A coworker acquired me a copy of Audrey Niffenegger's Raven Girl. He said there was something about it that made him think of me.
I'm pretty much okay with that. Just looking at the book is a treat. It's stunning visually, alone.
Raven Girl is a modern folk tale. It has all of the makings of a folk or fairy tale but with the modern twists.
It's the story of a postman and raven who fall in love. And it handles this, and everything that goes with it, without any questions. They fell in love they have a daughter and that's that. I never thought about the mechanics of it. it's just that sort of story. It's a folk tale. Of course they fell in love.
In the story their daughter is born a human girl, who can only speak raven. She knows she's a raven and sets out to learn to fly. Here's the modern twist part, she does so by going to a doctor and getting surgery to give herself wings by cutting off her arms. Since these modern type things are not usually in folk tales this part made me pause for just a second, and even then only after I was done. Niffenegger tells the story in a way that makes you keep reading, only allowing you to question once you've stopped. But this development I thought was kind of bold because the entire time I was reading I had this old world image in my head. It didn't feel like a modern story. It was an interesting take.
What felt the most random to me while reading the story was the presence of the boy in her biology class who develops the crush on her. It felt like an odd addition to a story that already had a love story (parents) and an internal conflict (raven girl) and the potential for drama (a raven court who doesn't believe that a raven and a man could fall in love and doesn't seem to agree with the idea). But he does become the focal point of a dramatic exchange that leaves the doctor dead. Then at the end he is lifted up by ravens and never seen from again. I'm still not entirely sure what to do with that part.
It wasn't until I read the end and found out that it was written at the request of a choreographer to be a new ballet that some of these elements (like the boy's longing for the raven girl) made more sense. They are things that I think would work well in a context like that that might have been a little odd in story form.
The story of course ends with the raven girl falling in love with a raven prince. A nice happy ending, without any of the messy questions. This sort of ending works well for the folk tale quality of it.
Overall, I give Raven Girl a rating of Massively Epic.
If you like folk and fairy tales this is definitely something you should check out. I wish I could see the ballet version, I imagine it is beautiful (at least the imagery). It's a really quick read and was definitely an interesting follow-up to The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Next I'll be picking up Mindy Raf's The Symptoms of My Insanity. She's coming to my work next month with a whole YA group of 2013 debuts so I'm trying to read as many as possible.
Later, my ducks