I like to think of myself as a diverse reader - I'll pick up pretty much anything that catches my interest, no matter what age group it's meant for. The only thing I tend to avoid like the plague is nonfiction. I'd like for that to change, but honestly it probably never will. I always tell myself that I want to read middle grade books more, but for some reason they're always the first stories to get put on the back burner, to read "later" (which is code for never). Probably the only real reason I picked up The Spindlers when I did is due to the fact that I loved the first two books in Oliver's Delirium series, and I wanted to see how she would handle a children's novel.
Whenever I actually do read middle grade, I'm always reminded why I like them so much. Most of the time it's because the storylines are just plain charming. Little kids are so much smarter than we give them credit for, and there's something magical about watching the story play out through the eyes of the narrator. Liza was no exception; I found her very easy to like and immediately appreciated how much she loved her little brother, Patrick. Almost always in this type of book, the adults are portrayed as strict and completely blind to the magical things that are going on around them, while the child protagonist is left to battle a wide range of monsters. The Spindlers actually reminded me a lot of Coraline, another book I really enjoyed.
Lauren Oliver definitely has a way with words, and I've really missed her writing ever since I finished Pandemonium (I've yet to read Requiem). It's so beautiful and I loved the way she described the world of the Below world. The plotting is also done very well, one event leading smoothly into the other. My favorite character was definitely Mirabella the rat; I loved her quirky and nervous personality. There were those traditional moments in worlds like these when something appears before the main characters that's far too good to be true - and in this case, it's the big table of food and the four beautiful sisters presiding over it. The moment Liza ran into them, I was immediately wishing her away, because this is exactly the kind of thing you cannot trust. I also liked the three-room trial at the end of her quest, though my favorite was probably the first room.
The little illustrations before the beginning of each chapter were very pretty to look at. The Spindlers is a very cute and quick read. I will continue to pick up other middle grade novels because of it, though probably not one after the other. Though I love the lightness of stories like these here and there, one thing about middle grade is that they often lack substance. Still, if you're in the mood for something to put a smile on your face, I would definitely go with this one. I'm now really looking forward to Oliver's other children's book, Liesl & Po.