the golden witch.'s Reviews > On a Dark Wing

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane
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I hate giving out negative reviews, guys, let that be said. But "On a Dark Wing" was so disappointing that I just can't keep quiet about it. Hell, I couldn't even finish it. Dane had a very interesting story with Death having a crush on a girl, but the way she went about it with the sub-arcs attached was just very...well, convoluted and so much that was in there could have been cut out and spruced up had it had another two drafts or so. Such an interesting main plot, and such a waste.

And we also have a huge case of Twilight Syndrome with our heroine, Abbey. Mainly in the fact that she's very unhealthily obsessed with her crush, to the point where I just couldn't read it anymore. She's mistaking lust with a crush, to say the very least, and she becomes everyone's whipping boy. I understand that she feels responsible for her mother's death and that maybe by letting everyone walk all over her and bully her she feels that it might suffice to make up for it, it was just too sad. So many girls feel this way - they let themselves be passive, walked on, and then we wonder why there are so many bullying-related suicides out there. She could have spoken up, but she chose not to. She could have done something, but she chose not to. In the beginning, with her sharp tongue and voice that seemed far too old for her, I thought that maybe she'd be an active heroine, kicking ass and taking names all the while trying to fend off Death and his crush on her. But no. None of that.

While I applaud Dane for addressing the bullying epidemic, she doesn't give us much of an "it gets better" or "stand up for yourself" message to take away. Then again, I've found that a lot of contemporary YA (even with that spicy subplot of PNR involved) does that. Guys, we're in the 21st century now. Gender roles have changed a whole hell of a lot in a very short time, and this book feels like the main female role trait of being passive and quiet and doing nothing (even if only out of depression and anxiety) was being enforced. We wonder why bullying suicides take place - it's because even though we teach our kids to tell someone, we also give them the double message that even if they do tell someone, nothing will ever change and they're basically screwed. Doubly so if you're not within the social mainstream of your age group. This could have been a chance to reverse that, and it wasn't taken. I've seen another review comparing this to the "Horsemen" quartet by Jackie Morse Kessler and I wanted to flip a few tables. At least Kessler empowers her heroines by making them take action, even if it's not exactly within the character's best self-interest for long-term survival. These two books/series couldn't be more different, especially because Dane does not do what Kessler does, regardless of difference in plots, arcs, and characters.

The only person Dane empowered was her best friend, wheelchair-bound and handycapable - he, at least, tried to talk about what happened with the bullying and tried to find a solution to take down the website that had all of the bullying stuff posted (even if he failed, I wanted to give a standing ovation for him trying). Why didn't our heroine do this? Why retreat into the delusion/obsession of a guy that barely knows you and probably will never return your feelings instead? Fear, anxiety, depression - all of those are acceptable answers, but Dane could have gone beyond the call of duty with Abbey and didn't. And seeing wasted potential like that in any book, especially with YA, infuriates me.

So, this just feels like yet another book in the YA PNR canon that has cases of Twilight Syndrome and another passive heroine. If that's your thing, hey, good for you, and I sincerely hope you enjoy the book - it seems like quite a few have loved this book, and I'm glad that they did. Different strokes for different folks, and all of that. I just wish Dane had done more to give a more empowering message to her readers instead of not.

(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)
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12/19/2011 page 70
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