Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata, #1)Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata #1)
By Lisa Mantchev 
Published July 7th 2009 by Feiwel & Friends
Genre | Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

All her world’s a stage. Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater. She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents. She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own. That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right
NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play 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. (Courtesy of Goodreads).

Review | ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2

Before I say anything about this book, I’d like to mention how much I adore the cover for Eyes Like Stars. All the covers made for the Théâtre Illuminata trilogy were done by the amazingly talented Jason Chan. He has a website where he sporadically post his artwork. It’s awesome, so go check it out!

Now onward to the book! I decided to reread Eyes Like Stars for the Summer Lovin’ Read-a-Thon and, while I didn’t accomplish my goal of completing the trilogy,  my love for this book has been rekindled. Lisa Mantchev weaves an enchantingly whimsical tale set in the surreal Théâtre Illuminata, where the players and crew are not short of colorful personalities and melodramatics.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata. The theater is a magical place home to many players,  not your ordinary actors and actresses mind you, but the real characters from actual plays. It wouldn’t be uncommon to find Hamlet and MacBeth clamoring at each other out or to witness little faeries devouring a buffet table. The book takes place entirely in the theater, but that’s okay. The theater is vast with lots of sensational locations to explore, ever-changing stage settings, and danger lurking at every corner (coughArielcough).

All her world’s a stage. Bertie is a charmingly headstrong heroine to say the least and while the theater is her home, though it’s clear that she’s not like the others in the theater. She’s exuberant, rash, rebellious and I really liked her character. There is a love-triangle involved in the story between the steadfast pirate Nate from the Little Mermaid and seductive Ariel from the Tempest. So far it’s presented as a typical YA love-triangle, so you won’t find anything new here. However, that didn’t deter my interest in the book and I really enjoyed the romantic scenes. My favorite characters would have to be Bertie’s sidekicks, the faeries form A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They are Bertie’s trusted friends and are such hilarious, fun-loving adorable little sprites. They never failed to make me smile or laugh. If anything, I want a faerie side-kick myself.

I can feel it in my bones. Mantchev’s writing style is quirky and entertaining. Whether it is the characters or the magic of the story, the writing gave me the impression of something Disney-esque. Instead of the characters breaking out into song, they perform in plays in various intervals of the story. Mantchev does something unique that I have never seen in a book before: write in script format. Portions of the story are written as scripted plays, serving as flashbacks or character made scenarios. The sudden change in writing format may be staggering to other readers, but I really enjoyed reading the scripts and found it refreshing. The pace of the book is fairly neutral. Not too fast, but not too slow either. In my opinion, all of the charm of the story comes from the vibrant characters than the actual plot.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely! I’m not a theater junkie by all means, but I still loved this book. Those who like plays may get a kick out of all the theater references.