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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Splendor serves as an interesting metaphorical examination of illusion, and how it's used to manipulate and exploit people, which may lead to some consideration of those forces at play in the world around us.
It's important to your heart instead of your head, especially when what your head is telling you makes no sense. Greed has a way of turning out badly, but it doesn't go away.
Positive Role Models
Eye-rolling moment when lead character Juliette -- who's worked hard to surprise her beloved sister with a dream week at The Splendor, is devastated when her sister returns and wants nothing to do with her, and embarks on a determined, perilous quest to find what happened and fix it -- decides that hey, maybe she was "too needy." Her new friend and eventual love interest Henri takes his mastery of illusion seriously and tries to do the right thing, despite the fact that his memories are regularly being removed and reinvented, to the point where he doesn't really remember who he is, let alone how he came to be embroiled in all this. Villains, driven by a combination of weakness and greed, deceive, harm, and murder as they see the need.
Violence & Scariness
Most of the ongoing violence involves not just removing memories from the minds of people who actually want to forget them, but also stealing them (and often reselling them) from people who haven't consented, with fateful consequences. The entire illusion of The Splendor is fed by a series of murders, including the gruesome killing of a smart child who's figured out what's actually going on, and characters are in constant peril. Characters are attacked, imprisoned, and threatened with death. Dark, twisty corridors, underground caves, other creepy envornments. Clare and Juliette's mother is seen in her cough-wracked last days before she sends them to the children's home. From the next room a small child hears her mother's screams in childbirth.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of long-awaited kisses, more sweet than sexual.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Fine wines, spirits, and fun-filled taverns are part of the glittery illusion at The Splendor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Splendor is an imaginative tale of illusion and (sometimes forced) mind manipulation that brings together two teens at a spectacular hotel dedicated to perfect experiences and wish fulfillment. Sixteen-year-old orphan Juliette -- who sacrificed a good deal to give her beloved sister a week at the hotel, only to find that she doesn't want Juliette around once she's returned -- embarks on a perilous quest to find what happened, and fix it. At the hotel she meets the mysterious Henri, who works by night to manipulate the minds and memories of guests to provide the dream experience of a lifetime.Together they start to discover the dark side of all this perfection, including hotel management that doesn't hesitate to wipe and/or rearrange minds when their owners start to put two and two together and threaten the grand illusions. Or even murder people, including children, who figure out too much. All this is set against a backdrop of formerly loving siblings growing apart, and how to deal with it. Kidnapping, imprisonment, dark caves, twisty passages -- and the fact that what lies beneath the illusions is ordinary at best, horrific at worst. Messages of listening to your heart when you're not so sure about what your mind is telling you.
Is It Any Good?
Truth, illusion, mind control and more loom large in a spooky tale of a hotel that fulfills its guests' every wish, the dark goings-on that make it possible, and a teen trying to save her sister. Emotions are high and the world-building gets more than a bit confusing at The Splendor, especially since it's very hard to tell the real from the imaginary. Navigating a world in which everything is an illusion planted by the hotel's staff to ensure the perfect experience is only one of the difficulties heroine Juliette faces -- she also grapples with the possibility that her beloved sister doesn't want her around any more, with or without any help from the mind-manipulators.
"'You thought telling me my sister didn't love me enough to keep her memories of me would make me happy?' Her voice was brittle, shrill.
"'No, of course not.' Henri's hair had fallen across his forehead and he shoved it out of his eyes. 'But I thought knowing the truth would help you be happy. Eventually.'
"She fixed him with a withering glare. 'Look around, Henri. No one comes here for the truth.'"
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