Wednesday, April 6, 2011

YAL Blog - "Except the Queen" by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

Title: Except the Queen

Author: Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

ISBN: 9780451462732
Publisher:  Roc

Date of Publication:  February 2010

Reading Level:  age 16 and up

Salt Lake County Library –
Sisters -- Fiction
Fairies -- Fiction
Young adult fiction
Fantasy fiction

My additions –
Urban fantasy

Synopsis: (from Salt Lake County Library catalog) - Cast from the high court of the Fairy Queen, sisters Serana and Meteora must find a way to survive in the mortal realm of Earth. But when signs point to a rising power that threatens to tear asunder both fairy and human worlds, they realize that they were chosen to fight the menace because they were the only ones who could do what must be done.

Comments: This book is interesting.  It’s written from the points of view of many different characters, but it’s not hard to follow (it helps that each chapter includes the name of the character this is speaking or that the narrator is following).  Because this was written by two authors, the styles and changes are very jarring and it was hard for me to follow what was going on until the last few chapters explained everything in detail.

There is something that bothers me about this story.  I don’t know if this is prevalent in stories about faeries or what, but there is an awful lot of attention towards physical beauty and what makes a person beautiful.  When Serana and Meteora are first banished by the queen, their bodies age and they become old.  They both constantly talk about how ugly they feel and how fat and bulky their bodies have become.  Sometimes they will encounter young and beautiful characters and they always make a point to say how jealous they are of young people because of their physical beauty.  I personally thought that got in the way of the story and it was very distracting.  I kept thinking what if someone is reading this book who’s had struggles with self-image and eating disorders – how would that person feel to read about two main characters who bemoan how old and fat and ugly they are?  Plus, it made it harder for me to sympathize with Meteora and Serana.  I almost felt as though they deserved what they got.

There’s also a lot of graphic language and descriptions of sex in this book (in fact, the whole story starts with the two faeries Meteora and Serana accidentally catching the Fairy Queen having sex with a mortal and they’re banished for it).  Sometimes, it seems like the story is secondary to the depictions of sex and that took me out of the story.

I like fantasy stories because the fantasy worlds would be a place I would like to visit.  The faery world of “Except the Queen” is not a place I would enjoy living.  I wouldn’t even like to live in Baba Yaga’s tenement.  I don’t care much for the dark and gritty aspect of the story.  Of course, this could be speaking purely to differing tastes and this just isn’t something I enjoyed.

Up Next: “Gregor the Overlander” by Suzanne Collins

On Deck: “Something Happened” by Greg Logsted; “Pretties” by Scott Westerfeld

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