While I enjoyed the art, I have to admit that this felt very much like I’ve read this story before: there were no hooks, no world building, and no real character development. Girl gets magical book, changes her world with bad repercussions, and then stops using the book when she realizes she has it pretty decent already. Cue mean girls, bullying, typical nerdy but faithful/good best friend and this feels like a rejected script for a Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode.
Story: Willow feels like an oddball – bullied by the pretty/popular, overlooked and unattractive with short hair and pimples, and just wanting to get through high school. When she stumbles upon a secret room in the library with strange books in them, she finds one with her name and her history in it. So she takes a chance and rewrites her future in the book – alienating her best friend and making her feel horrible about herself for being shallow. But the book has a way to protect itself from overuse – and Willow is going to have to face the consequences.
So yes, there’s nothing new here. Mean but pretty girl spends most of the day harassing the nerds (including Willow and her friend Georgia). In the city library, there’s an unexplained secret room with unexplained books, in which Willow miraculously finds hers despite there being thousands in there, one for every person in the entire city. We don’t get any backstory or world building – we don’t even get to see what Willow writes in her book. She just shows up with no pimples, better clothes, and the cool guy is suddenly hitting on her. It felt so underwritten and underwhelming.
The characters were high school cliches – pretty b****, shallow and stupid sycophant of the pretty B, cute but stupid popular guy, and nerdy best friend who is incredibly nice and well grounded despite the bullying. The lack of imagination in the characters, that they didn’t really grow through the series (except perhaps remorseful at the end), and that there really weren’t any lasting repercussions were rather disappointing. In a way, Willow got to have her cake and eat it too and everything works out at the end.
The art is decent and the style changes shown at the end as the story evolved over the years were interesting. The story was easy to follow and wasn’t overly dialogue heavy. But it didn’t help elevate the characters above being caricatures, either. It was all so painfully earnest.
In all, it’s a book I read and will honestly soon forget. I was left wanting more depth in the story and nuance in the characters. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.