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The Reading Jackalope

How to Ditch Your Fairy

How to Ditch Your Fairy - Justine Larbalestier I am... not impressed. I would go so far as to say disappointed. I was so looking forward to this book, I’d seen it recced a few places and those people loved it. But yea, this was not the book for me.

Lets start with the thing that bothered me the most, the fictional slang. Fictional slang is not something I normally have a problem with, in fact sometimes it’s really cool to see how authors play with language. The Uglies Trilogy used words differently and A Clockwork Orange smashed together several languages (or is it just the two, it’s been a while since I’ve read it?). I think the reason I had this major problem with it is that the slang came out of nowhere and it wasn’t any type of play on words it was just your basic nonsense substitution. The slang is basically totally new words used in place of modern slang: i.e. dooes for cool. I get that it was supposed to be some sort of indication of the setting, but it didn’t really work. In fact, hearing the new kid, who apparently sounded outdated to the narrator, was refreshing.

And that brings me to the next thing that didn’t work for me in the book, the setting. Ok, it’s a modern setting fantasy? In a fictional city? Where the fairies have only been around for a few generations? I don’t think it was supposed to be our world in the future. But that’s really all dressing, because what didn’t work for me the most about the setting was the fairies. Yea, that major thing the whole book was about and it didn’t work for me. Partly because there was no reason given for them, they just were, and partly because they majorly squicked me.

The fact that they just existed shouldn’t have bothered me. It should have just been covered by the ‘fantasy novel hand waving’ and yet it wasn’t. I think because they’re a mystery inside the story as well. No one inside the story really knows much about them either, they just showed up a few generations ago and some people still don’t believe in them and so you just have this question hanging over the book, and not in a way which indicates that the characters know it and you don’t or you know it and the characters don’t, just a mystery. It’s like the author said, well I need so and so to be good at this, and for so and so to learn this, oh I know lets make their talents the fault of some outside agency and that way I can shift them around.

And having shiftable talents sounds like a cool idea, until you start to think about the consequences. And those consequences are just brushed over feather light in the book. And that’s why the fairies majorly squicked me. I mean first of all we are presented with what is possibly the most horrifying magical ability ever, which is to make another human being totally give up their agency whenever they are around you and fall head-over-heals in romance novel love with you. And you can’t tell me that if a fairy exists that does it for boys, there isn’t also one that does that for girls. And guys, that’s just ew. And again, that ewness factor is brushed over. The main character, when she gets that fairy, is all, ‘well it sucks that the guy I like doesn’t really like me for me and it’s annoying that the boys follow me around’ but there doesn’t go further then that. And that leaves me with the nastiest feeling.

But then you also have the fact that the idea of shiftable talents takes away something from the individual. When you have a ‘shopping’ fairy, then someone who really is good at finding bargains is denied that talent, it becomes the fault of an outside force and nothing to do with the individual.

My final beef with the book is this; I wanted to know what happened with the trial. No really, I thought it would be so much more interesting then the whole ditching the fairy thing. Because that is something you can relate to. A young kid who is going to go against the expectations of the society she exists in, one that worships their celebrities and testify against one of those celebrities. However the book is about ditching your fairy and once that’s done then the major plot of the book is over. I just think the more interesting novel is the one that happens after the fairy is ditched.

I did like some things about the book. I liked the characters. Once I got past the annoying slang, Charlie is a very engaging narrator. And I liked her friends and the support group. And that’s why I wanted to see what happens in the trial. You could have Charlie realize New Avalon isn’t the center of the world (it happened rather quickly in the book, one sentence, and so it’s unbelievable) along with the drama of going against her societies expectations. But no.

To sum up: I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t even like it while I was reading it and I was even more disappointed when it was over. BLEH.