b> <i>"She liked the emblem for this particular store: a red-painted quail with a book clutched in one talon, quietly reading."</i> Highly personal, because this is something of a deep cut. But when I was in grad school at NCSU and the world just felt...too much, I would go to Quail Ridge (in its old, OG location) and just pull sit there and read. It was a comfort bookstore for me, in a way that only a local, independent bookstore can be. I went to Barnes & Noble, sure, but that was mainly to work because (1) WiFi and (2) coffee. So this was a particularly heart-tugging reference for me. 
--I've been fortunate enough to cross paths with two wonderful human beings, both of whom write middle-grade books, and I think both of them shared similar stories about going into bookstores and finding where their books would go on the shelves, as Viola does here in the last chapter. It's not, I think, particularly unique to them, but that moment just made me think of both of them. 
--<b>Do We Have To Read The Kissing Parts? </b>A genuine LOL moment with Maxi-the-editor's insistence that this is, apparently, a Kissing Book.
--<b>Is That A School or a Disease? </b>Another genuine LOL moment where the Sorting Hate proposes names. 
--<b>I Sometimes Think We Sort Too Soon:</b> the <i>Harry Potter</i> references have always been strong, but given my love for Snape as a character, that moment in DH was one of my favorites, and one of the ones that stuck me long after the series ended. And I really kinda love how that's kinda one of the main points of this book. (I have a soft spot for bad guys with a soft spot. I wrote my MA Thesis on Byronic Heroes after all.) 
--<b>Spinoff Potential:</b> Sauron / Miss Trunchbull was a pairing I didn't know I needed until tonight. 
--<b>Tell Me You're A Parent Without Telling Me You're A Parent:</b> Like, OF COURSE Patch would know the Baby Shark song. That dang song lives in my head rent free and I don't know how to evict it.
Also, as someone whose children consume an INSANE amount of Paw Patrol, I couldn't help but picture Everest in his wolf form as basically the husky on Paw Patrol. So...there's that. *facepalm*
--<b>I'm Not Going To Stop The Wheel, I'm Going To Break The Wheel:</b> I knew I liked Peeve, but when she pulled a full Danerys Targaryen? My love solidified. 
--<b>No Mourners, No Funerals:</b> Surprise appearance (sort of) by Kaz Brekker! My fangirl heart giggled giddily when I saw that reference. Perhaps our favorite Crow got his story *after* the changes in this book, because the Crows, while anti-heroes, are definitely the protagonists...
--<b>Ashlords: </b> I see you, sly sneaky reference to a certain duology...
--<b>Not Slytherin</b>: I mentioned this above, but the Sorting Hate is one of my favorite characters in this book. So when he dons a wizard hat and starts pondering about how Indira would do well in a any number of places... #Potterhead
--<b>So We Beat On, Boats Against The Current:</b> A genuine LOL moment with the reference to Gatsby and that green light in the Escape Room. 
--<b>And Now, The Fish Slapping Dance: </b> Please, please, please let this be a reference to Monty Python. My love for them knows no bounds.
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Loved it! If you love fairy tales you need to read this series! This entire series is a love letter to stories and the things that make readers love them. I love the references to popular series, many of which I've read myself. I also love that each element that makes up a story is either a character or an element in these books. The author was so creative in how he put this whole series together and I can't recommend it enough. This may be targeted towards middle grade readers but I recommend it to book lovers of all ages. A good story is a good story no matter how old you are!

This is the third and final installment of the Tailspinners series, but I feel like each of the stories can be read as a standalone. I adored Saving Fable and Escaping Ordinary, so I highly recommend reading them, I think you could get away with starting anywhere in the series. I'm a bit of a traditionalist so I like to read things in order, but if you started with this one I think you'd be OK. The author does a great job giving you enough back story from the previous books so you don't feel confused. It has been quite some time since I've read either of them, and I was able to read on without breaking out my copies to refresh my memory.

This final installment takes Indira on a much different quest than we've seen in the past. She yet again has to save Fable and much like in the past she has her friends at her side to help her. This time she has to go into the unknown of Fester, where the antagonists live and train for parts in stories. While there Indira learns that not everything in Fable and Fester is as black and white as it has been made out to be, and with the help of an unlikely aide she learns that the key to saving Fable, her friends, and stories in general might be a little grey. I don't want to spoil anything.

I loved that we got to travel to Fester and see Indira play a bit of a different character in this book. We also go to see the villians in action. There were some great action scenes and some great characters in this. We also have appearances from our beloved characters from the previous books that India wouldn't have been able to be the hero she is today had it not been for them. They all play a critical part in this story and there are some pretty good twists that I didn't see coming.

Thank you to Netgalley and Crown Books for Young Readers for providing me an ARC. I'm honored I got to be a part of Indira's journey! All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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I received an electronic ARC from Random House Children's Publishing through NetGalley.
This three book story wraps well. Readers see Indira take on a mission to protect both Fable and Fester from serious evil. She goes undercover as Indigo and unleashes her "bad side" to infiltrate Antagonist Academy and stop the plot to take over all stories. Together with Phoenix and Everest, she moves through the Badland challenges to capture the ruling scepter. Sadly, and as readers expect, very few are as they seem and she is caught under a spell and betrayed. Her rescue comes from an unexpected source though the first chapter hints at this. Peeve Meadows returns and becomes involved in the final battles to protect all characters from harm. Indira and she join together and create a new world for characters to explore themselves and choose who they want to be. 
I appreciate the way Reintgen weaves his plots together and offers just enough hints for readers who have followed the entire series. I plan to reread all three together to see the points I may have missed or forgotten. Readers will see affirmation that everyone should be able to choose their paths and no one should be judged based on one incident. The characters shatter rigid expectations and rework their world so that every character has the option to learn and grow.
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This third and final book in the Tale Spinners trilogy is a fun conclusion to this middle-grade metafiction series.  I would recommend it to fans of The School for Good and Evil (fans will enjoy an allusion to that series in one of the final chapters) or The Story Thieves.
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