Win Cleopatra's Daughter or The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran!

Enter to win one of these great historical novels! The contest ends on September 25th. Click Here to Enter!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

Yes! It's my first real review! I'm sorry that it's so long, but I went a bit overboard.

Genre(s) - Fantasy, a little science fiction
Pages - 320
Publisher - Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Publication Date - September 16, 2008

Rating -

Plot - 25/30
Writing - 18/20
Characters - 16/20
Creativity - 18/20
The *Wow* Factor - 7/10

Grand Total - 84/100

Grade - B

Summary (From Amazon) -

Welcome to New Avalon, where everyone has a personal fairy. Though invisible to the naked eye, a personal fairy, like a specialized good luck charm, is vital to success. And in the case of the students at New Avalon Sports High, it might just determine whether you make the team, pass a class, or find that perfect outfit. But for 14-year-old Charlie, having a Parking Fairy is worse than having nothing at all—especially when the school bully carts her around like his own personal parking pass. Enter: The Plan. At first, teaming up with arch-enemy Fiorenze (who has an All-The-Boys-Like-You Fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, it isn’t at all what she thought it would be like, and she’ll have resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy. The question is: will Charlie herself survive the fairy ditching experiment? From the author of the acclaimed Magic or Madness trilogy, this is a delightful story of fairies, friendships, and figuring out how to make
your own magic.

Review -

Even though HTDYF got a B in my rating system (largely because of loose ends in the plot and characters), I absolutely loved the idea of this book! It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in the fantasy genre. I am constantly looking for original books like this, and I wasn’t let down by the creative setting of the story. The Amazon summary doesn’t go into this much, so let me explain a little. The story takes place in the city of New Avalon, which is fairly modern and a little futuristic and located in a country that is a mixture of the USA and Australia and in a world similar to ours. But the country is never named and there is almost no information given about the world outside of New Avalon. This might be to demonstrate the extreme self-centeredness of the city’s inhabitants. The people of the city don’t really care about anything happening elsewhere and idolize their celebrities (called “Ours.”) One of the major differences between their world and ours are the fairies. They aren’t little people with wings in HTDYF, but invisible beings that give a specific form of good luck to their owner. It is impossible to detect them and little is known about fairies, so some even doubt their existence. The belief in fairies almost seemed like a religion at times, and a person who did not believe was considered an agnostic.

I liked the characters in HTDYF, and they were fairly original, but there were a few things about them that bothered me. It isn’t necessarily the character development, but at times they could be quite annoying. I found it hard to sympathize with Charlie (a girl), the main character, at times. Since the book was written in first person, it also seemed that there wasn’t enough attention on many of the characters. I would have liked to learn more about Charlie’s sister, her friends, and Steffi/Stefan (a new boy who ends up as her boyfriend.) My favorite character was probably Steffi, who had just moved to New Avalon and pointed out many of the city’s flaws.

There were a few things about Charlie’s world that were almost disturbing. One thing was the lack of interest in places outside of New Avalon that the people seemed to show, or even the thought that they were superior to everyone else. Another thing was the school system. There were different schools for things such as sports, arts, etc., which seemed to be set up just to groom students for certain jobs and to pick out future Ours. Anyone in a general school was considered untalented. Also, the amount of privileges the Ours had was scary. A famous person in New Avalon was almost above the law. Even students who were destined to be famous would never get into trouble, even for something like forcing someone to get in their car (like one character did to Charlie.) Even going to court against an Our was useless. Charlie tended to believe that these things were normal. I had hoped she would end up more open-minded in the end, which she did, but it was often more of the opposite. Steffi began to accept some of these things when I was mentally yelling at both of them to do something. This didn’t really fit with the “cute” novel HTDYF seemed like it was supposed to be.

Charlie’s quest to get a new fairy and her trouble on the way to this was the main plot, and it was well done. The story only ran into some trouble with side plots and undeveloped ideas that got to be fairly annoying. The few bits of information about the world outside of New Avalon were like money on a string that gets pulled away as you grab for it. If the book were part of a series, I would understand this. But as far as I know, HTDYF is standalone. Another thing that was never explained was what happened to Fiorenze’s mother’s fairy research and book, which had the potential to enlighten the world about fairies. A few other things were hinted at but never explained in depth, such as the fact that people outside of New Avalon hated the city, or that outside of the city there were many who held different beliefs about fairies.

For the most part, I enjoyed the way that HTDYF was written. It was in first person, so I really got to know Charlie and her unique and funny voice. One thing about the book that other reviewers seemed to have trouble with was New Avalon’s invented slang (for which there is a glossary at the back of the book), which they seemed to find distracting. I didn’t have any problem with it. In fact, I thought it was fun and added character to the world it was set in.

Though I didn’t find HTDYF to be perfect, it was still a lot of fun. But I hope that the author writes more books set in this world so some of the more annoying loose ends can be tied up.

Book From (Review Group, Bought, Library, Publisher, Author, Contest, Etc.) - Library


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Call To Action... Or Something Like That

Did I get your attention? Well, if you haven't heard already, Laura of Laura's Review Bookshelf ( is recruiting new followers for her blog. Really, go look at it! She has a lot of reviews, especially for upcoming books, and has a lot of contests... and yes, this post is contest related. Two people who promote her blog and two people sent there will get the book of their choice!

So go over to the blog and say that Paradox referred you! --->

And to make this sound even better... If you go to Laura's blog and leave a message saying I referred you, and then come back here and say you did it, you will get an entry in a sort of contest. This is completely unrelated to the book of choice contest. But after you leave a message at her blog and come back to say you did it, you can also leave the title of a book you'd like me to use in my next fan art book cover! It can be any book I didn't already post in my fan art book cover post. When Laura posts her winners I will use a randomizer to pick a "winner" from among the comments here and make a fan art book cover for the book suggested.

I hope I didn't confuse you.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Books Read in January 2009

Everyone else is doing it, so here's my list of books read in January:

(I didn't read as much as I wanted to, but I read some great books, which I have starred on the list.)
  1. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  3. *Welcome to the Ark by Stephanie S. Tolan
  4. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling
  5. The Wandering Schoolgirl Book 01 by Gary L. Gallegos and Louis C. Gallegos
  6. 100 Girls by Adam Gallardo and Todd Demong
  7. *Invisible Touch by Kelly Parra
  8. *Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley
  9. Chalice by Robin McKinley
  10. *The Good Neighbors: Kin by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh
  11. Gem X by Nicky Singer
  12. Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Did anyone else read some of these books? What did you think of them?

I also plan on reviewing some of these (but not all of them, because I'm just too busy to review all the books I read.)


Three Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide