A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{October 22, 2010}   Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Plot: Laurel has been home-schooled her entire life. But before starting high school, her parents move away from their country home and enroll her in a public school. The idea scares her. It quickly becomes clear that she is different from her classmates, both in her strict vegan diet and in her constant need to be out of doors. In spite of this, she makes friends with a boy named David. But just as she thinks that she is starting to fit in, a flower sprouts from her back. She realizes that she is far more different than she ever imagined.

I picked up this novel during my faerie phase last year, back when every YA books seemed to be about changelings and girls falling in love with gorgeous, often amoral faerie boys. But then the glowing praise by Stephanie Meyer on the cover left me a bit hesitant to give the book a chance. I must admit to not being a great Twilight fan and I worried at finding more of the same. So the book sat in my to-read pile for quite a while before I decided to give it a chance.

I found Wings to be a pleasant read though hardly up to the standards of my favorites of the genre like Tithe and Wicked Lovely. Laurel was far to passive for my tastes, letting the boys save her from any and all peril. The little romantic triangle itself is interesting and I could appreciate Laurel’s struggle to chose between the beautiful, passionate faerie boy and kind, clever human boy who stands by her through all her difficulties. I don’t know which she will end up with in the end and I’m glad, I long ago grew tired of destined loves realized at first sight.

But what struck me the most in this story was Pike’s novel approach to faerie mythology. Her faeries are not magical creatures but highly evolved plants. She has clearly put some thought into this origin and it is fairly well executed.

However, while I could forgive Laurel’s passiveness, I was quite bothered by the easy association between beauty and goodness and ugliness and evil. Pike uses the theory of physical symmetry to prove the faeries’ perfection and explain why the ugly ogres are so twisted and evil. This very superficial morality leaves me quite uncomfortable. I know it is not an uncommon trope in fantasy but to see it so clearly spelled out was disturbing to say the least. I can’t help but wonder how the disabled, the overweight or even simply the plain fit into Pike’s universe. I don’t think I would like the answer.


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