All right: voice. I really don't know what makes it work, but this one didn't. It felt like I had to stumble over every sentence, trying to find out what kind of person Nina was through her words and actions. Before, I hadn't experienced the trouble other book bloggers have described in not "getting" the protag, but XVI cleared that right up for me.
That's not a good thing.
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
This, I'm pretty sure, is a case of adult fiction writers turning to the children's market. Sometimes people can pull it off with aplomb (just look at Jane Smiley's The Georges and the Jewels). And sometimes they can't. For example, Meloy would say a term most probably unfamiliar to today's kids, like viscount, and follow it up with, "I now know that viscount is a..." blah blah blah, basically interrupting her narrative to explain what it was. 0_o Did no one tell her that the first rule in MG is that you DO NOT talk down to your readers?
Okay, I received this as an ARC, but let me tell you: it had the WORST repeated typo in the history of ARCs. Every time a word was supposed to contain the letters "ost", instead they were replaced with "East", so I was reading "lEast" and "mEast". My God. ANNOYING. Yes, annoying enough to make me drop it. Plus, the anthropomorphism wasn't working for me. But the typos...! Unbelievable. *holds head*
(PS: It was a hardcover ARC. Stranger and stranger.)
What makes or breaks a book for you?