Sunday, November 7, 2010
Book Chop: The Girl Who Could Fly
Title: The Girl Who Could Fly
Author: Victoria Forester
Genre: Middle-Grade sci-fi
Verdict: Well, wow. What a neat little book.
Last year I saw this book when I was working for Deseret, it came in with a regular shipment. The hardcover artwork totally didn't capture my attention. It looked kind of lame, and I wasn't going to read it just because Stephenie Meyer plugged it. (She did give props to THE HUNGER GAMES, one of my favorite books, but that's not a measuring stick.)
Well, the above image is on the paperback, and when I pulled it out of a box this year I did a double-take. It looks really cool, doesn't it? Kind of comic-booky, like a graphic novel. It took me a minute to realize I'd seen it before, and actually wanted to look at the inside this time. They still gave prime placement to the Meyer quote on the front cover, which let's be honest, is a smart move. You put Meyer's name on something, and millions of chicks will buy it even if it sucks.
Anyway, I bought the book based on the premise: a little girl discovers she has the ability to fly, and gets taken away to a facility for kids with special abilities. I figured there'd be a lesson included, and not just a good story. I'm glad I got that impression.
The main character, Piper McCloud, starts out in a "Little House on the Prairie" setting. The narrative and character voices fit that setting very well, and it's a lot of fun to read. Forester did a good job with that. That kind of changes when she goes to the Facility, where she meets other kids with powers (speed, intelligence, X-ray vision, etc.) Not many of these powers are super original, and that's fine. It works for the story.
The second half of the story is part X-Men, part Incredibles. The focus of the facility is to remove special abilities from people that have them. In fact, it kind of smacks of Lois Lowry's THE GIVER. And that's a good thing. Piper and her new friends have to find a way to save the facility's occupants from Dr. Hellion, the lady in charge of the place.
I liked the varying tones of the characters. Piper was religious by way of upbringing, very proper and very polite. Science got the stage as well through other characters, so it showed intellectual diversity (although the phrase "reverse global warming" showed up in a really contrived context, which was a little much.)
The story had a very good moral by the end, one that came across easily without being heavy-handed. Instead of tearing excellent people down to a standard of "normalcy," it celebrates the things we all exceed in, the things that make us different by way of talent and accomplishment.
My only complaint has to do with perspective: at times (and at random), it would switch from one character's point of view to another character, with no break, no indication, no proper structure. It pulled me out of the story a few times, as overall it was written in third-person limited. Not a bad book, but I didn't like that aspect of it. I think an editor should've caught it, but oh well.
A good book, and worth the 7 or 8 bucks in paperback. I'll be reading it again.