Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lips Touch Three Times (YA)


Taylor, Laini. 2009. Lips Touch Three Times. With illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo. Scholastic. 272 pages.

Will I close my eyes?
Will I hold my breath?
Will I wanna cry?
Will our souls connect?
I've been thinking about it when I go to bed
at night I wonder - wonder.

--Mandy Moore, "First Kiss"

Lips Touch Three Times is a collection of three novellas by the oh-so-amazing Laini Taylor. Goblin Fruit. Spicy Little Curses Such As These. Hatchling. Each story revolves around a kiss. Sometimes for good; sometimes for bad.

Are you familiar with Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market? Goblin Fruit uses that story quite cleverly as a basis. If you're already a fan of Goblin Market, I don't know how you could resist this little story. If you're unfamiliar with the original, give this one a try. Trust me. And maybe just maybe you'll want to go back and read Rossetti at some point.

First paragraph of Goblin Fruit:

There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a high school campus and point them out: not her, not her, her. The pert, lovely ones with butterfly tattoos in secret places, sitting on their boyfriends' laps? No, not them. The girl watching the lovely ones sitting on their boyfriends' laps? Yes.
Them.
The goblins want girls who dream so hard about being pretty their yearning leaves a palpable trail, a scent goblins can follow like sharks on a soft bloom of blood. The girls with hungry eyes who pray each night to wake up as someone else. Urgent, unkissed, wishful girls.
Like Kizzy. (13)
Kizzy, no questions asked, has a weird family. She grew up listening to her grandmother tell stories about goblins. And her grandmother believed them. Does Kizzy? Everything she knows will be put to the test when Kizzy attracts the attention of the new boy, the oh-so-dreamy new boy at school.

Spicy Little Curses Such As These is the second novella in the collection. And it *may* just be my favorite of the three.

First paragraph of Spicy Little Curses Such As These:

Kissing can ruin lives. Lips touch, sometimes teeth clash. New hunger is born with a throb and caution falls away. A cursed girl with lips still moist from her first kiss might feel suddenly wild, like a little monsoon. She might forget her curse just long enough to get careless and let it come true. She might kill everyone she loves.
She might, and she might not.
A particular demon in India rather hoped that she would.
This is the story of the curse and the kiss, the demon and the girl. It's a love story with dancing and death in it, and singing and souls and shadows reeled out on kite strings. It begins underneath India, on the cusp of the last century when the British were still riding elephants with maharajas and skirmishing on the arid frontiers of the empire.
The story begins in Hell. (69)
This story was a 'wow' one for me. So I don't want to tell too much. I'll just say it's really good and leave it at that. After all, if you're not curious by reading that little intro above, then there's nothing that I can say to persuade you to pick it up! And I don't know about you, but she had me at hello with that name!

The last story is Hatchling. And it is my least favorite of the three. I'm not saying it's a bad story. It may be quite a good story. I don't know. This is one of those where it could be the fact that I was too drowsy to really enjoy it. Or to even understand and appreciate it. Or it could just be that I loved the others so much that this one was a bit of a let down. So it might work for you. (I hope it does!)

Here's how it starts off:

Six days before Esme's fourteenth birthday, her left eye turned from brown to blue. It happened in the night. (145)

It does start off promising, doesn't it?

To set the mood, create the right atmosphere for each novella, each is introduced by a series of illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo. And each novella ends with a closing illustration. (For example, Goblin Fruit has around thirteen pages of illustrations in all.)

This is my first Laini Taylor, but it won't be my last. She has a way with words, a way with fantasy. While not all of the novellas were equally compelling (for me at least), all of them had some oh-so-magical moments. I don't know how to convey just how good she is at creating the right atmosphere for these stories.



Other reviews: Teenreads.com, Reading Rocks, WLS Teens, Em's Bookshelf, Shelf Elf, Charlotte's Library, The Compulsive Reader.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Paige Y. 7:11 PM  

Becky,

This sounds wonderful. Do you think it's appropriate for middle schoolers (grades 6-8). I think it would go over really well at my school.

Kailana 4:18 AM  

I want to read this just because of the connection to Goblin Market. Going to see if the library will buy it. :)

Chris 10:49 PM  

So I had already put this on my wishlist after your recommendation but now I'm really excited about it!! And it looks like I may get it soon from paperback swap :D

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