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A unique concept exploring some real issues
15 December, 2013
Synopsis: When a self-conscious young woman discovers the boy in drama class is actually the immortal who painted the world into being, she becomes the target of another painter who hates humanity.
The Earth Painter is a Young Adult Supernatural Romance set in the small mill town of Chesnee, SC. It revolves around Holly Scruggs, whose family has just moved back to Chesnee after her dad lost his job along with pretty much everything they owned. Her image conscious parents correct her to the point of brokenness until she meets Theo. He is the artist responsible for all the beauty of the land and he thinks Holly is beautiful too. Together they will fight against Fritz, the water painter who hates humans and is hiding a secret under the high school.
The Earth Painter features a unique and fascinating concept of how the world was created, through painters forming the world around us and sciences including Biology, Geology and Chemistry deciding how it is shaped and governed. The Sculptor creates humans due to them being the dominant species.
These beings are relatively invisible to humans, until one day when Holly notices Theo, the earth painter in class one day. Holly is a defiant young girl who is struggling against her mothers superficial, overbearing hold and Theo helps her grow into a strong main character who can stand up for herself and who has confidence in who she is.
I really appreciated how The Earth Painter didn’t gloss over the issues Holly had with her mum. Her mother used to be a popular beauty queen in high school and now she wants Holly to be the same. She constantly puts Holly down and talks about how Holly needs heavy makeup and turtleneck sweaters to cover her freckles as a redhead. She’s a mother that is never pleased with what her daughter does and wants to push her into being exactly like herself.
“Children are a reflection on their parents…If Shelby is like that, it’s due to something Maggie failed at.” - Holly’s mother
Although the mum is annoying and doesn’t realise/care how her actions affect Holly’s self-esteem, I kind of liked a YA story where a parent has a prominent feature throughout the book. It’s more realistic and these are probably real issues that happen in real life, and I really liked how Holly’s character grew over time to stand up to her mother, aided by Theo’s admiration.
The romance was built up really well and was realistic and not a result of insta-love, but I found Holly to be way too persistent towards Theo throughout the book. She kind of forces herself onto Theo, even though it is made clear that there isn’t meant to be anything there. I also find non-human love interests to be kind of…off in a way that they’re not made to feel or love like humans, yet we persist. Kind of like Ink from Indelible, but Theo was better.
“I might look human to you, but I’m not. I’m a painter. Painters were made to paint, whereas people were made to live…learn…eat…grow…dream.” – Theo.
Funnily enough, I did end up glossing over some parts of the book to do with the mythology of the sciences and the painters, as I wanted to get to the contemporary parts. There were some parts of the book that read smoothly, but anything to do with the mythology could have been explained in a clearer way because of the new concepts. The ending was also very sad, but hopefully the sequel will address this.
Overall, I enjoyed The Earth Painter and would recommend it to anyone who loves YA paranormal stories, especially ones that have unique concepts.
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