Zip by Ellie Rollins
Once upon a time Lyssa’s life was near perfect. She didn’t have much, but she had a talented mother who loved her more than anything else in the world, even more than singing. She had a place to call home with a garden full of sunflowers and a best friend who lived close by. She had witnessed magic – her mother’s magic – with her own eyes.
But that was before. Before her mother got sick. Before her mother and Michael got married. Before her mother died.
Now Lyssa is stuck living in the after. After her mother died, her new stepfather Michaels moves her far from Texas – from her home with the sunflowers, away from Pen her BFF, and away from all those memories her and her mother created together. Now living in rainy Seattle, Lyssa spends her time riding Zip while Michael bikes, and preparing for school.
Before long though Lyssa finds herself plotting her escape. It’s not that she wants to leave Michael or even rainy Seattle, she has to in order to save her former home in Texas before it’s bull-dozed down to the ground. With a few bucks in her pocket and Zip underfoot Lyssa sets out for the adventure of a lifetime.
But will she make in time? Or will all of Lyssa’s dream crumble like the childhood home she shared with her mom.
Zip, written by author Ellie Rollins, is a debut middle grade novel that is based upon Homer’s epic classic The Odyssey. And just like the original it chock full of action, adventure, and a touch of magical realism.
Rollins writing is fun, smart, and above all things strong. Her way with words and with description, not just draws the reader into the story, but makes them feel as if they are a part of it. To say her descriptions were vivid would be an understatement. Readers will clearly gain of who Lyssa is as a character from the inside out, why her scooter Zip isn’t just a scooter but also a trusted companion, and the importance of a good adventure.
The writing that fills Zip is thoroughly enjoyable. But the only thing that feels off about the book as a whole: the overall pacing. Clocking in at just over three hundred pages, Zip often felt as if it were a six hundred page book. There were moments though that picked up and read like the epic, whirlwind tale of adventure it was supposed to be. But other moments were a bit too sluggish, dragging the whole pacing of the plot downward.
The pacing obviously did not work for me as a reader. To the point where I thought, more than once, I should just put the book down and walk away from it. But something stopped me. And that something was Lyssa. She’s a refreshing character that has a whole lot of spunk and even more heart. A true heroine, Lyssa isn’t afraid to follow her heart, even if her heart leads her into some troubled waters.
Not only is Lyssa a fantastic character, all of Rollins’ characters are. They individually and collectively add an extra layer of depth to this book. And I love how Zip, an inadiment object, felt as if it were a living, breathing character.
Author Rollins has mastered the art of the retelling. She took a classic tale that young readers may have no interest in and made it interesting. Besides making it interesting, she made it her own and told it from a unique perspective.
I did struggle slightly with Zip. But after some thought and reflection I realize now that a big part of the problem for me was the pacing. It felt too slow for such a hearty book. Another part that I struggled with has absolutely nothing to do with the book at all, but rather me as a reader. I have real issues with the whole suspension of belief. Even though the emotions, situations, and problems Lyssa experiences over the course of the book were realistic, I had a hard time believing them because of the magic. Some of it was so over the top, so out of place, it just didn’t work for me.