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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



Thao said...

Yay for your first review! I think this is a book my best friend will enjoy...she loves fairies and the likes.

Willowe said...

Yay! Reviews from Paradox! ;D

The book sounds awesome. I've actually been meaning to read it for awhile, but maybe now I'll actually go try to hunt it down...

Bookworm said...

Great first review, can't wait for more! I have this book on my shelf and I can't wait to begin! (:

prophecygirl said...

I like the sound of this one, thanks for the review!

The Not So Closet Geeks said...

What a wonderfully detailed review! HTDYF sounds really cute, too.

Micol Ostow said...

Nice review--I LOVED this book--agree with you that it's totally unique, and I really enjoyed the created slang, as well.

Pandragon said...

Sounds awesome... and good review btw. I'll have to steal it from Willowe when she's done. :D

Anonymous said...


Danielle said...

Nice review, I'll check this one out!

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