Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book: The Blue Girl

It's been so long since I've read a Charles de Lint novel that I'd almost forgotten how fabulous a writer he is. The difference between this YA novel and the others I've been reading lately is like night and day. Don't get me wrong; I'm sure I would have adored Christopher Pike if I'd read his books in middle school -- but Charles de Lint is in another category altogether. His writing is just a beautiful thing.

Set in Newford, which I guess is a fictional town where many of his stories are set, Imogene is a tough girl trying to make her life different this year. She's the new girl in town, and although is a misfit by nature, she manages to pick out exactly the right girl to be her friend: Maxine. While Imogene is a rough-and-tumble thrift-shop-chic punk-rock gang girl, Maxine is quiet, studious, slightly nerdy and well-behaved. Match made in heaven right? Actually, yes. The two become best friends almost immediately.

The two navigate life at high school as the misfit twins, dodging mean-girl bullies and their meaner boyfriends, hanging out together and each influencing the other in (mostly) positive ways. Until Imogene sees the ghost boy. Adrian. The resident ghost at Redding High. From that moment on, things take a decidedly different turn. A turn for the worse. And things get really weird.

I loved the story, loved the characters, loved the writing. This is intelligent teen writing -- smart enough for an adult, not dumbed-down in any way. Lyrical yet grounded, de Lint brings the most fantastic characters to life, bringing a sense of the everyday to the otherworldly happenings.

I really enjoyed Imogene's character. She was a fun mix of punky rebel and wannabe good-girl. Her friend Maxine was interesting to watch blossom from a wallflower to a powerfully brave young woman, ready to do anything to help her best friend.

Although there were brownies gone bad, and soul-eaters, and ghosts and imaginary friends come to life, this was mostly a story about the strength of the bonds of friendship, and being brave in ways you never imagined, and finding out what kind of person you actually want to be. I completely enjoyed the experience of reading this book; it was the sort of book you can really curl up and get into and really enjoy.

Lovely, fun, and perfect for Halloween (it's set just about this time of year, and the major event happens on Halloween), I am now back into the Charles de Lint groove. I have an adult novel of his here at home somewhere and I know there's at least one more adult novel at the library. And clearly, his YA novels are also completely readable.

But first, my last (I imagine) RIP book: The Terror. I can't wait to read this! I'm starting it tonight.


Nymeth said...

I love it when children's and YA writers don't feel the need to dumb things down just because they're writing for a younger audience. I've heard great things about The Blue Girl and I really look forward to reading it. In fact, it may be the next De Lint I get (there's The Little Country waiting for me on the shelf first, though).

I hope you enjoy The Terror! I've seen some very positive reviews of that one as well.

Daphne said...

Oh, I loved, loved loved The Little Country. That was my first de Lint and it was so beautiful. I think you'll enjoy it.

Kate said...

Did you get this at Powell's with me? I remember there being a de Lint novel somewhere in sounds like I simply must read some of his work now.

Daphne said...

I did get a de Lint novel but not this one... but now it's back on my list of TBRs! Yes, you must read some de Lint, you will love him. Beautiful writing.