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Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
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Magic or Madness (2005)

by Justine Larbalestier

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8434715,422 (3.67)45
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» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
I'm not a big fantasy fan but I chose this as my YA book club selection. The story was quite enjoyable. ( )
  cubsfan3410 | Sep 1, 2018 |
I love the way Larbalestier turns what we know upside down. Reason has lived her life on the run from her evil grandmother. When she's 15, her mother ends up in a mental hospital and Reason has to go live with the woman she was raised to believe is a cruel monster. While she's plotting to run away, she befriends a neighbor boy and then discovers that her mother had been keeping some important facts about a family legacy secret. I finished this in one night because I couldn't stop reading, and immediately downloaded the second book in the series. ( )
  LibrarianJen | Dec 1, 2017 |
Fifteen-year-old Reason, gifted in mathematics, struggles to work out where she fits in a family where magic and madness go hand in hand. The author's sparky and electric writing style brought the book alive for me. A quick and enjoyable read. ( )
  Elizabeth_Foster | Nov 3, 2017 |
A very strange, rich, confusing book. My view of who the villain was kept switching abruptly around - it was quite disconcerting. The obvious, cartoon villain was replaced by - lied to all her life? Then a whole new set of possible villains - who turned out to be one and a pawn...switch after switch. I wish we'd gotten more from Reason's POV after she went through the door, but I suspect that she really was nearly as bewildered as Jay-Tee thought. It's hard to upend an entire life's teachings - but she also got training in logic and reason, and when the facts contradict theory, facts win. She is, in many ways, very young - no "street-smarts", for either Sydney or New York. In other ways Reason is much closer to adult than either Tom or Jay-Tee - she's grown up being pretty much her mother's equal, not treated as a child. It's an interesting mix. One funny thing, for me - I had less trouble with the Australian slang than I did the New York variety (and there's no glossary for those!). It's most definitely the first of a series - the story ends at a turnpoint, not a conclusion (though without the feathers it would have been pretty solid). I'm interested enough I will probably seek out the other two, though it's not urgent. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Feb 14, 2017 |
An uneven novel—parts are boring, a few tidbits are exciting or maddening (what do the feathers at the end mean? Ahh!), but mostly a pretty basic story without anything really standing out. Reason has been on the run from her witch grandmother her entire life, but is her grandmother really as dangerous as her mother says? (The answer, obviously enough, is yes.)
( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
"Magic or Madness" wonderfully mixes a genuinely creepy system of hereditary magic with Australian bush lore, sweet and canny details about New York's East Village, daily life in Australia, fashion and mathematics, sneaking lectures into dialog and description so subtly you never know they're there, only that you're getting the charge of soaking up new knowledge about how the world works.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Apr 2, 2006)
 
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Dedication
For Scott Westerfield and our two favourite cities
First words
It would be easiest to just walk out the front door.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Fifteen-year-old Reason's life has been spent wandering the Australian outback with her mother, Sarafina, hiding from her grandmother, Esmeralda (Mere). Sarafina told her about Mere's evil witchcraft and taught Reason how to protect herself. Now with Sarafina in a mental hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown, Reason must live with Mere. As she explores Mere's house, she becomes confused when neither the house nor Mere are as dark and sinister as she imagined. In a locked drawer, Reason discovers a key to a door which, when opened, transports her across the world to Manhattan where she is befriended by Jay-Tee, a teenager under the evil Jason Blake's control. Jay-Tee and Reason are torn between escaping from Blake and avoiding Mere who has come searching for Reason. The story culminates in a battle of magic between Blake and Mere and with Reason learning why her female ancestors rarely lived beyond age thirty and why Sarafina had her breakdown. Individual chapters are narrated by different characters, which is not always readily apparent. The book's tone interestingly changes between less threatening Australia and dangerous Manhattan where the hidden identity and power of Blake adds some suspense. A glossary helps readers understand Reason's colorful Australian vernacular. Actual magic takes a backseat until the end when the title's meaning is also revealed. Not another wizard-type book, this story is of a teenager's confusion. The book, geared to readers ages twelve through fifteen, is worthwhile for middle school and public libraries.
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From the Sydney, Australia home of a grandmother she believes is a witch, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino is magically transported to New York City, where she discovers that friends and foes can be hard to distinguish.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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