Monday, December 3, 2012

The Finally Finished: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

It took me a month. A month! It took me a month but I did finally finished Catherynne M. Valente's  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Valente came to my work at the beginning of November and I had hoped to go. I was nowhere near finished with the book and didn't end up going.

I'm struggling a little with my feelings for this book. For the most part I read it in small pieces and I was okay with that. There was just something about it that worked in parts.

That's not to say that it isn't a good book. It's witty, fun, and well crafted. The story is exciting and action packed. But there was just something about it that made me want to take frequent breaks.

It's so involved and with the witty, not really nonsense nonsense it takes a little bit of patience and concentration to work through. There's nothing wrong with that it just wasn't what I wanted at the time. And then NaNo started and I felt no desire to push myself through it.

September is a strong, fun character. She definitely has that little kid 'this is not how things work in stories' attitude in places. But over all she takes everything that comes at her in stride. Like finding out that inanimate objects come to life once they are 100 years old. These terrible things happen to her and you feel a little bad but you also feel a little distant.

The narrator is such a biased, fully aware narrator that you are constantly reminded that you are reading a book. It's not a bad thing, again, but it does have to be handled carefully. Valente does an awesome job. This sort of narrator really only works with the right kind of story.

My favorite character in the whole book is easily A-through-L. How could you not love a character that is a wyverary! Part Wyvern, part library. He's sensitive and so caring. He's an amazing best friend! He goes wherever September needs him to. Plus, he has his own innocence and logic that I just absolutely love. There was just something about his character that hit me as right.

And of course there's Saturday and his bomb shell at the end! What?! He was a pretty well crafted character as well. He has a much quieter sort of affection that works well with the loudness of the others. At the same time he has the same kind of absent mindedness that A-through-L has where they get lost in the information that they know.

I didn't see the twist with the Marquess and Mallow coming. While I did like it as a twist, it also sort of came in as a really quick way to end the story. It was the big showdown between September and the Marquess and that went well but the secret is revealed and then everything happens so quickly. Then it was sort of like rapid succession of wrestling, safe, bye, bombshell, home! After all of the ridiculousness of the whole book the end felt odd and just so lacking in nonsense that it felt nonsensical. If that makes sense.

The whimsy that this book contains is just wonderful. I don't know how she comes up with half of this stuff. The eager to please smoking jacket, the witches and their spoons, the Leopard of small breezes, Gleam, September's adventures in Autumn. It's amazing. And the narrator really pulls it all together.

There's no room for skepticism in this book. You're being taken for a wild ride and you have to be open to it. I think that's one of the big reasons that it's a middle grade novel and not a YA. There are such wonderful truths in the books but you have to open to seeing them. You have to be willing to see the truth in the nonsense. I think a less cynical audience or an even older one gets that better.

Overall I give The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making a rating of:

I'm impressed with so much of this from a writing standpoint but there was still something a little off-putting about it. I know it was originally published in pieces so I may read the second book that way. Read a couple of chapters a week or one a day or something.

I still recommend the book. It's a great read for people who like major plays on language and clever characters. Or even just a good Alice in Wonderland type story.

Next up  I'm Reading E. Aster Bunnymund and the Battle of the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core (One day it will be a book with a short title!) the next in William Joyce's Guardians series.

Until later, my ducks!


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