Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don’t ALL throne rooms have that feature?


Ok, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale was published 6 years ago, so I’m not really worried about spoilers at this point. If you are, you might want to stop reading. However, I assume that if you are reading this blog you are in possession of an astute and finely honed intelligence, and nothing I say here would be any surprise to you, even if you haven’t read the novel.

I say that because there was nothing about The Goose Girl that was not entirely predictable. Entirely. I mean, it’s a given in this type of story (usually) that the heroine wins the prince, however, this went beyond the natural level of predictability with the villain being obvious, the villain’s goal and motive being clearly apparent (before there was ever real confirmation of WHO the villain would be, or, at that, IF there would be a villain), who the mysterious noble was, and, above all, exactly HOW it would all work out (not THAT it would work out, of course that would happen).

But here’s the remarkable thing. I DID NOT CARE. I did not care one whit that I knew how it would all play out, down to the very mode of resolution. And that, my incredibly intelligent friends, is a remarkable feat of writing. I read The Goose Girl almost straight through.

Now, I can’t really say that fairy tale plots get old; they generally turn into cozy blankets (although, to be honest, I’m a little sick of that 12 dancing princess tale, authors, please stop adapting it, thanks), but that alone can not make a compelling read to a discerning audience. What carried this novel were the characters.

It is not a surprise to me that this one book has gone on to inspire an interlocking series. The secondary characters were interesting and varied, and I am eager to read Enna Burning and River Secrets based on my introductions to the main characters in those two titles in this book. And Ani. Oh, Ani, how you grew through this novel. How you learned strength in yourself, first through (possible) artifice, then strife. And while I hate this term, you truly blossomed into a confident future queen. You never would have been able to rule your birthland, not with their nature (for even the settings had character), nor without the travails.

The language was great, and Hale truly captured the tone of the fairy tale in a wonderfully developed world. Some of that predictability, is as I said, unavoidable when working with this genre, other elements are due to some rather clunky foreshadowing.

The novel, as I’m sure you realize, is based on a fairy tale, but Hale, as she did with The Book of a Thousand Days, owned that world, skillfully setting up the next installments. Or so I assume, as I haven’t read them yet. But, as I picked up Forest Born at WASHYARG last week, I’ll need to read all of them before December 4th, when my review is due for that. Since I’m cursed with an obsession with chronology…

7 comments:

The Compulsive Reader said...

I JUST finished Forest Born, and I loved it! As much as I adore The Goose Girl (it's my favorite!), I think that Hale's writing gets even better as the series progresses. The big twist in Forest Born had me jumping and gasping, as I'm sure it will you! Enjoy going through the series!

tanita davis said...

Yeah, there's something to be said for a Hale story, that just sets you in a wee little boat and floats you along -- and you know you're in good enough hands that you don't have to do anything but enjoy the journey, even as you know the destination.

Scrumptious said...

I, too, just reviewed this 6 year old book! And had pretty much the exact same opinion you expressed here!

I don't know how I found your blog but now that I know you're a kindred spirit I will definitely be coming back!

Scrumptious said...

Oops, I meant to link you to the review. Scroll to the end for The Goose Girl.

http://ya4oa.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/best-of-2009-my-2009-that-is-childrens-middle-grade/

Scrumptious said...

Oh, boy. I didn't care for Enna Burning, you didn't care for Forest Born... my reading list is so absurdly long right now that I could add River Secrets to the bottom and be pretty confidently assured that I would never get to it. (I add the books I'm most excited about to the top of the list, so it grows from both ends!)

I just don't think I should risk it. Reading Enna Burning made me doubt myself and the magical, enraptured feeling I had when I read GG. That's why I was so delighted to find your review!

If you do read River Secrets please let me know what you think. I would love to find another book I would enjoy as much as GG!

Sarah Louise said...

I love the Beauty books by Robin McKinley for the same reason--I know how they end, but it's all the extra details...my father says I asked for Cinderella every single night, so clearly I don't care if I know how something ends...sometimes, because I can be skittish it HELPS to know how it will end, that it will end well, with a happily ever after.

xo,
SL

Sarah Louise said...
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