Liesl & Po Review

Friday, September 30, 2011

Title: Liesl & Po
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: MG, Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.

Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
Liesl's young, but she's already had a difficult life. Losing her father at a tender young age, she's forced by her stepmother to spend her days locked in a cramped attic alone. She wants nothing more than to see her father one last time and to tell him that she loves him, but she's all alone...until she meets Po. Po is unlike anyone she's ever met before. He's just a boy, but he's a ghost and Liesl dares to feel that glimmer of hope that she might be able to get a message to her father. But when she and Po finally dare to venture beyond the attic doors, one major mistake by the mysterious boy across the street is about to send their adventure in a whole new direction.

Honestly, I have a bit of a thing for middle grade fiction. Do I read a lot of it? Not really, but that's simply because I'm picky about those I choose to read. Liesl & Po had a premise that captivated me from the start. Reminiscent of the dark and twisting tales from the Brothers Grimm, Liesl & Po sends the reader on a fantastic journey into worlds beyond our own. Veteran author, Lauren Oliver, has tackled a new genre with ease, providing an adventurous book teeming with larger than life characters, a seriously delicious plot and an overriding theme of love, family and friends.

Have you ever read a book with divergent plot arcs that somehow slowly manage to weave together throughout the story into one utterly spellbinding conclusion? If not, Liesl & Po will truly be a treat for you. The beauty of the story was that each plot art was fleshed out, giving you access to Liesl, Po and Will from start to finish. Because there was so much action and so much happening in Liesl & Po, it would have been easy to lose the reader in mundane details, but the story balanced the issue with ease, giving you bits and pieces and stringing you along. The characters, too, were fresh and engaging. Perfectly age-appropriate, Liesl is a bundle of love and innocence. Likewise, Po complements her with his honesty and compassion, and Will balances the two with touches of heartfelt humour. Together, the companionship between the characters was pure and unadulterated - giving the reader a true middle grade experience. Furthermore, Liesl & Po features superb writing. Sweet and simple, barring superfluous details and excess prose. Liesl & Po takes a minimalist approach, heightens it with a soaring plot and gives the reader everything they wanted and more. The only things I would have changed were some elements that I found a bit too predictable, and there were a small few questions that lingered at the end, which I wish could have been resolved.

All in all though, Liesl & Po was a heartwarming and fantastic addition to the market. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of MG fiction, especially those who enjoy paranormal and adventure stories. This book is also appropriate for both boys and girls.

I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Ooh, yes I love it when stories have multiple plot arcs that come together into one big reveal at the end! This sounds so good. And I'm pretty picky about MG novels too so that's saying something.

  2. I love how you describe the interweaving plot arcs, and now I'm even more excited to read this! I love stories that do that! So happy to hear this one was good!

  3. I have been excited about this one ever since I first saw the cover and the fact that Oliver wrote a middle level ghost story. Good to know the the plot works and the characters are strongly appealing. I would except this from Oliver. Definitely will be adding this to my classroom shelves.

  4. Jen just reviewed this on the blog and she LOVED it! It sounds like such a sweet story and I think it'll be another big hit for Lauren Oliver! :)

  5. Ooh, I love when seemingly unrelated plot lines tie together! Liesl and Po sounds fantastic! Thanks for the review, Melissa.1 :)

  6. Stunning review Melissa, you had me sold on this one at Brothers Grimm. I absolutely adore their fairy tales and pretty much anything by Lauren Oliver is something I want to read. Your reviews just keep getting better and better:)

  7. Since I do not read much YA then you get that I read even less MG, still it is Lauren Oliver

  8. I rather enjoyed the other books by my dear Lauren. Looking forward to another wonderful book by her.

    Always enjoying your reviews!

    Please do stop by for a crumpet & a spot of tea.

    If you enjoy yourself please do leave a comment on some of my reviews.

    They are quite lonely :(

    Mad Scientist @ Steampunkery & Book Reviews

  9. I'd love to read this one! It sounds great!


  10. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Melissa. My sister absolutely loved it, though she was disappointed the ARC didn't have the illustrations. Great review!

  11. Despite the predicability... which I would attribute to it being MG anyway, it sounds like such a great book. Thanks for the great review!

  12. Thanks for this awesome review! I am super excited to get my hands on this book!

  13. I just got this one in the mail and can't wait to read it. I love a good MG fairy tale, especially one with echoes of the true Grimm tales & not that Disney-fied stuff. Great review!

  14. I'm even more excited to finish reading this one now :D


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