Dormouse's Reviews > Wish

Wish by Alexandra Bullen
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's review
Apr 13, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: ya, sff
Read in February, 2011

This book was not for me. It was not what I thought it would be -- I like young adult books. I like fantasy and wishes coming true.

I have recently read two books with girls grieving for the death of a close girl in them -- one was Among Others, in which Mor can see fairies and has lost her twin sister, one was A Love Story, Starring My Dead Best Friend in which it's the death of a best friend, not a sister. I liked both those books, and I thought another story dealing with that would appeal.

Spoilers from here on in--
But this book was not for me. The protagonist -- Ah, the synopsis says her name is Olivia -- is supposed to like books, and her sister was the fashionable one, who paid attention to clothes, and was more popular. Olivia does not mention one book she likes or enjoys or reads. Not one, until a book is brought up in a classroom setting, and then she has to be reminded that she has read it and liked it. The book is 'To The Lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf. That was a problem for me, because a)I tried to read To The Lighthouse a couple of times and got stuck. It's not a book that flows easily for me). And because b) I have read that book talked about with love and humour elsewhere, and Olivia doesn't have that, talking about the book. And she does not talk about other books, except in referring to 'unpacking her books' at some point, because she has recently moved house.

What she does do is notice what each person is wearing, in much detail. Teenagers in other books don't do this. Describing everyone by what they are wearing worked in Colin McInnes' Absolute Beginners, where the protagonist is a photographer, who pays attention to how people look by profession, and where the clothing marks the person and where they belong - their class, their age, their subculture, as well as their individual style.

In Wish, it marks who is shiny and interesting and popular, and who isn't. And at the start Olivia wears boring clothes, thus she is boring and not interesting. But then! She learns to change her style, and wear more interesting clothes, and that lets her be popular and interesting. I am over-simplifying.

Mostly what I did not like about this book was the ~theme? overall message?~ That being popular is important, that belonging to the popular crowd at school is something important, something to aspire to. Something that helps our protagonist , it's better and more important than simply making friends with people who like to read, who might like her for herself. In 'Buffy' episode one, I felt sad and worried when she rejected the friendship of Cordelia, and the instant acceptance to the popular crowd: I thought it was important. But Buffy doesn't need to be popular , she just needs friends who are with her and recognise what's important to her, and support her. Here, being part of the popular group is the aim, not just making friends.

I did like the romance, I could see the appeal of the boy and I could see him liking the girl. That did work. Just the rest didn't.
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