I had sooo many mixed feelings about this one guys. There was a lot that was well done and then, for seemingly no reason, there was ideas shoved in here that I had a lot of problems with.
To start with, I did appreciate the writing. It was witty, striking and had plenty going on under the surface. I felt like that added to the uncanny element and the air of mystery. And boy were there quite a few mysteries to contend with and many layers to the narrative.
The story centred on two groups of girls finding a spellbook and there were consequently quite a lot of characters, which could have been tricky to keep a grasp on, but all of them were distinct and the voices separated them out nicely. I did also like the characters overall- they all felt necessary to tell the story and had their own problems woven into the plot.
That said, it felt like the book was missing something (no pun intended). Sure there was that eerie element, but it felt like everything could have been explained, which meant it didn’t hold the charm of actual magical realism. Plus while I did like the message at the end was lovely, to find the magic all around us, it didn’t feel quite like an ending and was more of a moral. And that’s okay- just not something I was really looking for.
Especially since it drew attention to the authorial intrusions that I’d had trouble with throughout. Because while there were a lot of smart things in this book that I loved, there was a not-so-smart thing to counterbalance it- which brings me to some of the random shit that was in this book that it could have done without:
- The fact that a character was raped when they’re unconscious at a party and said something to the effect of “I’ve read all the feminist blogs and know there’s nothing you can do”- which seems like an incredibly irresponsible thing to tell young people. I’m not judging people’s decisions here, but actively telling people not to bother reporting crimes is not a good message.
Why does this book set up the idea that the “heteropatriarchy” has decided there’s only one way to lose your virginity- strawman much? Literally nobody even in the book brought this discussion up. The main character just presents the idea and refutes it- so why is it there at all? Especially since no one in the world of the book even cares and I don’t care, so just bugger off.
- Just the casual mention of Faulkner’s “kill your darlings”, which always irritates me no end because if Faulkner had killed his darlings he’d have executed his whole goddamn book.
None of what I’ve said there will probably be popular opinions, but whatever, that’s why I gave it:
Rating: 3½/5 bananas
So have you read this? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!