Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Waterfall - Lisa T.Bergren

Title - Waterfall
Author - Lisa T.Bergren
Text Type - Historical Fantasy

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision that something is more important than fear.” 

Greek mythology seems to be a favored prerequisite for a fantastic historical novel in young adult literature. For a great reason too, for it fascinates me to no end. I simply indulge in reading and discovering different interpretations of these myths because every tale leads me down a different but equally profound thought path. But never did I think that Italian history could create such a similar impact, something that Waterfall has so convincingly done. Bergren shows great skill in her light references to the old Italian politics, infusing it with the much anticipated romance ideas and love themes. Her modern day protagonist shows a fair amount of similarities to what we would think in a comparable circumstance, providing a much better way for us to accept Bergren's insight that she communicates. I found it easy to share her perspective through the first person narration of a strong, courageous female that she has created. Still, the themes of not only romantic love but passionate family love are not overlooked as the story progresses. Readers such as myself who constantly search for books with thought prompting ideas that stay in your mind well after the novel has ended would be truly satisfied with this rare treat.

I must say, I was weary to head into a new culture path. More accurately, I was worried about taking on a new load of history about a country that I have never seen as a focus in young adult novels. Greek mythology has become somewhat familiar to me through the vast amounts of stories I have read about them. There isn't much I know about Italian history, but the parts that Bergren has depicted certainly did enough to tempt me into finding out more. In a way, it is familiar in the sense that these fourteenth century elements are not uncommonly known about. Knights in shining armour, a structured class system in a grand castle - these things have big associations and are greatly enjoyed in novels targeting a young adult audience. I adored the friendship between the royal lords and ladies and the less privileged servants which despite having a hierarchy that reflects the nature of that old society, it presents a compassion that the wealthier characters have. There is that clear, strong feel of acceptance throughout the book from this master-servant relationship to the understanding of the old and new lifestyles. I was thrilled to see that connection.

What most readers look for is an attribute that defines the protagonist, one that renders them a desired role model. Fierce determination is what drives the character of Gabriella Betarrini to be so admired by the other characters or us readers. There are many instances where Gabi has her fears and where bravery is so difficult to achieve, but her love for her sister Evangelia overrides her flaws. And that ability to suppress any weaknesses in order to protect her loved ones is what really compelled me to like her, showing a strong young woman in place of a normal girl. In fact, both the Betarrini sisters who have gone back in time have ironically grown faster, adapted to their new surroundings and found the strength to fight for their survival. It was also interesting to be introduced to the men of those medieval times, so gentlemanly and fearless even though they are young. There is no shortage of alluring characters that will demand and capture full attention.

Though this book is breath of fresh air, it doesn't hold back the gripping situations and heartbreaking emotions. The simple concepts were manipulated so well by Bergren to produce a novel that I couldn't put down once I started. The prominent power craze of that society has influenced the present, a very important message that resonates around the story. Bergren almost proposes a warning to us that our actions now could largely impact upon the future. Because of that thought process that it provokes, it is highly unlikely to forgot about this novel. The portrayal of the characters mixed with the era simply flowed and delivered a couple of hours of pure enjoyment. Waterfall is simply a taste of a promising Italian inspired series because once it has captured your heart, it is almost impossible to resist.

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