Wednesday, May 06, 2009

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Need by Carrie Jones
3Q 5P; Audience: J/S

Imagine this: There's a small, isolated town in Maine. Boys start disappearing from that town. Not just one boy. A few. No clues are left behind. No signs of struggle, no footprints to track. Maybe just a little gold glitter here and there. No arrests are ever made, but after a few weeks the disappearances stop. But the boys are never seen again. Now picture this: It's about thirty years later. Zara, a South Carolina girl through and through, hates the cold and has no interest in living in a small backwoods town. But her stepfather has recently died, and she is so devastated by his death that her mother is afraid she's going to do something drastic and final. She needs to get her daughter away from the pain of her memories. Where can she send her? She sees no choice but to send Zara to live with her stepgrandmother up in Maine, to the same town where all those boys disappeared so long ago. To a town where boys are disappearing again.

Zara arrives in Maine depressed and angry. She also thinks she might be going a little crazy. She keeps seeing this guy everywhere she goes: in the airport when she left home, in the airport when she got to Maine, on the road on her way to her grandmother's. Who is this guy? What does he want from her?

Zara goes to school depressed, angry, and scared. A kid in a fancy car almost smashes into her in the parking lot. Sparks fly. He's Nick. He's hot. He's bad. Need I say what happens next?

Of course, there's another rival for Zara's affections, as well as new friends. There are also secrets and danger. A lot of both, in fact. Because that mysterious guy Zara keeps seeing? He isn't good news. Pixies tend not to be. Especially pixies who kidnap young boys and have plans for Zara.

Unlike some other heroines of recent supernatural-themed books, Zara is not the type to sit around and be babied. True, she's a pacifist and quite familiar with various phobias, but she's also feisty and angry, and she's not about to be bullied around, whether it's by Nick, Luke, or a pixie. Whatever the pixie king wants, pacifist or not, he's not going to get it without a fight.

Musings, leaning towards a rant:

I was prepared to like Need a lot, based on what I'd heard about it. And I thought I did like it. It was, for the most part, an enjoyable read. But every time I think about it now that I've finished it, I find myself getting more and more frustrated with it, because I think an interesting premise and likable characters were compromised by poor logic and unbelievable character actions.

I'm a librarian. I use the Internet every day to find information. Google is my friend, but it's not a miracle worker. No way do they have enough information to plug into Google and find the answer to who/what is stalking Zara. I know that sounds like a petty complaint, and maybe a lot of people wouldn't even notice, but it took me right out of the book.

I had a hard time believing the sequence of events. Wouldn't you think that when boys started to disappear again, the people who had inside knowledge of what had happened thirty years ago would realize what's probably happening again? Wouldn't you think that the
werefolk (highlight to see the missing word) who battled the pixies before would give their kids the training and information they need to battle them again, instead of letting them figure it all out themselves? Isn't that the logical thing? Then why doesn't it happen? This whole aspect of the book (the werefolk ) felt strangely incomplete and underdeveloped.

Last, but hardly least, and trying not to say too much: Zara's mother sending her back to Maine in this situation? Not buying it.

Read this one for the fun of it, but turn down the volume on your inner critical reader first.

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