This book was absolutely repulsive to me. I think the only book I hated more was that steaming pile of word-vomit called The Da Vinci Code, but my hat...moreThis book was absolutely repulsive to me. I think the only book I hated more was that steaming pile of word-vomit called The Da Vinci Code, but my hatred for that is due to the fact that Dan Brown is a hack who should have his hands crippled lest he ever write again, whereas I hate She Said Yes because I find it morally repugnant. Yes, morally. And I'll tell you why: poor Cassie wasn't even cold in her grave before mommy dearest started writing this tear-jerking, heart-wrenching, surefire moneymaker. What, is cashing in on the tragic death of your teenage daughter some groundbreaking form of therapy or something? Jesus H.
The thing is, though, what bothered me most about this book was not Misty Bernall making money off a senseless tragedy that claimed so many young lives. No, what bothered me most about this book was Misty Bernall. This woman embodies everything that is wrong with Middle America. She sits pretty in her comfortable, normal, white bread middle-class life and passes judgment borne of ignorance and intolerance on anything and anyone different from her, obviously incapable of dealing with things that don't fall into normal, white bread, middle-class, cookie-cutter molds, including her daughter. When Cassie went through typical teenage rebellion and got involved with the "wrong crowd"--Goths, for chrissakes, que horror--and witchcraft (A WITCH! A WITCH! BURN HER!), Bernall didn't just do her best and let things run their course like a normal (i.e. not neurotic) parent. She unapologetically recounts how she meddled in her daughter's life, going to such lengths as to grievously violate Cassie's privacy by reading her personal correspondence and, worse, to isolate her from her friends, and yet this woman has the balls to carry on as though it's everybody's fault but her own that Cassie was so depressed and angry and alienated and hated her parents so much she talked about killing them. Un-freakin-believable.
But the worst part is that, after everything, Bernall still shows not a hint of realization that the prevalence of attitudes and behaviors like hers are partly to blame for the events that led to her daughter's death. And that, my friends, means this book is basically pointless. Since it's predicated on a lie--the purported exchange between Cassie and her killers never actually took place--without any deeper analysis of the issues underlying the Columbine incident, or even just drawing the obvious parallels, She Said Yes is little more than a rehashing of one teenage girl's not-out-of-the-ordinary struggle to fit in and the sad details of her death. It teaches nothing, and it certainly doesn't do justice to the memory of a girl cut down in her prime.(less)
Okay, I’ll admit it. Deep Wizardry made me want to be a whale. For serious.
I admire the hell out of Diane Duane--I daresay I even worship her--for the...moreOkay, I’ll admit it. Deep Wizardry made me want to be a whale. For serious.
I admire the hell out of Diane Duane--I daresay I even worship her--for the way she conveyed the experience of being a whale. There was no awkwardness at all (except in the beginning, for Nita) and nothing seemed forced or silly. It all felt perfectly natural, and comfortable, and utterly fantastic, as if I could truly imagine what it would be like to be a whale. And by the end of the book, it seemed so normal for Nita to be in whale-form that whenever she was in human-form it felt unnatural. Hell, it felt unnatural for me to be in human-form.
I’m really sad that I can’t spend my days swimming around and singing tales of glory and sorrow in whalesong and hugging other whales by brushing them with my flukes or whatever.
But that’s beside the point.
The point is that I absolutely loved Deep Wizardry, and if I had to choose, I’d have to say that I liked this better than So You Want to Be a Wizard. Duane’s style in this book is fantastic. You can definitely see a difference between DW and its predecessor, but in a good way, like she really came into her own during the interim. I absolutely adored her mixture of simplicity in places where it’s not only necessary, but achingly perfect, and lyrical elegance in others, which come together to weave a story that’s both beautiful and heartbreaking.
And Nita and Kit really came into their own, too, which is another highlight of the book. The action was not quite as fast-paced in this as in SYWBW, allowing Duane the opportunity to really flesh out Nita’s and Kit’s personalities--their strengths, their flaws, their idiosyncrasies and charming little nuances--without disrupting the flow of the story. And I loved that because this is a very powerful and touching story, on several levels, but I don’t think that it would have hit me so fully and moved me the way it did if I hadn’t felt so close to the characters. However, both Nita and Kit (who didn’t get a lot of character development in the first book) really grew on me throughout DW; I cared about them, in a way that I don’t typically care about a lot of characters, and my heart literally ached for them toward the end of the book. I felt Nita’s despair, her turmoil, she and Kit’s courage, their triumph, their joy, everything, and that made the book just that much more beautiful to me.
The only thing that I didn’t care for was that Nita’s parents turned into raving psychopaths in this book. Okay, well, maybe not psychopaths as such. But her mother was definitely annoying to nth degree, what with her raging hypochondria (was this an epidemic among women in the 1980s? I’ve noticed a trend), and her father was no better, considering he didn’t seem to even attempt to be rational about the situation. I mean, I know that some YA writers will blow situations out of proportion because that’s how their target readers see them--kids often view their parents’ decisions as being insensible, unfair, and even outrageous. But I don’t think that’s the case here, and despite being a grown-up myself, even I don’t see the logic in taking your family (plus one) to the beach for vacation, then throwing a holy fit when the kids spend so much time...*gasp*...ON THE BEACH. And how dare they go swimming! You’re not supposed to go swimming when you’re at the beach!
Oy. If I ever spawn any miniature humanoids (though I shudder at the thought), I hope I don’t end up like that.
But I can conceded that this was probably a necessary bit of ridiculousness to facilitate the Big Reveal, even though I think it could have been handled a bit better. And since Nita’s parents end up being pretty cool at the end, once they figure out that Nita and Kit are not, in fact, out doing the nasty, but just doing wizardry (and working a crazy powerful spell that once blew an entire tectonic plate and continental landmass to shit, and battling against the ultimate Big Bad, the Lone Power, who’s basically Satan except he exponentially took a level in Badass, but whatever, at least they're not having THE SEX), all is forgiven.
All in all, Deep Wizardry is absolutely beautiful, a compelling story with great action, fantastic imagery, interesting characters--especially Ed! I never thought I could adore a shark so--and a message that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. If you like fantasy, do yourself a favor and read this book.(less)