Sunday, March 7, 2010

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

I picked this one up because of the title and the cover, and because the main idea seemed interesting. In the book's world, almost everyone has what they call a fairy--although no one's ever seen a fairy. Some people have a finding-loose-change fairy, or a never-getting-lost fairy. Main character Charlie (short for Charlotte) has a parking fairy, which means any car she's in will always get a great parking space. Charlie, who is fourteen, is sick of being borrowed by family members and friends when they're going somewhere. At the book's opening, she's been walking everywhere for two months in an attempt to starve her fairy out and get a new one.

That's a great concept, but it's what Larbalestier does with it that makes this book fantastic. Charlie has problems beyond her fairy: she loves basketball, but she blew the team tryouts; she's got more than just a crush on her new neighbor, Stefan, but she's not sure where she stands with him; and, of course, walking everywhere has made her late for class often enough that she's racking up demerits. She's desperate enough to get rid of her fairy even if it means asking for help from her arch-enemy, Fiorenze, a girl who has an all-the-boys-like-you fairy.

Charlie is tough but likable, funny without being snarky. The worldbuilding is excellent too--I thought this would be a fantasy, but it's far more science fictional. Charlie is a first year student at a sports school in what seems to be a city-state called Avalon; people in Avalon are so wrapped up in their city that they scarcely know (or care) anything about other cities. This combined with the strict rules of Charlie's school--ten hour school days, six days a week--give the book a slightly oppressive feel. It works with the story, though.

I've never read a book quite like this one. I'm not doing it a bit of justice with this review. I highly recommend How to Ditch Your Fairy.

B&N link

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