Monday, June 07, 2010

Chasing Vermeer

Chasing Vermeer is a young adult mystery by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist, the same artist as A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was immediately impressed by the books illustrations and paper quality. The end pages and interior pages are a much higher quality than is normally found in books today.

The book is a not so simply story about two friends who attempt to find a painting by Vermeer that has been stolen and hidden. Calder and Petra attend a laboratory school located at the University of Chicago. Calder, a boy, has a fascination with pentominoes. Petra is bookish, but seems psychically connected to the stolen Vermeer painting because of her appearance. Their school teacher seems unusually interested in the theft. Through the kids persistence, they manage to find the painting and some trouble.

This is a first novel for the author who has a love for art and museums. I found the story overly complicated and the characters a bit bizarre. For example, every time the children discover a clue, they sit down and eat a blue M&M. Really? Then there is the boy who is obsessed with pentominoes and uses them to help him find new clues. Not in a mathematical way, but in a random pulling of a piece out of his pocket kind of way that suggests words. The psychic connection Petra has with the painting and the use of the pentominoes makes for a strange story. The reader is instructed to look for clues to the mystery in the illustrations. There are sections in which the reader can decode coded messages, which I didn't care to take the time to decode.

What can I say? I didn't like it. Reviews on Amazon are mixed.

Book Rating: 2 stars and a bit annoying.

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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