Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz


Title: Teeth 

Author: Hannah Moskowitz 

Rating: 5 Stars

Can you hear that? It's the sound of tiny shards of glass blowing away in the wind. You know what those shards of glass used to be before I picked up this book? My heart. Yes, this book destroyed my heart and didn't patch it up, but I would give my heart to Hannah Moskowitz all over again to have it thus broken if it meant I got to read such beautiful books. I am a masochist at times, I know.

Teeth is unlike anything I've read before or am ever likely to read in the future - and I'm glad. I doubt any other author could tackle this story with the amount of beauty and finesse that Moskowitz has.

Our breath-taking tale starts out on an imaginary island. An island with magic fish who can cure sick humans. Rudy and his family move to the island in the hopes that the fish can cure his youngest brother - and slowly, they do. Yet, for an island so devoid of life, it harbors a dark secret: Teeth. Rudy meets Teeth, an ugly fish-boy, soon after moving and before long, the two have struck an unlikely friendship. When Teeth begins to seek Rudy's help to free the magic fish that are captured every day - fish who are the only family that Teeth has - Rudy risks losing his younger brother to his sickness. Suddenly, the lines of friendships between Rudy and Teeth are no longer so clear. Even worse, Rudy meets Diana, the only other teenager on the island with him and a girl who stays locked up in her house all day. A girl whose mother sobs in the bathroom every Tuesday. A girl with a connection to Teeth. In the midst of all these separate, but broken, pieces, Teeth is the only link and with his ever-changing relationship with Rudy, it seems impossible to save the secret that the island so vehemently despises.

Hannah Moskowitz has always been one for the original story lines and Teeth is no different. In fact, it might just be the strangest of all her works, but perhaps it is also the most heart-felt. You see, if I could, I would run onto the tallest building in the world and chuck this book at everyone passing by. It wouldn't hurt so much, especially as it's such a slender volume, but the words and story inside will rip you up and leave you sobbing in a curled up mess for days afterwards. This is the magic of Teeth. It has the ability to suck you into its world, its strange island and its even stranger inhabitants and before you know it, you're no longer sitting in a comfortable chair with a blanket and coffee. You're tasting the salty spray of the sea, you're falling in love with Teeth despite his ugly demeanor, and your heart is breaking, again and again and again.

What stands out to me about Teeth is, first and foremost, the prose. It's beautiful. In fact, I went more than a little highlighter crazy with this novel and I can't say I'm ashamed about it at all. Once you get past the beautiful writing, however, is the characterization. If there's one thing you can expect from a Moskowitz novel, it's for the characters to come alive for you and wedge their way into your heart. Rudy is an instantly likable narrator, bitter about leaving his friends at home and living on a remote island, all because his younger brother is sick. Yet, at the same time, he shares an immense amount of love for his brother, expressing it the only way he knows how. For someone with a younger brother myself, I can already vouch for the genuineness and authenticity of the familial bond portrayed in this novel, one that touches your heart in more ways than one.

With such a strong family bond and attachment to Rudy, his parents, and his younger brother, we now have the dilemma that Teeth brings with him. At first, Teeth is a rather strange character, one that, as the reader, it is impossible to know what to think of. With the progression of the novel, however, Teeth becomes every bit as real to us as Rudy and his bond of friendship - or something a little more - with Rudy is just as compelling as Rudy's bond with his younger brother. With each chapter that we read, layers of Teeth's past and his difficult life are slowly revealed to us, beginning the progression of heart-break throughout the novel. Teeth is such a deep, devastating, and depressed being that it is impossible not to love him, to want to help him and be there for him always. Even better, it is him who is willing to sacrifice his family of magical fish if push comes to shove. For Teeth, who has no family and whose existence itself is a mystery, it is the magical fish of the island that he is related to who make up his life.

Teeth is a story of friendship and courage, of love and bravery, of heart-break and wonder. It is the story of Rudy and Teeth, of their developing relationship and of the obstacles that stand in their way. Of Rudy's unrelentless loyalty to his brother and Teeth's unrelentless loyalty to his brothers. Of the blurred lines in their friendship. Of fishermen who torture Teeth - of an island who hates their secret. Of a girl who knows more about Teeth than anyone else. Of a quest to prolong the lives of magical fish, of sick human beings, and find a place - or a person - to belong to. It is truly impossible for me to express what this book is, what this book means, or the feelings it evokes. I struggle to put my feelings for this book into words, but it's incredible. Just...read it, okay? Read it.

17 comments:

Rachel said...

I'm not sure I can take a tragic or heartbreaking read for a while. When I'm ready again, I'll definitely consider this one. I'm listening to Montrous Beauty on audio and this reminded me a little of it with the talk of the sea. Lovely review, Keertana. :)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

Oh, man, such a gorgeous review, Keertana! While I didn't like this as much as you did, mostly because I was bothered by all the parallels with Kafka's The Metamorphosis, I completely agree with you about Rudy and Teeth. They are both such wonderful, heartbreaking characters and I truly did love them.
This book is way out there, but that's what I like most about Hannah. She's not afraid to write what she feels like writing.
As I said, fantastic review!

Jen (A Reading Daydreamer) said...

Uuuuummm. *stares, dumbfounded* Keertana, you have made me SCARED to pick this book up! What if it doesn't live up to my skyscraper-high expectations now?! I have never read any of Moskowitz's books, but it seems like (actually, it's obvious) I have to read this book! I actually have an eARC of it, hopefully I'll be able to get to it soon. The characterization and writing in this book sounds UNREAL. I cannot wait to read about Rudy and Teeth's difficult friendship, and the hardships that they have to endure. The concept is definitely unlike anything I've ever heard of--that, aside from your review, has caught my attention.

Your review? Amazing.

Raya @ midnight coffee monster said...

My wallet is shrinking a frighteningly quick pace with the number of books I'm purchasing lately, and I always see this book in the bookstore. I ogle at it, I pick it up, I carry it around, and then I somehow convince myself to set it down as I buy something else. I've considered checking it out from the library first, but I'm always down for beautiful prose and original stories -- and I've heard so many wonderful comments about Teeth! A must-read for me this year.

Wendy Darling said...

Whoa, 5 stars! I started this recently but couldn't get into this at the time, but I have to go back and try it again. I will be back to read your review another time. :)

Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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Jenny said...

I'm not sure this is the book for me Keertana, but your review is so stunning that you have me itching to give it a try anyway. I'm glad this book had such a profound effect on you, I love when I find books like that - the ones that seem to just shine a little brighter on the shelves than the ones around them:)

Sam said...

Oh your review is so convincing! I am tempted to drop everything and make a start on this now, but I have to admit that I'm a little worried that this might not be for me. The reviews have been a little mixed... I do like the sound of the storyline though. It sounds incredibly different and original, and the characters clearly managed to leave an impression. Hmm... I will have to think about it! Utterly beautiful review as always, Keertana. :)

Jasprit said...

Keertana you seriously nailed this review, I remember chatting to you recently on twitter and you were still jotting your thoughts down, but your love for this book and shone through. I know how hard it can be writing a review for a book that you loved so much. But this is so beautiful, I love gut wrenching reads that shatter your heart into a million pieces and stay on your mind for days afterwards, I think O will definitely be giving this book a try, but maybe when I'm feeling a bit more tough! :)

Livvy said...

Wow. I think this is my favourite review from you, Tana!

It was stunning. It was so utterly enthralling that you have undoubtedly turned me into a masochist for wanting to read such a depressing and heart breaking book.

I haven't read a book by this author, but I like the sound of her prose and her originality. Strange always appeals to me since I'm an odd bod myself.

So, I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this.

Impressive review! :)

Heidi said...

Lol, so you've been posting your reviews on Goodreads when you write them, and I'm pretty sure I read it/talked about it with you there weeks ago, but I'm happy to see it up on the blog. Seriously, this just sounds beautiful, I've heard such great things about Hannah's books, but this is the first one that has really grabbed me as something I would LOVE. I've been checking my library literally every day to see if they've ordered it yet--I know they will eventually!

Heather Roddenberry said...

WOW. What a beautiful review, Keertana! I know we talked a little about Moskowitz before (and how I am a Moskowitz virgin) but if wasn't already sure I wanted to read her work, this review definitely convinced me. I love stories infused with magical elements and, as you well know, I am a sucker for pretty writing and well rounded characters.

I am so glad you loved this book, K! It makes me feel better about picking it and any of HM's books up because getting your seal of approval can be a tough thing for book (and I LOVE that about you:)

Candace said...

I know this has been a hit or miss for people and really depends on their style. I know the writing is probably stunning but it doesn't matter how many rave reviews I see, I just don't think this book is my thing. I'm so glad that you were absolutely blown away though and that is a gorgeous review!

thequietvoice18 said...

Wonderful review! I've been meaning to read a Moskowitz book for quite some time now - I was looking at Gone, Gone, Gone for awhile but now I'm considering starting with Teeth. Simply from reading her books' synopsizes I can already discern the unique quality of her stories.

Kat said...

This sounds fantastic-- very unique premise. I love books with totally unique stories and characters, like Teeth, so I'll definitely be checking this one out. Beautifully written review. :)

Lauren said...

I haven't read Teeth yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to agree with your gorgeous review, because I've never not loved a Moskowitz novel (she is a goddess—few authors can break my heart so thoroughly and consistently and have me coming back for more). I'm reading Marco Impossible right now, but Teeth will definitely be my next HM read. Wonderful review!

Jess Hearts Books! said...

Wow! This is one incredible review and I'm a new follower of your blog, hi! I hadn't heard of this one but I'm going to have to add it to my wishlist after reading this, thank you!