And I did like the Great and Terrible Beauty series, which is a bit like reality with just a dash of horror and magic. Sometimes a deliciously bratty child-with-a-few magical powers can draw me in but in general, start throwing made up words at me, ask me to believe in your world building, and heap on Little Mermaid references, princesses and pretty gowns and you've lost me.
My number one discomfort? The words thing. With me, you get one a page, maybe.
Jennifer Donnelley's new book, Deep Blue, gives me more like five per paragraph.
On the first page, for example, I need to inuit what names, phrases and words like, "Suffering Circe," "La Serenissima Regina Isabella," "dokimi,""Miromara," "tube worms," "Serafina," "Sylvestre," "songspell," and "Tavia" mean.
Um, no. It's all too much.
And here's another caveat, or maybe it's just a weeping admission. I LOVE this author. This is the author that made me want to write YA fiction. A Northern Light is the book that changed my perspective on how YA can be literary, bring a sense of power to women and provide a platform to teach a bit of history. Jennifer Donnelly is my personal hero in the YA world (along with John Green, who is everyone's personal hero because - you know. Amazing.)
Oddly, there were a lot of sentence structure errors that felt like a newbie writer might make; passive voice, repeated subject/verb sentences, the whole too many made up words thing. I wondered if this had been her first novel no one wanted to buy but that she could now sell because she's established herself as a marketable author. (I have light eight of those so I can relate.) But, on her webpage, she writes about being in a bit of a writing slump after her last book. She was at an exhibition for a collection of incredible Alexander McQueen dresses which inspired a story about mermaids. Donnelly writes,
"McQueen’s collections were shown in dusky jewelbox rooms and walking through them felt like walking through a dark fairytale. In some rooms, music played. In others, the wind howled and wolves cried. And the dresses – they were so beautiful and fierce, it almost hurt to look at them. They were made of cloth and thread, but of other things, too. Of antlers and skulls. Thorns, flowers, feathers."
I only wish I felt as connected to the story itself.
And, I do see why her imagination was lit up after viewing the dresses in the McQueen exhibit.
I mean, THAT dress is a story.
I also see the audience for this. Younger YA readers may well fall in love with Donnelly's mermaid, who is more warrior princess than voiceless, sexualized Disney-child - which is always a blessing for girls who need heroines who aren't looking to give up everything they care about for a guy.
My fingers are crossed, Jennifer. This is a series and, because of A Northern Light, and to a slightly lesser extent, Revolution, I remain a loyal fan and buyer of your work. Still, I'm hoping the next book in this series puts a leash on the made up words. I mean, suffering Circe...