Caris's Reviews > Ariel

Ariel by Grace Tiffany
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Mar 03, 12

bookshelves: 2012, young-adult, shakespeare
Read from March 02 to 03, 2012

When I was a child, I loved to play with G.I. Joes. I loved pitting the action figures against one another and making them battle for hours. These epic battle sessions were very much a solitary activity, mainly because my younger brother was a fucking numbskull.

He played wrong. His army men could accessorize with anything, they could return from the dead, and they could fucking fly. The little asshole had no respect for physics and spat in the face of logic. His ubermensch would’ve given Nietzsche one of those hard-ons they warn about at the ends of Viagra commercials.

In many ways, Grace Tiffany is like that fucking seven-year-old ingrate I had to share a room with for a decade. She opts to use this character with all of these predefined characteristics, but decides, for some reason, to drop some lysergide in its chocolate milk. First, she changes genders. And then she injects the story with as much cross-over as she can think of, spicing up Shakespeare’s original story with ancient Greek mythos (somehow invoking both Calypso and Athena), (view spoiler), fucking Tinkerbell, and the Bermuda goddamned Triangle (in case you’ve always wondered- it’s apparently an isosceles). I’m sure these connections were intended to create that Crash-11:14-Memento-Planet-of-the-Apes WHOA feeling, but they failed to induce even a chuckle in this cynical bastard.

Why? Because of cross-contamination. You can’t just throw mythology, history, and literature into a bowl and call it vegan gumbo. The ingredients, though similar, aren’t quite right. I can’t believe that Ariel was responsible for (view spoiler) while simultaneously understanding that she jumped from a man’s head and into the work of the most famed playwright of, like, ever. It’s like starting with a nice vegetable stock and adding rice and kiwi. It makes no sense.

As it turns out, though, even my dumbass brother got something right. There’s something to be said for reimagining what is accepted as truth. Ariel is, at best, a two-dimensional character in The Tempest. He exists only to do his master’s bidding and seeks only freedom. Tiffany’s Ariel aspires to be great, she is unable to understand human feeling, and she is bitter as all hell. The man she serves is a weak, easily manipulated liar. Ariel delights in human drama and cares not for the damage she does. She is always in the moment, never concerned with love, pain, or death, merely entertainment. And that’s goddamned interesting.

However clumsily, Tiffany crafts a new vision of Ariel as a strong, yet naive, female character. She adds depth to Shakespeare’s analysis of women and makes the basic story much more accessible. Some readers will appreciate the back story and the epilogue, which frame The Tempest inside of more significant historical events. She makes the play feel like a continuous, fluid, ever-expanding work rather than a single event to be performed on a stage. And I hope that helps her sleep at night.

Because she plays wrong.
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