Goose Girl is not the type of book that would normally catch my eye. However, after reading Christy's review of the sequel I figured it would be worth requesting from the library and listening to it when I got the chance. I had it for a few weeks and, honestly, I didn't have a plan to start it anytime soon until I saw Erin's claim that Shannon Hale "has not written a bad book".
Convoluted story of why I started reading it aside, I'm really glad that I did. Goose Girl seems pretty straight forward at first - a crowned princess of a small kingdom is, unbeknownst to her, about to be sent off to marry the prince of a distant kingdom. As the story progressed, though, I was consistently impressed both with the number of times the plot surprised me and with how well-realized the world and characters were.
True, I've only read one book by Shannon Hale now, but I can see why Erin would say she hasn't written a bad book. In addition to a consistent, deep world full of entertaining characters, Goose Girl is also filled with some beautiful writing. Even the first line ("She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildinree, and she did not open her eyes for three days") has a sense of weight and meaning that I find appealing.
My only real complaint was with the audio production. Instead of having a single narrator, this book had a full cast. I don't mind this on principal, but with so many actors participating, it's inevitable that some of the performances will not be as good as others. Ultimately, instead of enhancing the experience, the unevenness of the performances just made me wish the main narrator (who was excellent) had been responsible for everything.
I recommend this book without reservation. Don't let the title (and in some cases the unfortunate covers) convince you that this is a book only for girls. Anyone who is willing to read a fairy tale based fantasy will be able to appreciate Hale's quality story telling.