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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Light as a Feather, Thick as a Board

Let's see, I give The Girl Who Could Fly 69 out of 99 luftballons.

Which means, it wasn’t horrible, but it was sure easy to put down.

I thought the concept was interesting, and I was looking forward to reading it, but in the end, I was a little let down. I guess you can keep a good girl down.

There were a few things that distracted me right from the start. Are there really towns (outside of Dr. Seuss books) where every single resident has two names that start with the same letter? Millie Mae, Jessie Jean, Rory Ray, Sally Sue, Timmie Todd, Junie Jane, Jimmy Joe, Gomer Gun, and of course, Billy Bob. I guess those sorts of names are notorious for belonging to dimwitted people, so maybe that was the effect the author was looking for. The only problem was, Piper (the one we were all supposed to be rooting for) was the dumbest of them all. Which leads me to my number one problem with the book…

Piper was as dumb as a door mouse. Simpleminded. Dimwitted. Clueless. Naive. And… she stayed that way throughout the book until the very end.

It would have been fine and dandy, wonderful even, if she had started out dumb, but by the end, had learned a thing or two and came out of it a clever and savvy young girl. I love watching characters overcome challenges… but the thing is, they have to grow and change and become better people for having experienced those challenges. Piper was sweet and brave right from the start, and in the end, she was simply sweet and brave. She didn't change the way I needed her to change. I needed her to visit the Wiz and get some brains. Sadly, Piper was the same ol’ dimwitted, simpleminded redneck in the end, which makes me think she didn‘t learn what she needed to learn. In fact, she proved to be slightly stupider in the end when she decided she’d “had enough schooling for the time being and wasn’t much interesting in going to school anymore.”

Um. Go to sckool kids. Please. Formal edukashun good.

It didn’t help that this is how I heard Piper’s voice in my head (Amy Poehler playing simpleminded MJ on SNL).



“Dang, Liz Taylor! I can fly. Look at that RAINBOW!”

To be fair to Piper, she wasn’t the only dummy in this book. All the kids at I.N.S.A.N.E. were pretty dumb, save for one... Conrad. Who I like to affectionately call Connie, as did his deadbeat dad. I loved him. He single-handedly saved this book for me. He was the only character with two brain cells to rub together. I believed the whole “this was his plan all along” thing. It reminded me of those clever Artemis Fowl books. And of course, like all smart people, he was the only character who learned something from the experience, and who came out of it a different person in the end.

What I did have a hard time believing was that the ability to fly somehow made Piper a precious commodity in the world of freaks, and placed her at the top of the hierarchy at I.N.S.A.N.E.. Don’t get me wrong, flying would be awesome, super fun, a dream come true… but what use is it really to anyone other than the flyer? More than once, a very weak argument was made that because flying was a rare talent, it was therefore a powerful and useful talent. Um, three-legged buffalo nickles are rare too, but I don't see what use they are to me unless Tony is gonna put 'em up on eBay. So unless Connie was planning to make a little cash off of Piper's flying skillz, the idea that he needed Piper's rare flying ability in order to escape seemed far fetched indeed. Especially when he had kids with x-ray vision, telekinesis, inhuman strength, shrinking powers, and healing powers at his disposal. All those powers are leaps and bounds more useful than flying.

High security or not, the institution seemed no match for a group of kids with these kinds of powers. It seemed to me, that once they were convinced they needed to escape, they would have simply needed to... leave.

In the end, Piper's "brilliant" plan of escape was just as easy and anticlimactic as that. All it proved to me was that Dr. Hellion was slightly stupider than Piper. "Run away? Never! I must make you normal. Huh? What's that? You want to rebel? Oh, that's different. Dang! You found the loophole."

BTW, if I had to chose from one of them super abilities in that book, I think I would pick Smitty’s X-ray vision, am I right ladies?

Ms. Forester left the ending open to a sequel. I don't know if I will read it (fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again), but I must admit, my interest was piqued by the "invisible guy" who simply went by the initial J. ... which was also the first initial of Dr. Hellion's "rogue" brother. Hmm, who could this mysterious J. character be, hmm, I do not know, but I'll bet Piper'll figger that there riddle out, once J. suddenly has a mental break down and tells her outright in the most awkward and inopportune of places. Still, my interest was genuinely piqued by creepy invisible guy. Too bad he didn't play a bigger part in this book.

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