Saturday, July 18, 2009


By Aprilynne Pike.

The first time I picked this book up, I put it down again because of the uninspiring description, which ended: "... everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever." I figured if the book was really special, they would have been able to highlight something more intriguing than that vague promise.

The second time, I decided to give it a chance and started reading. I enjoyed seeing the little mysteries surrounding Laurel and was particularly amused by her brand of denial. I also liked how she develops friendships, with her friends helping to draw her out of seclusion.

You should be able to guess what I didn't like. (Ask if you want to know.) It also seemed to force the plot slightly, answering some questions in an entirely unsatisfactory manner. I also didn't like the name dropping scene near the middle: it wasn't nearly as convincing as the process of discovery Laurel goes through before and after that point.

Overall? I ended up enjoying this quite a bit more than I expected when I first saw it, but will still be hesitant about picking up the sequels. (Four books are planned for the series.)

And now a plug for the 2009 Debutantes: As you may have noticed, quite a few of the books I've read this year have been gleaned from this LiveJournal community for debut young adult and middle grade authors. Not only is it a great way to find new authors (there's also a 2010 community), these books often lack many of the elements I find unpalatable in "adult" books. The downside is that, being debuts, you generally have to wait a year to read another book by any of them. Take a look at their books.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite: what didn't you like?

Anonymous said...

Just followed the link to the books:

I know that you don't have to wait for either Dull Boy or The Season because I checked them out from my local library. The former was pretty good, though I almost didn't give it a fair shake after I read the first chapter (two guesses why :-)

The Season: meh. Not entirely the author's faul: The cover gives fair warning. The young teen heroines are very much the reticule-cum-sneakers type (the which I cannot STAND but I know the vast majority of romance readers like just fine.) But that extended corset scene: faugh! And you call yourself an historian, madame author!

Very silly quibble, you percieve, but it put me off the entire book.

Joshua said...

I meant that you have to wait a long time after reading the first one, which is normally the time when I'd go read everything else by the author (if I enjoyed the first one).

I did enjoy Dull Boy although it reminded me powerfully of The Incredibles (and also Soon I Will Be Invincible since that's the only other superhero book I can think of). I'm not sure why you wouldn't have liked it except that his problems (juggling washing machines? who doesn't know better?) were ridiculous at first. But once Darla and co. entered I couldn't stop laughing. ("I sometimes... role play...")

As far as that thing I don't like: I really hate when memory is erased and minds are manipulated, especially when the people so afflicted never recover what they lost (see: Sabriel, The Witch Queen (which has the worst ending ever), Exiles, that Cordwainer Smith story although that would be bittersweet either way). I don't buy that it's necessary in most stories, either.

Spoilers follow!

In Wings, it's not only a critical part of the plot, it's also tossed in as a weak explanation in the last couple chapters for why no one (especially Laurel) noticed anything strange about her life before she entered high school. Other than that she only eats vegetables and drinks Sprite, that is. The contortions that would have been necessary to pull it off break my suspension of disbelief more than a little, unless I misunderstood the mechanic for the erasures: it's basically just a potion. If there were, for example, hypnotic suggestions involved, I could understand her family not realizing anything, but I would like it even less.

Joshua said...

A minor correction: I actually meant Lirael, the second book in the series.

Joshua said...

I should be honest, if I wasn't fixated on the memory thing I would probably have mentioned some other things I found annoying:

God is mentioned once if I recall (in the phrase "Thank God!") while evolution is mentioned several times. Faeries are the pinnacle of evolution and they know it, even if they don't how to buy a map. Not contrived at all.

The faerie version of the birds and the bees. THIS IS SPOILERIFIC. OK, I do actually like the direction the author took this in, but there's a couple flaws and one of them is that faeries can have sex, it just doesn't have anything to do with reproduction IF you buy the line Laurel is fed. (I'm not sure I do.)

Anonymous said...

I didn't much care for Wings either. Go read Faerie Rebels by Anderson to wash the bad-fairy taste out of your reader-ly mouth!

The problem with Dull Boy is that I read too much YA fiction :-) I was sure it was going to turn out to be one of those gay/cancer-stricken/mental-disorder guy-who-IMAGINES-he's-got-superpowers stories. I loathe those books.

But it isn't of course, and as you say, once Our Heroine, the Girl Genius appears on stage, one can't put it down: what a riot!

Joshua said...

I did read Faery Rebels and had a similar complaint, although my feelings have mellowed somewhat since. And in this case I really want to like the book!

The other strange thing is that I came away from Wings feeling like I had liked it. Your comment makes me wonder if I really should when I found so many things wrong. I think she started off with some great ideas (the nature of faeries) and subversions, but didn't really like where she took it.

Re: Dull Boy, by your definition I don't read too much YA at all. I doubt I would finish one of those books unless it was compelling for some other reason.