Another Faust by Daniel Nayeri
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This adaptation of the Faust story centers on five children, two twins and three others, all "stolen" from their families at age 10. The world has forgotten them until suddenly, at age 15, they appear with their governess in New York. The five become students at the Marlowe School, one of those impossibly difficult-to-get-into/only-for-the-incredibly-rich-and-powerful schools. There, four of the five set out to take over, each with their own special "gifts".
The fifth, twin Bice, isn't like the others. Her talent is hiding, learning, studying (which she does by freezing time). Belle, her twin, is beautiful (but with an awful stench that can only be hidden by bathing in emotions); Val is a poet and seducer who can go back in time, perfecting conversations and events; Christian is an athlete, bathing in some weird serum and sleeping in a coffin; and Victoria is trying to be the most powerful, successful of them all.
Clearly, all these gifts come with a price other than that black, only-seen-when-wet beauty mark. Madame Villeroy, their governess, continually plays one against the other, making deals and promises with no real method to her other than madness. At times, when talking to Belle, she sounded like Miss Havisham, but at others she just sounded stereotypically schemey.
The five children manage to make enemies of almost everyone at Marlowe, with Belle the exception (thanks to her baths and her determination to get Thomas). That didn't feel at all real to me: why make their evil so obvious to all? And the ending, with Bice, Belle and Christian escaping, was overblown and moralistic. In between there were moments that were interesting, but the entire book didn't really hold together as a read.
I also wondered about the chapter introductions. At first, I thought they were supposed to represent others that had sold their souls to Faust but Jacob and Laura? No idea who they were. If you're going to hit people over the head, make it with an obvious hammer.
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