Tuesday 30 June 2009

Review - Wings / Aprilynne Pike

Summary - Aprilynne Pike's WINGS is the first of four books about an ordinary girl named Laurel who discovers she is a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon. When Laurel is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she's torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to both worlds.

Review - Wings was definitely not my cup of tea. Poor characterisation, a plodding plot and unnatural dialogue did not make this a pleasant read. Scoffing quite often joined my grimaces and sighs as the pages slowly turned.

Laurel has to be one of the more insipid protagonists in recent YA literature. She's beautiful, subsides on lettuce and has a tendency to fall for guys as boring as she is. She's also a faery with a blossom (no this isn't a double entendre). Her worst character trait is her utter lack of intelligence and sense. Her insensitivity to David and Tamani's very evident feelings is abhorrent and Pike attempts to make it understandable by indicating that Laurel is oblivious. It's hard not to be snarky when there is so little to like about this novel. The concept is great but the execution is poor.

The dialogue was simplistic and clunky. Each line clanged as it read, no subtlety, no fluidity, no grace. Pike doesn't seem to be all that familiar with the fundamental rule of authorship - show, don't tell. Even the action scenes were unbelievably ponderous. My biggest pet peeve was a numerous page discussion between Laurel and Tamani about her faery origins where at no point did she bother to ask about her parents. As Laurel's an adopted child, I find it unbelievably ridiculous that this much needed topic is is forfeited for a discussion on pollen/blossom. I would argue that Laurel would still want to know who's blossom and pollen ...well, ah meshed. This frustrates me so much because I suspect that her "parentage" will become a factor in subsequent titles in this series. More than anything the exposition level in this book alone was excessive and clunky - free flowing, light handed plot development was needed.

A truly pedestrian read.

Published: August 2009
Format: Paperback, 356 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Origin: USA
_ _ _

**8th April 2010 - It has been nearly a year since this post's comment section has been closed I am reopening it. Be nice. I would also like to clarify that I didn't remove Johnathan's comments, he chose to delete them himself. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.


prophecygirl said...

I've been checking PS all day for this review! I enjoyed Wings (don't throw things at me) but I definitely see where you're coming from.

I completely agree with the parent thing. I wish she'd have asked about them!

Summer said...

ouch. lol. Very thorough review.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adele said...

Hey Johnathon - I have no problem with you reviewing my review or snarkiness.

Yes, I read the book thoroughly, as all my usual review readers know. And yes, I did realise that faeries don't have parents per se, I just didn't want to pepper the review with too much of me harking on about the one point. I think both you and I would agree that the couple I have written are enough.

I still think that a teen (even if she is a faery), especially one brought up in our world, would want to know her donors (that's how it mostly works with artificially conceived children). Like I said that was my pet peeve in the book, a quibble with a specific section that most people would have no issue with. However, had it been different, I would still have massive issues with the characterisation, plotting and dialogue.

As for the personal questions...I am not an aspiring author, just one that likes writing fanfic...for me. I would love to write a novel but I am discerning enough to know that I am kinda crap at writing. It's not sour grapes, if I were that jealous and petty, I'd be trashing Lisa Ann Sandell's Song of the Sparrow or Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters.

Yes, I am not terribly fond of Twilight in terms of literary worth but I did read them all. As a teacher, I think that it's a fantastic entry point to reading, or re-establishing a love of reading.

I like good fantasy - Tamora Pierce, Lisa Mantchev and Carrie Ryan are authors that I really think write well within that genre. I am learning that there is great stuff out there.

Feel free to snark it up, I am a little disappointed that you didn't bring up my hearty dislike of bananas though :)

james roy said...

It's very poor form for a reviewer to make assumptions about a writer's motives for writing a particular book. Someone once called my book Captain Mack "opportunistic", since 2000 was the International Age of the Older Person. This is incorrect, and if they'd bothered to ask, I would have set them straight. Similarly, someone once called my research "shoddy" because of the way I wrote about soldering/brazing/welding. I know. And apparently I wrote The 'S' Word with no regard for how it might be counterproductive to relationships. WTF? That's ALL it was about.

My point is that as a writer, nothing riles you quite as much as having someone draw conclusions about who you are, and the motives behind your work. Criticise the content, but you shouldn't get personal.

Johnathan, Adele didn't get personal. She gave a measured, honest review, not a personal attack. You, on the other hand...

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Please share your blogger profile Johnathan. I find you oh so interesting!

tony said...

Not to be fussy, Jonathan, but in a post where you offer criticism on the basis of failure to proofread posts, a sentence like "watch our for her readers..." somewhat undermines your case...

Anonymous said...

Johnathan -- are you serious? What happened to letting people express their personal opinion? I for one respect Adele for being honest, and hope she continues to do so.

By the way, are you by any chance related to Aprilynne Pike? Either that, or you're a huge fan of YA faery stories (which says a lot now, doesn't it?).

Adele said...

Johnathan, thanks for come constructive suggestions on how I can improve my review writing. I will take them onboard but ...I still don't like the book.

I wonder if you'd be as enthusiastic in commenting if I had enjoyed it. Despite my dislike of the book, I will be recommending it to some of my students as a book they might enjoy. I am open to the idea that some people like different things, specifically in book world.

If anything in your comment was meant to offend, I think it was your sentence about me liking "literary drek". Feel free to criticise my reviews (which you have), my hypocrisy (which you have) but how you can call Before I Die, Going Too Far, Dairy Queen, Town etc drek?

I am going to chalk this up to a difference in opionion. As for "good-natured teasing", I don't know you or your blog (if you have one) so why would I interpret that as fun?

Like I said, PSnark is a work in progress and I look forward to seeing your comments on other reviews, Johnathan!

Michelle Zink said...

You are one class act, Adele.

Adele said...

Just a reminder that comments shouldn't be personal. Thanks, A

Lisa Mantchev said...

A friend of mine just reminded me that "if your book hasn't gotten any negative reviews, it only means it's not being widely-enough read yet."

Wings has gotten a lot of great reviews, it's obviously being widely read, and there should be enough room for everyone's opinion on the internet.

(That said, I am speaking from a place of having received a 4/5 from Adele for my book AND having been mentioned as a fantasy author she likes, so there ya go.)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
james roy said...

Bait taken...

Johnathan, you ask me which I would prefer?

I would prefer that you tell us all, in a measured, non-personal way why you liked Wings. We'll all sit quietly while you have your say, and maybe even join in a discussion, because that's what we do here. And who you are, what you aspire to be or the apparent motives that drive your opinions won't even come up in the conversation. And we won't think less of you if you loved a book that we hated, or vice versa.

Also, I get the feeling that you used your second "attempt" at critique to get deeply personal, all under the guise of "making a point". If Adele was a highly-paid op-ed journalist, what you said would still be considered a little rude. But since she is doing this for the love of books and the readers who benefit from these books, I think you should try extra hard to keep it civil. We'll do the same when you launch your review blog.

And "inaccessible literary drek?" Drek? Are you serious?

Reverie said...

Adele, I agree with EVERYTHING you had to say! Wings.. IMHO is mediocre at best and you said it better than I can. Kuddos!

Jonathan....seriously. coming back over and over again to force in your pinion is just tacky. For you to do this there must be more to it and sadly we can't know that since you have no blog( that we know of) or any real opinions that we can base our judgment of you.

You know Adele and what she thinks and WHY she thinks that... but we can't say the same for you.

Adele, sweetie! Great review and thanks for being sooo CALSSY!!! Sucha great example!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reverie said...


Honestly, if a writer is going to write a book they know very well that it will be subjected to YEARS of criticism. I myself am an artist and have to remind myself every day that what I do is not going to be liked everyone. Sometimes, even no one. But honestly.. I back up the reviewers because they choose to be honest and they do it because they love reading. Because we don't know if a book will be good, bad or great until we read it there's no way of choosing our books. And we learn something new from each book. Regardless.... it is what it is and this constant badgering needs to cease. WE are not accomplishing anything by going back and forth.


Adele, sweetie I suggest you EX the comments!

Aprilynne Pike said...

Dear Jonathan, Thank you for your gallant defense, particularly as you appear to be a bookseller? Librarian? However, *whispers* you're not being entirely helpful. *timid smile*

*slips back into lurkdom*

Adele said...

Johnathan - I see that the Wings review irked you enormously and that's fine, the way you feel about this review is how I feel about the book. Maybe we can enjoy our irritation together?

Also, many of the books I have reviewed highly are Australian award winners - A Brief History of Montmaray and Town. Other more commercial titles are Wicked Lovely, Love You Hate You Miss You and Dairy Queen that are commercial. Not one of these titles is drek.

I don't pretend to be professional in reviewing. For me, PSnark was a way to provide resources for my very poorly resourced school. As someone who (I assume) works with kids in some way, I think you know that books are subjective. This is a book that I will be passing onto my young teen girls to read. But should they review on this blog, as my students do from time to time, I would hope you'd be more courteous.

That being said, I know what I like and if you push my parent question aside, I had other reasons for not responding to the text. Reasons many other bloggers and readers have also pointed out. The only difference is that the concept (while a great one) wasn't enough to make me forget those initial issues.

As for the claim that I have a hankering towards YA written for adults...not true. I just appreciate quality work for all ages. As I am such an expert on poor grammar and sentence structure, I am sure it makes it easier for me to recognise people of my own kind.

On that note, I am shutting down this comment thread as it's not productive at all.

Aprilynne - thanks for dropping by. Congrats on your success. While the book isn't my preference, it's obviously making many others very happy which is surely your aim as an author.

John The Bookworm said...

Had to stop and read this since you mentioned teh drama. I agree with your opinion, but it's always important to remember that someone, somewhere will probably enjoy reading the book. That doesn't mean you can't point out the flaws as you see them, either.

I put up with some major drama, too, so you aren't alone. It's like a rite of passage in blogging. Mine involved reviewing an adult title but being under 18. Oh the kerfuffle!

All the same - your reviews seem to have always been this lovely, and I make a good choice in following your blog.