Saturday, 7 March 2009

How to Ditch Your Fairy / Justine Larbalestier

Summary - 'Rochelle gets a clothes-shopping fairy and is always well attired; I get a parking fairy and always smell faintly of petrol. How fair is that?'

For Charlie, having a parking fairy is worse than having nothing at all - especially since she's not old enough to drive. Enter The Plan: swap fairies with her archenemy! But Charlie discovers that you ought to be careful what you wish for - and she'll have to resort to extraordinary measures to set things right.From the author of the acclaimed Magic or Madness trilogy, this is a delightful story of friendships, fairies, and figuring out how to make your own magic.

Review - I admit to having many preconceptions prior to reading this book based on the title, the cover art and the blurb. I thought the fairy would be a corporeal being, one that Charlie would interact with. There wasn't and I think I was mourning the loss of it throughout.

Charlie is a pretty self-centred, sports-driven fourteen year old who's trying desperately to ditch her car parking fairy. You see, in New Avalon everyone has a fairy that manages one specific need or skill. This is a very interesting town where they are scarily insular, not thinking outside their city's boundaries, worshipping those without talent and attending sports specific schools. (I think there might be some societal commentary there lol).

The entire plot requires you to sympathise with Charlie's predicament. I didn't. I don't think she really had it all that bad. On the other hand, Fioreze does - a fairy that attracts all like aged males is in a scary predicament. This is the first Larbalestier novel I have read and I am impressed with her style; the plot moved quickly, had a deft touch and hefty doses of humour. But I was ambivalent and sometimes annoyed with Charlie and that was an issue. (I am very willing to chalk that up to my age, rather than JL's writing). I think some great concepts were integrated, that being too focused on your goals can have positive and negative connatations.

I had some problems with all the kid snatching - Danvers would have had a restraining order on him so quick his head spun in real life. The aggresive means in which the guys would approach Fioreze and then Charlie also troubled me but I do think it was supposed to. Fairies possess amazing powers. I think there are many concepts in this tale that sometimes bog down the flow but it is an entertaining read.

I love the use of an alternate universe setting and would to have seen some expansion upon it. In my interview with Larbalestier this week, she said that she was finished with New Avalon so a sequel does not look like likely. The vocabulary of New Avalon was interesting too, I have always had an affinity for aged language and we see that with words like pulchritudinous peppered throughout the dialogue. It took me awhile to adjust to it but it definiely added to the feel of the narrative.

How to Ditch Your Fairy is an interesting look at an insular, magical society combined with the selfish wants of a teen. Humour is prevalent and it's definitely worth checking out!>

AYA featured HTDYF this week, there you can find; a Justine Larbalestier interview, the AYA ReviewChat and other features. Coming soon ... Charlotte McConaghy's Arrival.

Published: March 2009
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Publishers: Allen and Unwin, Australia
Origin: USA

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