SWITCHED, by Jen Calonita, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, March 6, 2018, Hardcover, $15.99 (ages 10 and up)
In April of 2015 I reviewed the first book in a promising new series by Jen Calonita. Flunked, the first book in the Fairy Tale Reform Series, was clever with a spunky young protagonist. The book was quickly followed up with Charmed, Tricked and now Switched.
This is a series where each book is dependent on the next, so if you haven’t read the previous three, read my reviews and go back and read them before Switched. The following review has spoilers for those who haven’t read the entire series.
Switched picks up where Tricked left off. Rumpelstiltskin has been ousted from Fairy Tale Reform School and a new program has been implemented to allow students who are sufficiently “reformed” to remain at the school they’ve grown to love. The other bit of big news is that Beauty and Prince Sebastian (aka the Beast) have joined the teaching staff.
It looks like it’s going to be a good year, except Rumpelstiltskin is still on the loose and Gilly’s sister Anna is with him. Gilly is convinced that Anna was just hoodwinked and she can still save her. The only problem is, no one seems to care. Yes, the Royal Court is trying to track them down, but they’ve yet to accomplish anything.
When Jack — of Jack and the Beanstalk fame — gets sent to FTRS for making mischief, he arrives with important news. Rumpelstiltskin abducted Jack’s mom and cow and Jack might have some clues as to where they’re being held. Gilly’s tired of waiting for someone to do something, and it might be time for her to get in a little mischief of her own.
I wish I could say I enjoyed Switched as much as the previous books in this series, but I can’t. It reads a little bit as if author Jen Calonita fell into the “series slump” this time around. While the overall story does move forward, Switched feels an awful lot like someone said, “We need to get from Point A to Point B, and this will get us there.”
The other thing that makes Switched a bit of a downer is Gilly. This time around, Gilly seems to have lost her spirit. Now I know that she’s upset her sister is missing, and she’s upset, but wow does that come across as self-absorbed and annoying. It kind of reminds me of Harry’s unfortunate personality turn in Half-Blood Prince. I’m hoping that Gilly will get a reboot much like Harry’s in the next book.
Switched isn’t a bad book. Calonita’s writing is still easy and inviting. It’s definitely the weakest book in the series, but it’s still way better than a lot of stuff out there.
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