Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral (iPhone App Edition)

PhotobucketChopsticks by Jessica Anthony, illustrated by Rodrigo Corral

Publisher: Razorbill/PenguinTeen
Release Date: February 2, 2012
Format: iPhone App
Source: Bought
Age Level: Young Adult
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Buy: iTunesAmazon | IndieBound

After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song "Chopsticks."
But nothing is what it seems, and Glory's reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it's up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along... (Goodreads)

Chopsitcks is a novel where the written story is very much secondary to the format. I read this story via its iPhone app, which is such a unique way to experience a book! The story is told with pictures, notes, letters, music, instant messaging conversations, and YouTube videos laid out scrapbook style. The book app is interactive, but you can simply flip through the pages in order or randomly if you’d like. Or, you can do what I did, and slowly explore each page (in order) – tapping the page to move things to discover what’s underneath, listening to the music, and watching the videos.

Chopsticks is both a love story and a mystery. I think readers could look through it a second time and experience it differently; and it would have a different ending. Glory is a teenage piano prodigy who falls in love with Francisco, the boy who moves in next door. Her father is both her piano teacher and manager, and forces her to go on a European tour – partly for her career, but mostly to separate her and Frank.

While on tour Glory begins to mentally spiral and starts only being able to play chopsticks at all her performances. Frank is the only one who can calm her, but the more intense their relationship becomes, the worse Glory gets… and the lines between real and imagined become blurred.

Chopsticks is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while. I’ve already gone back through it again, trying to gleam more from all the material. My only complaint with the iPhone app is that not all the videos would play for me. Some worked, some didn’t and I couldn’t figure out why. I emailed the app developers but I haven’t heard back yet. I really don’t believe I missed any part of the story by not being able to view all the videos, but it was an annoyance.

The only reason I didn’t rate this book higher is because though I loved the scrapbook style of the novel, I didn’t feel as emotionally tied to the characters as I usually do with books you read. I could sense Glory’s ups and downs, happiness and sadness, but I didn’t feel connected to her. Instead I felt like a detective, trying to solve her mystery – which was great in its own way.

I really enjoyed exploring this book, and highly recommend both the hardcover and iPad/iPhone app editions, for the experience and the story!

Check out the awesome book trailer:

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