Thursday, 17 January 2008

The Blue Girl - Charles de Lint

What a great book to start the year with! It was such a gripping read that at times I wished I could spend all day reading it, and at the same time I didn’t want to read it too quickly so that I wouldn’t come to the end too soon.
It’s my first encounter with Charles de Lint’s work, but I will definitely look for more books written by him. I can clearly see him becoming one of my favourite writers.
This one had a special meaning to me, even before I had the chance to read it. It was a book that I chose for a project for my MA in publishing. We had to pretend we were publishers and choose what books we were going to launch. Browsing Amazon for good young adult books not yet translated in Italian I was attracted by the beautiful cover art for “The Blue Girl” and immediately picked it. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since! And I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint me one bit. Sometimes it’s good to judge the book by its cover!

So, for those who never heard of Charles de lint, he is the founder of a subgenre called “urban fantasy”, where traditional elements of fantasy fiction and fairy tales like fairies, ghosts and all sorts of magical creatures mix with the urban setting of the modern world. The majority of his books are set in an imaginary provincial town called Newford, where anything is possible (a bit like in Sunnydale, and the references to “Buffy” don’t stop here, stay with me!).

“The Blue Girl” tells the story of 16 year-old Imogene, the new girl in town, who’s determined to leave her trouble-maker past behind her, and live a new life in Newford. Maybe that’s why she chooses to befriend Maxime, a shy, smart and bullied student, and tries not to draw attention to herself. But Imogene’s strong personality, punk look and straightforwardness don’t help to pass unnoticed. However she manages to keep things under control, including the school bullies, until Adrian, the Ghost of a lonely kid who died in the school’s parking lot few years before, falls in love with her and tells her about his fairy friends, the Little People, who live in their school. While Maxine is excited to think that fairies really exist as she always hoped, Imogene thinks it’s nonsense and refuses to believe it. And that’s when the trouble starts.

“The Blue Girl” is not only a well-written, funny and clever fantasy novel. It’s also the story of a typical High School, which can often feels like a horror movie. Where bullies can pick on the weak, the shy and the different, and where friendship become the only means to survival.
This is why this book reminds me so much of “Buffy the vampire slayer”. Imogene and Maxine’s relationships is so much like Buffy and Willow’s at the beginning. The quick, hilarious dialogues have the same feel, and Imogene’s casual attitude to the unusual and the scary is so like Buffy’s, even without superpowers. They also have a librarian called Ms Giles! Even if she’s only mentioned a couple of times. And what about the use of words like “research-mode” and “ghost boy”?
Don’t be put off, though, if you’re not exactly a Buffy fan. The book is far from being a rip off of the show. It’s unique in its values and perspectives. And it’s a must read for anyone who enjoys fantasy, adventures, cool dialogues and the idea of having a bunch of amoral fairies dressed like hippy with dreadlocks, an imaginary friend who’s not imaginary anymore, and some scary soul-sucking shadows all wrapped up in one single book!

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Nymeth said...

This sounds so good! You're not the first person I see saying he could become a favourite author after reading one book. I can;t wait to try him!

valentina said...

I don't think I could have chosen a better introduction to Charles de Lint. makes me want to read everything he has written!

Rhinoa said...

I read this last year and loved it as well. It was my first by Charles de Lint before going on to read Waifs and Strays which is a selection of his short stories which I highly recommend. They all feature teenagers as main characters so it goes well with The Blue Girl. I hope to read lots more by him soon and he is already in my top 5 favourite authors!

Em said...

Sounds great - I can't wait to read it! Thanks for the review! :)

jenclair said...

I like the way this sounds and have added it to my list. Thanks.

danielle said...

i've read this book for class and i found it to be really interesting. now i have to write a paper over how it was banned from library shelves and i can't find anything on it. is it banned? why?

valentina said...

Hi Danielle, I didn't know it was banned from library shelves, I'm sorry! Maybe because of how Imogene handles the bully at the end? (not exactly a model behaviour but it had to be done!)