Monday, October 20, 2014

Bitter Blue Wind

My computer has finally decided to behave...sort of, but it is working well enough to hopefully get this blog back on track.  To kick of my birthday week I thought I would start with a rambling about a book that I've had on my list all fall.  The book is The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente.  This is the third book in my beloved Fairyland series and with the other two I had to wait for the perfect weather to read this.  Before we get to my thoughts on the book, here is my attempt to summarize the plot, such as it is.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Our girl September turn 14 in this book, and has grown much since we first met her.  She has survived her father gone to war, his return as an injured veteran, her mother working on planes, school and of course overthrowing not one, but two despotic rulers in Fairyland.  September is longing to go back to Fairyland and counting the days until the year is up and she can return.  This of course makes her "real" life seem dull and unbearable by comparison.  To keep herself from going crazy, she works hard to save up money so that she can have some resources of her own when she finally gets back to Fairyland.  She learns to drive an old car, and makes money doing delivery's,
mending fences, taking care of animals and so forth, all very grown up.  September is finally taken back to Fairyland by the Blue Wind, a Wind unlike her Green Kin, is a wild, bitter, cold wind who has none of the kindness September had from her friend the Green Wind.  September ends up as an Official Revolutionary and Criminal and is given clothing to mark her as such.  She is given a task to deliver a box to the Whelk of the Moon.  She travels up to the moon in her little car that also got transported to Fairyland and meets all sorts of creatures.  She eventually ends up in front of the Whelk of the Moon and learns that the giant city of Almanack, which is contained in a shell is how the Whelk keeps all of her people safe.  She can't open the box and sends September to a library to open it and lo and behold, she finds her beloved friend A-L (known as Ell) her Wyverary.  They open the box and find the Sapphire Stethoscope and we learn the story of the Yeti's Paw.  September is reunited with her Marid Saturday, and discovers she has some new feelings about this friend of hers.  A whole ton of stuff happens, as it does in these books and in the end we discover the moon is having a baby moon and this is the reason behind a lot of the goings ons.  September feels the sensation that happens when she has to leave Fairyland and begs to stay.  The Blue Wind, shows just how devious she is when she lets September stay in Fairyland.  Meanwhile back in our world Septembers parents frantically search for their girl.
As long as that synopsis was it really does not do the book justice.  As with the first two, trying to summarize all the little bits and pieces and story lines and characters and vignettes is pretty impossible.  That being said, one of the reasons this one was harder to summarize was because it seemed to be less of a story and more of a portrait of emotions.  There are a lot of concepts in this book that seemed to be a bit old for the middle grade reader that this book is supposed to be targeted towards.  I know the author stated that she wanted September to grow up through out the books, and in that regard she has succeeded, but this book felt more like it was focusing on what the author felt were growing up teenage feelings and less on the adventure of Fairyland.  All of the really amazing pieces were there, the author still has a fantastic imagination and knows how to utilize it, but for me it felt like every little vignette came with either some moralizing, or long drawn out emotional struggle or some other esoteric bit that seemed to slow the book down.  Of all the locations we've seen I found the Moon to be the most bleak and barren, I almost felt like I needed to read it in winter instead of the vibrant fall of the first two.  This is not a bad thing, as the contrast of the Moon to Fairyland and
Fairyland Under was pretty cool and added some great dimension to the overall world building.  As always the sheer originality of the characters, places, and objects leaves me wanting to just curl up and see how crazy I can let my imagination go.  I love how the author does not constrain herself by the laws of physics or probability or convention at all, it adds to the sheer fantasy of the book.  The word usage was fabulous as always, making me so glad that I am a logophile (somebody who loves words).  There seemed to be a bit of an obsession with currency, and having babies.  September has a hard time with the fact that she and Saturday will have a daughter together, part of her issue is the inevetableness of it (which is understandable), but childbirth is brought up alot.  The whole the moon giving actual birth to a baby moon, complete with labor, blood, and an umbilical cord was kind of weird.  I also found that you had to have read the first two books for this one to make any sense at all. Overall I liked the book, but did not feel the same kind of overwhelming love that I did for the first two.  There was a feeling of melancholy, which while I do remember from being a new teenager, made this book a bit of a slow read. I give this book 7 out of 10 fizzy orange drinks and recommend it to anybody who has started the series.
Can you keep up the crazy expectations through out a whole series?  How do you feel about characters growing up through out a series?  Where did you want to run away to when you were growing up?  Is it strange that I still want to run away to a fantasy land?

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