What follows: personal rantings about a YA read that, due to some unusual circumstances, I do not feel free to fully review here. Still, there were so many things not to like about this story that I thought I would share my thoughts in a more general sense.
*** tells the story of M who is kidnapped by E, her coach, then finds finds herself in another world where her memories of her lost parents give her magic strength to fend off threats. Having read *** and a number of other stories of late, written by men who fashioned young women as their main characters, I am inclined to swear off such stories—at least for the near future. The reason: with few exceptions, the young women portrayed have been shallow and unbelievable and have left me wanting. For example, M thinks E might be a predator when she and her friend first meet him because of the way he touches M and because of the questions he asks M. Yet, as the story unfolds, M believes E’s claims about the identity of the real evil to be avoided. Notwithstanding the fact that there had been no reason other than E’s word for this (and that there was good reason not to take E's word as truth), M believes him. Back and forth the two go from being the best of friends and helping one another, to throwing accusations of falsehood at one another. Of course, the person E identified as the villain does show up in the story as the harbinger of evil, but not until somewhere quite near the end. In the meantime, why does M believe E? I am sorry so say that I never figured out the answer to that question—which left me with the impression that M was easily impressionable. Gullible. Foolish.
Here is another example of the lack of depth in M’s character: she falls for the handsome AD. Everyone warns M against AD, yet M accepts AD’s invitations. From that point, AD condescends to M. At one point AD completes some instruction to M with: “Wouldn’t you agree?” “Oh, yeah,” M responded, “not sure of what she was agreeing to.” But, agree she did. Why? Because AD was hot. Also, M thinks AD is going to propose. He has something to ask of her and she is going to say “yes!” M thinks to herself: “I’m-going-to-stay-here-forever-and-live-in-this-big-house-and-be-a-fairy-princess.” Not just any fairy princess, mind you: “a professional fairy princess.” Then, when AD brings her a gift in a box “four feet long, maybe two feet wide,” M realizes that “Okay, it might not be a ring.” Unable to face truth, M reasons that the sword AD has given her shows that AD loves her. Thus, M surmises, she should “suck it up and be grateful.” (Hmmmm.)
With that as the background, it should come as no surprise that when M and AD go to retrieve a magic item from a creature—a monster at least seven feet high—AD leaves all of the fighting to M. M obliges—although she thinks all the time that “this is so wrong.” After AD watches M defeat the beast, M inquires “What the HELL were you doing just standing there while that thing was trying to shred me?!!” But, because AD tells M that she has done a tremendous job, and because AD got what he wanted from the beast (notwithstanding M’s having been warned against giving that something to AD), M forgives him. Oh, sure, she was “mad at him nearly the whole way home,” but, no further questions are asked. No—better M have the hot guy than use her own sense.
I can fully appreciate that there are young people, men and women, who are short sighted and see only what they want to see. However, it seems the idea of a heroine is that you have a character that is not the ordinary, the mundane, the foolish. The whole concept behind dubbing one a hero is that the character may be regarded as a model or ideal—or at least is one who tries to rise above her faults and shortcomings. Thus it is that M is not the model I would have for my teen daughters.
So—there—I'm through with my ranting! Boy, that felt good to get off my chest. . . .