Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Enter Stage Right
All her world’s a stage.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She is not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but has no lines of her own.
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every place ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.
If I were to base it all on first impressions, I would not have wanted to read this book. The cover came off too much like a manga, or a novel based on an anime, and it’s really not something I am too keen on reading. However, I read some good reviews on this book, so that was enough to make me pick it up and read it.
Eyes Like Stars is the story of Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, otherwise known as Bertie, who has lived inside the Theater in her entire life. It’s not an ordinary theater, though. Théâtre Illuminata is where all plays are staged. It is like the mother ship of all the musicals/plays ever written, all bound together in something that the cast members call The Book, which is set on its own podium. The different characters of all the plays in the world are there, from Hamlet, to Peter Pan to Ophelia to the little fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The theater is run by the Theater Manager, the stage is set by the Stage Manager, and there were people who takes care of the wardrobe, props and set as well.
But Bertie isn’t a part of a cast or any of the managers, either. She’s just someone who was left at the theater and grew up there. Having nothing to do, Bertie became the cause of a lot of trouble in the theater, causing her to be asked to leave by the Theater Manager.
Eyes Like Stars is a very interesting read. At first, I had a hard time catching up with all the characters since I don’t read Shakespeare and I’m not too familiar with any other classic plays except for the ones I’ve watched. The language was also almost like classic language, with different accents and ways of speaking that sometimes it was hard to keep track. After some time, I was able to get into the flow of the story, and it was loads of fun. It kind of reminded me of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, where book characters come to life, except this is for theater characters.
The story is quite solid, and the characters had their own quirks based on what their role is. Bertie is a fiesty protagonist, sometimes a bit too impulsive, but she’s a smart and strong girl. I didn’t really feel that much of a connection between her and Ariel though, and somehow, I felt that their ending scene was a bit too contrived. Or maybe that’s just because I like Nate for her better?
I guess one reason why I had a hard time getting into it, as I mentioned earlier, is because I’m not a theater geek. It does make me wonder, though — are the characters of the modern plays/musicals, like Avenue Q there too? Possibly. ;)
Apparently, this is a trilogy, and the next book, Perchance to Dream, will be out soon. I wonder if they’ll be able to fulfill their mission…hm. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next curtain call. :)
2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 16 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 8 out of 20 fantasy books in 2010