Wednesday, May 09, 2007
I have been remiss in posting. I am often remiss in posting. Yesterday I went to a reader's advisory session for teen librarians and I thought to myself, hey, I've been reading some teen books I'd like to recommend to the world. I even have the ability to recommend teen books to the world. Wow, I should really post something on the book blog. So here it is. My teen book recommendation of the day: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.
I got my hands on an advanced reading copy, (okay, I stole Kristin's advance reading copy) read the blurb, and had a feeling I'd like the book. Urban fantasy setting, hot punk characters, dark and disturbing faeries. . . this is all right up my alley. It sounded like something Holly Black fans would like, but then I worried that it was going to end up being a disappointing Holly Black ripoff.
I am happy to report that it was not a disappointing Holly Black ripoff. I think the author might have been influenced by HB, or perhaps just has the same interests: faerie lore, cool music, unusual characters... all that good stuff. I tore through this book in about a day and a half. This time would have been much shorter if I'd been able to blow off such irritating obligations as going to work, showering, and speaking to other people. Obviously, I liked the book. I can tell that teens are going to like this book too. I see it turning into a trilogy or a series as it ends in such a way to invite sequels. That's not to say the ending is unsatisfactory or fails to come to a conclusion, which is an aggravating trend in teen literature. Yes, we will probably want to read the sequel anyway! Do you have to leave us hanging? This book has a definite ending and the ending is satisfying.
But let's begin at the beginning, shall we? Wicked Lovely starts with a young woman (a main character whose name I have, sadly, forgotten) preparing to take a dangerous test which will determine whether or not she is the Summer Queen, the one who will take her rightful place beside Keenan, the young "man" she has fallen in love with swiftly, wholly, and uncompromisingly in a period of only a few weeks. She has only recently discovered that Keenan is not a man at all but one of the fey. And he's not just any fey (or faerie) but a king of the fey. Keenan is searching for his queen, the woman who will put the courts of the fey back into balance, tipping control away from his cruel mother, Beira, the Winter Queen. He has been searching for his queen for centuries and he hopes that this young woman will--finally---be the One. The young woman is taking a huge risk. If she fails the test, she will be enveloped in Beira's ice and destined to spend as many years as it takes to find another girl, foolish enough or hopeful enough, to take the test herself. Even though what happens next happens in the first three pages of the book I am not going to tell you whether or not she passes the test. So let's move on.
Enter Aislann (I think you pronouce her name "Ashlyn" since all the characters refer to her as "Ash" but I am not entirely sure, and this bugs me). Aislann is human, but unlike most of the happily oblivious population, Ash can see the fey and this freaks her out. One of the premises of the book is that the world of the fey exists all around humans, who are blind to their presence. Fey can walk among humans unseen or interact with them, masked in glamor. But Ash can always see them, in every hideous permutation, engaged in every unkind, cruel act they choose to inflict. Ash knows that to survive she musn't let the fey realize she can see them. She has firm rules to keep her from slipping and revealing herself. But the strain of it all is wearing on her. And when one of the fey takes an interest in her, and even starts to follow her, she's almost beside herself with fear.
Enter Seth. Oh, Seth. Between him and the Summer King, the girls will be swooning. I have a feeling most readers will prefer Seth, but I can see passionate arguments for the Keenan side of the equation. Keenan is the hot (literally and figuratively) icon of summer, embodying all the lazy, sensual appeal of that time of year, packed into an amazingly good-looking vessel who just happens to wield immense(if not full) power. And what does he need most? His queen. But Seth, now Seth, is the kind of wonderful guy that all teen girls (and some adults who should know better) dream about meeting all their lives---sensitive, intelligent, hot, super cool, devoted, loving, experienced, always thoughtful, and with his very own super cool place to live and show off his very fine taste in music. In short, guys like Seth do not exist. This is why we love them so in books. Ash is mad about Seth, but she can't figure out whether or not Seth returns her feelings. She does not want to become one more notch on his bedpost (I told you, Seth is experienced) so she decides to remain "just friends." Yes, she keeps this outrageously wonderful catch at arm's length (which is great for sexual tension), but Seth is determined to figure out what is so troubling his good friend, Ash. Ash spends a lot of time with Seth, not only because he is dreamy, but because his super cool place to live is an old train car, made of so much iron that the fey do not like to go near it. Against her better judgement, Ash reveals her secret to Seth, and Seth tries to help her fight the fey, or at least figure our why the fey are suddenly taking such an interest in Ash. But humans have little to no chance against creatures with such power as the fey, and it's possible that Ash will lose everyone she loves (which really turns out to be just Seth and her grandmother, since she's shut everyone else out) to something she can not control.
The story is really about two parallel and competing relationships, and the issue of whether or not a person can escape or control destiny. Actually, in a way, it's not about two relationships but about two love triangles. You know someone's going to be unhappy at the end of the day. Which makes me consider the ending. I liked the ending, though it felt ever so slightly bumpy. But just a little bumpy. I wasn't into the book for the action, but for the interaction between the four main characters.
The book comes out in early June. It's well-written with a great cover and a very appealing story line with not one but two delectable male characters. If you want to read it from your library you should probably put it on hold now because it is not going to stay on the shelf.
A final note: I'm not exactly sure why it's called Wicked Lovely except, I assume, because the fey are wicked and lovely both. And I just love books about the wicked faerie. (How did our culture turn terrifing faeries into sweet little cherubic looking fairies anyway?!!)