"Four children have been chosen to compete in a national competition to find the tastiest confection in the country. Who will invent a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Lightning Chew? Logan, the Candymaker's son, who can detect the color of chocolate by touch alone? Miles, the boy who is allergic to merry-go-rounds and the color pink? Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy like it's a feather? Or Philip, the suit-and-tie wearing boy who's always scribbling in a secret notebook? This sweet, charming, and cleverly crafted story, told from each contestant's perspective, is filled with mystery, friendship, and juicy revelations."
I've read many of Wendy Mass's excellent books in the past, but this one really disappointed me at first. The premise sounded interesting, and the descriptions in the book were mouthwatering. Yet a lot of things felt flat and contrived. I wasn't impressed by Miles's insecurity or Logan's scars. None of the events came to life in the beginning, and the writing was poor. Daisy's secret, though kind of cool, also felt really unrealistic and underdeveloped. What kind of twelve year old girl does what she does? However, she was probably my favorite character.
The book is told in four parts, from each character's perspective. But the interesting thing is that the same events are told from the different views of the four children. I really didn't like that at first; it seemed so ridiculously redundant. When Logan and Miles told of the same events, we only learned a tiny bit more about each of them, and that could have been skipped. Daisy's section was interesting though, because the reader learns who she really is. And she's not the cheerful girl in a yellow dress who we've been led to believe is the real Daisy. That was interesting, but overall the technique was a bit off-putting, though very original. Philip's section was also really enlightening though; we learn why he's such a brat all the time, and I actually really sympathized with him after he was done telling his point of view. Though I still think Philip's initial reasons for entering the competition were really stupid.
All in all, The Candymakers ended up being a fairly good book. It had a lot of good lessons, and a fairly interesting plot. It started slowly, but it did pick up in the later sections. The writing was all right, the characters were okay, everything about it was basically good, but not amazing. Except for the candy, which was amazing. I would love to visit the Willy Wonky-esque factory in the The Candymakers.
I must admit that the book was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. There are lots of intertwined mysteries and really deep tragedies in all of the characters' pasts. Everyone seems to be haunted by something and scarred, inwardly or outwardly. It was a bit much, but The Candymakers was actually quite profound in certain parts. As I read, my opinion of it improved. It's probably on the lower end of 4 stars now. This novel is certainly not one of Wendy Mass's best, but I was glad that I stuck through the whole thing. It was rewarding in some ways.
Read The Candymakers:
- if you like Wendy Mass
- if you like mystery
- if you like books set in candy factories
- if you're looking for a fairly light but interesting read