Friday, November 12, 2010

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner is a young adult post-apocalyptic story, which takes class after the war between humanity and Faerie has ended, bringing devastation and death to both sides. As a result, humans can no longer trust nature, even a tiny plant has threatening roots able to trap and kill. In addition, any child which shows signs of magic, specifically transparent strands in their hair, is left out for the Faerie to claim. Liza's baby sister was one such child, and at fifteen years old she discovers that she has Faerie magic herself and is forced to flee her town, following in the footsteps of her missing mother. On her quest Liza seeks to discover the truth, both about what really happened during the war, who the Faerie are, what happened to her sister and where her mother went.

I really enjoyed the basic premise of Bones of Faerie, although it has a lot of trademark young adult traits like a search for a missing parent and abuse at home, the friendly pet sidekick, Tallow which reminded me a lot of the dæmons in Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Unfortunately the comparison to Pullman, who I haven't read in a decade but was one of my very favourite authors in elementary school, definitely impacted how I felt about Bones of Faerie which is not nearly as impressive. Another similarity to His Dark Materials was the ability to cross between two worlds, in this case Faerie and Earth as we know it, which is something Liza seeks to do in order to find her mother. Admittedly Bones of Faerie made me really want to reread His Dark Materials- maybe my fond childhood memories are skewing my judgment but it really does make Bones of Faerie pale by comparison.

However, even without comparison Simner to Pullman, there were problems with the book, specifically the lack of character development. Upon introduction I loved most of the characters, especially Liza and her traveling companion Matthew, but I felt like they never really grew through the course of the novel. Many of the other characters were very two dimensional, in particular Liza's father who becomes a cardboard cut-out of a bad guy. Overall the book itself was just a little too simple for me, and combined with the fact that it is also a very clean read without any significant violence or sex, it's probably more appropriate for younger readers, possibly more of a middle grade book than young adult. Something I did appreciate is that although it turns out Bones of Faerie has a 2011 sequel Faerie Winter, the book itself is very self-contained and it is not the kind of increasingly common young adult novel which only tells a tiny bit of a story in a ploy to get you to buy the next one. Reading Bones of Faerie is a short but fulfilling read and there aren't any major plot points left unanswered.

Overall, I did love Simner's prose but I felt that she was let down by how quickly the novel moved without allowing for her rich words to create a rich and layered world, instead allowing for it to become a flat dead wasteland. Bones of Faerie has an interesting premise and may be a worthwhile book for younger readers, but I do not think it has a depth that allows it to appeal to an older YA audience who expects character growth as well. **

Number of Pages: 247 pages
Published: January 2009 
Source: Library Ebook

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