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Raven Duet #1

Trickster's Girl

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In the year 2098 America isn't so different from the USA of today. But, in a post-9/11 security-obssessed world, "secured" doesn't just refer to borders between countries, it also refer to borders between states. Teenagers still think they know everything, but there is no cure for cancer, as Kelsa knows first-hand from watching her father die.

The night Kelsa buries her father, a boy appears. He claims magic is responsible for the health of Earth, but human damage disrupts its flow. The planet is dying.

Kelsa has the powers to reverse the damage, but first she must accept that magic exists and see beyond her own pain in order to heal the planet.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published December 22, 2010

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About the author

Hilari Bell

92 books618 followers
As far as writing is concerned, I call myself the poster child for persistence. Songs of Power, the first novel I sold, was the 5th novel I'd written. When it sold I was working on novel #13. The next to sell, Navohar, was #12, and the next, A Matter of Profit, was #9. The Goblin Wood was #6, and the first Sorahb book, Flame (later renamed Farsala: Fall of a Kingdom), will be #15. You get the picture.

My reviews: Mea culpa! I got onto Goodreads years ago, and haven't been reviewing--but I now mean to start! I should add that as writer, I tend to read a bit more critically. Or at least, when I think a book is going off the rails I usually see technical, writer problems with it. In short, any time a book stops working for me, that author becomes an honorary member of my writing critique group--whether they want to or not! So I apologize in advance for any technical critiques my fellow writers may recieve.

Biography: My personal life? I was born in Denver in 1958—you can do the math. I'm single and live with my mother, brother and sister-in-law. I used to be a part time reference librarian for a mid-sized public library, but in the beginning of ’05 I achieved a writer’s dream and quit the day job. Librarian turned writer is a very schizophrenic state—when I try to urge people to buy my books, I have to beat down a lifetime of professional reflexes demanding that I tell them to check them out at the library instead.

I enjoy board gaming and fantasy gaming, both table top and live. But my favorite thing to do is the decadent version of camping my mom and I practice. We have a pop-up trailer with a fridge, a sink, a stove and (if electrical hookups are available) a space heater, heating pads and a toaster. Our motto is "No unnecessary work." We don't cook, we don't wash dishes, we don't...you name it. What we do is spend all day, every day, reading and hiking and reading some more. Camping is the only time I can get in enough reading. Well, I take that back—when it comes to reading, there's no such thing as enough.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 178 reviews
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
December 21, 2010
Trickster's Girl sounded like a promising story and I was excited to read this one, but for some reason I had a really hard time getting in to it.
While the wiring is good, the pacing is off and the characters felt flat and uninteresting. I did like some of the banter and liked the magic and shape-shifting bits, but it wasn't enough to fully enjoy this nor even finish it.
Sadly, this one isn't for me.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews710 followers
December 9, 2010
Is this supposed to be YA dystopian?

It starts out with Kelsa doing the brave thing with her burying her father the way he would have wanted it and not according to what he called "the great irrational." But, it goes downhill from there because she starts getting really reactive with all those "I'm telling the teachers and/or police!" and all because she thought boy/raven was stalking her, (OK, so may be she was justified in her behavior… still she could have been more proactive.)

Well that’s how I felt about the first part. Some of it was just OK. Some (most) other parts were simply annoying. So adding all those up, Trickster's Girl isn't the best book to go with. Why? In a word, it was trying too hard. Picture this: Burial (sad.) Hike (determined.)Boy (scared.)Raven(baffled.)“Huh,” not, “Wooh!” was my first reaction. Yes, I was intrigued at first but soon became frustrated by how the story progressed.

Kelsa’s father has just died. She’s grieving and angry, most especialy at her mother. This anger leads her to make a very strange decision: Help a strange boy save the Leys by searching for nexus etc. It starts out OK, but progresses a little too clumsily for my taste. Too many things going on, and very little bridge building.


Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,275 reviews280 followers
September 10, 2020
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📗 Although this is classed as a Sci-Fi novel I felt it was closer to Fantasy, as I recognised many Fantasy elements in the story and it reads like a Fantasy novel, despite being set in the future.

📕 I really enjoyed this story, especially the suspenseful moments but I was disappointed with the ending. I felt it was rather rushed and not the ending I was hoping for, I loved Kelsa and Raven, so I was hoping to see a relationship blossom.
Profile Image for TinaB.
530 reviews134 followers
June 27, 2015
Uh-oh....could it be yet another book about global warming? Another book about evil Americans? Why yes kids, another you're a POS American book!! Whew-hew!!

Kelsa's journey begins shortly after the burial of her father, who with Kelsa shared a love of the outdoors and wilderness. As a scientist he was always teaching Kelsa about the earth and the healing of the trees due to everything being crusty and dead after a terrorist attack on the rain forests.

While the country tries to heal itself a normal democracy quickly turns dictatorship and the world Kelsa lives in has a very "big brother" feel, things are the same, people still have everything they need: food, shelter and transportation but security is obsessive. Borders into country's and states are controlled, buying items are controlled, everything is secured, monitored and no one gets away with owning guns. Pretty much nobody does anything without the big G's permission.

On a night after Kelsa sneaks out to bury her fathers ashes in the ground, Raven a young man who just appears, starts following her everywhere she goes. Is this boy nuts when he tells Kelsa she has a magic power to heal the earth.... is he just a crazy stalker who happens to have the ability to transform into a real Raven....or is he the trickster of Native myth? Before Kelsa knows it, she is plunged into a cross-country adventure with a shape-shifting man and a countless number of enemies on her trail.


I thought the author did a good job pointing out how as humans we should be good stewards of the earth.

I liked that Kelsa was smart, and through grief finds strength to heal herself and heal the earth.


The ending, it went against the mythology of the story. The events that take place are opposite of who Kelsa was and I thought it just didn't fit, seeing how Raven was specific about the whole healing process and Kelsa does exactly what Raven said couldn't be done...I get it he's the trickster but it still left lots of questions and an open-ended ending. And lets not forget the true meaning behind this story...(evil America)

Greedy, resource sucking Americans......and frankly Im pretty sick and tired of being referred to as an evil American because I drive a car.

I thought the environmental push was stereotypical and annoying.

Overall: Middle finger to this book.
Profile Image for Precious.
273 reviews32 followers
January 6, 2011
See full review here.

This is really 3.5 stars!

Kelsa was dealing with her father’s demise and the wall between her and her mother. She was a little angry, a little annoyed and a whole lot bothered with a gorgeous stalker who witnessed her bury her father’s ashes. She was a smart girl so I was startled when she handled and approached her ‘stalker’ on her own. But I also get her point, after her father’s death, her mother has been going through a lot. She did not want to add to that. At age 15, she was young, too young to be thinking of world-saving issues and carrying it on her shoulders. But in Trickster’s Girl, that was exactly what happened – Kelsa carried the responsibility of saving her world through magical leys, learning to trust a total stranger and risking her life in the process.

Raven, the trickster, was incapable of understanding human emotions. This made him seem insensitive, cold and uncaring. But then how could he ever understand feelings? He was not human. He was a shapeshifter who lived in a parallel world, focused on accomplishing one thing alone: recruiting and guiding a human to heal the leys – an important part of his and Kelsa’s world.

Together, they journeyed to Alaska, stopping by at different points to heal the leys. This book was just that – a journey. They encountered obstacles along the way, drug dealing bikers, shapeshifting enemies and border guards. It was a race for their lives and their future. Throughout the novel, I felt surprise, awe, worry and suspense. I was so focused on the magical journey that I almost took for granted the other part of the story. This was Kelsa’s journey on sacrificing, doing what she could do, trying her best to make a difference and above all, accepting facts. Everything happens for a reason and everyone has a limit. It did not matter if she would or she would not get to Alaska. What mattered was that she tried and she made a difference.

There was attraction in the air and partnership too. But then, being the romance fanatic that I am, I wished there was romance between Kelsa and Raven. Unfortunately, there was not. I wanted to know more about Raven, for Kelsa to know more about him. He seemed so far away, so unreachable eventhough he sided with humanity. This could have been better if that was done. The ending was firm and just but it left me with sadness. Trickster’s Girl is a new flavor of fantasy for me, a reminder for everyone and a warning for all of us. Magic and nature collides in this one of a kind fantasy.

Profile Image for Joy (joyous reads).
1,460 reviews290 followers
February 26, 2012
This book was hard to get into. I've attempted to read this a while back and stalled. I decided to give it another go because I got an ARC of the second book.

The combination of excessive narrative did me in. I was interested in the concept - environmental crisis told through a story of magic in a futuristic setting but I am more convinced that it's the primary problem of this novel. It seem like it couldn't make up its mind. It just didn't work. The legends, magic, mixed in with PIDs and compods just felt like the plot line was suffering from an identity crisis. There was a lack of cohesiveness and harmony between the two components of the story.

Like I said, it was interesting enough. I liked the concept of a dying world, being killed slowly by a combination of magic and some sort of bacteria and what was involved to cure it. But ultimately, the characters' inability to appear...um interesting and animated killed it for me.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,928 reviews1,168 followers
May 15, 2013
I like this book, I want to give it four stars, but eventually decided 3.5 stars would be more suitable.

I'm glad to see authors trying something new instead of writing about vampires, witches, werewolves and freaking evil LOVE TRIANGLES over, and over, and over, and over.

This time Hilari Bell really did come up with refreshing ideas. Her uses of mythology and mythical figures are respectful. And for goodness' sake the main girl didn't fall hand over heel in love with the boy because he's so freaking beautiful. Plus, the ending is refreshing as well.

What more can I ask for, really?

Bell's view of the supernatural worlds is a bit similar with the world in a Japanese manga: Mushishi: both series deal with the relationship between humans and Mother Nature a lot, both mention a magical/supernatural force that flows through the planet and how ordinary humans aren't able to sense this force. Magic is mentioned in both series but magic isn't some Harry Potter style of fancy tricks, instead it's more like forces of nature beyond humans' control.

If you were a fan of hiking and camping and if you enjoyed experiencing the beauty of the great outdoor, you will like this book. If not, I afraid that you will find this book a bit lacking in action scenes and events.

And I also found it a bit difficult to believe that a 15 years old girl would go on a quest with a stranger she barely knew so easily. I expected to see more mental struggle from her, but the author didn't offer us quite much.

It's a good start for a series, but there're many rooms for improvement, too.
Profile Image for Jamie.
58 reviews6 followers
July 10, 2010
I was really looking forward to this book. Based on the synopsis it sounded right up my alley. Based on reviews on other sites, it sounded great. I was WRONG. This book was such a disappointment I actually considered not reviewing it at all. The beginning was terribly slow and dull, but I stuck with it - hoping it would get better. Once action finally occurred, it made little sense and seemed to go against the basic rules of the author's world building. Then it got boring again. That was when I said, nope, I'm not going to review a book that I feel so... well... meh... about.

Then I reached the ending.

And I got angry. Angry that the author wasted my time for a novel she didn't even see fit to give a proper ending. It seemed like she just couldn't figured out how to undo the mess she had made or she just got sick of writing such a boring book, and said "Hey, that would be an easy fix." The End. WTH?!?!

So, rather than allow someone else to waste their time on a book based on a decent synopsis and a few good reviews, I'm telling how I really and truly feel about this book. If there was a rating of less than 1 star, this would get it.

If you look at my past reviews, you'll see that I typically like what I read. This review is an oddity for me, but one I feel is very well deserved.

I received an e-galley of this book for review from the publisher.
Profile Image for Shari.
434 reviews15 followers
March 30, 2011
Trickster's Girl isn't just a story, it sends a message as well. Granted it's a message we've been receiving from all over lately: we are killing our Earth. In this story human's have once again created something that is killing the Earth. A mysterious boy named Raven comes to Kelsa and claims he wants to help her save the trees. Raven does want to help her but he definitely has his own agenda as well. While this book has some action scenes that were a bit tense and exciting I'm afraid that the book's story didn't stick with me as much as I would have liked, and at moments it was a little to easy to put down. I did enjoy Kelsa's character, she is brave and adventurous and I really enjoyed reading about her journey. The healing process that she was able to experience on a personal level while she was healing the planet was interesting to read. I was kind of expecting a dystopic, romantic storyline when I picked this up and it didn't really live up to that expectation at all. There is no romance and even though this novel is set in 2098 this really isn't a dystopic world it's more like there are some technological upgrades. I would recommend this to the younger, young adult readers the most.
Profile Image for Jessica B.
269 reviews
January 4, 2012
From shutupimreading.blogspot.com

Sadly, I felt kind of indifferent about Trickster's Girl.

It started out pretty strongly, and I liked the environmental message a lot. Sadly, though, I became bored a little more than halfway through and from there I just didn't really care that much anymore

But I didn't really not like it, either. As I said, I felt almost indifferent towards it. The characters were decent. That's it. Decent. I was intrigued by Raven, Kelsa's magical mentor, and I would've liked to get to know him better than we did. He could've been so much more than he was, I thought.

So, I guess those are pretty much my only thoughts. This review sounds kind of mean, but like I said, I didn't not like Trickster's Girl. I just I wish I'd enjoyed Trickster's Girl more, but instead it was just an average, OK read for me.

Book Report:
Plot: Not too bad. Slow moving occasionally.
Characters: Average.
Writing: Decent enough.
Ending: Rather anti-climactic, I thought, but not bad.
Kid friendly? There are a few swears, but nothing too extreme. This one's pretty safe.
Should I read it? Yeah, sure, go for it.
Overall: 3 stars
Profile Image for andrea.
116 reviews19 followers
March 11, 2011
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The story itself was good - a combination of environmental collapse and magic, in an entertaining and tough-girl way. However. It took a while to get into the book and actually care what was happening, and at the end I was rewarded for however much caring I did eventually build up for the main character by a pat ending and the promise of a sequel but not involving this character at all. Or at least that's how I read the last few pages.

It takes a while, especially with fantasy and science fiction, for me to understand the new world I'm in when reading a book - the names, the places, the history and politics, and so on. While I'm in this still-learning phase, it's super easy to get irritated with other aspects of the book, particularly the writing, and tempt me to put down the book altogether. In other words, Bell's writing in the first thirty pages or so was not the best - especially her use of ellipses. It felt like every other paragraph had an ellipse... ugh.

I did like a lot though the idea of ley lines and how they can be cured. I liked the travelogue aspect of the book, not being very familiar with the Pacifica Northwest or Western Canada. Raven was an interesting character and even though the descriptions of his handsomeness wore thin towards the end and always made me think, ahhh she can't help it, she's totally going to have them hook up, I was convinced by the end that he wasn't human, wasn't interested like most teenage boys in girls, and really just wanted to fix the situation in his world.

Also, the main character Kelsa really started to bother me by the end of the book. The relationship between her and her mom was complicated and very real-seeming, but at the end, Kelsea was all, "I was ready to listen [to her mom,]" and I could not understand WHY. What had changed? Show me, don't tell me - as the old old saying goes.

I'll keep an eye out for more by this author, particularly any sequel to this book, but I won't hold my breath that it'll be more than a quick fun but ultimately forgettable read.

eta: Traitor's Son is the second book, planned to be released at the end of 2011 it seems.
Profile Image for Deborah Andreasen.
Author 2 books401 followers
August 23, 2011
Nearly a century after 9/11, the world has become security obsessed. A chemical weapon was released in South America and destroyed the Amazon. Now it’s creeping north. The earth is dying, and Kelsa can feel it.

But earth is not the only thing slipping away. Kelsa watches cancer slowly and painfully kill her father, and she’s helpless to do anything to stop it. The night she secretly buries her father’s ashes, a boy appears and starts talking about magic.

Sure that he’s crazy, Kelsa eludes him for days, but soon his reason speaks to her heart more than her mind.

She follows Raven, the handsome shape shifting boy, across North America, trying to heal the damage humans have caused. But is it enough? And not all shape shifters are on their side. With the threat of security breaches and evil shape shifters coming from every side, Kelsa must use all her wits and all of Raven’s magic to survive long enough to heal the world.


You know, I haven’t read too many positive reviews about this book, so I was a little determined not to like it. Fortunately for me, Trickster’s Girl proved to be worth my time. I finished it in one day because I was so wrapped up in the story. There were a few times where I literally had to tell myself to calm down because the book was pretty intense.

Kelsa has an amazing determination to right what all of humankind has ruined. Raven has a frustrating resistance to accept humanity. He’s just using them to heal the world. But hey, at least he’s doing the right thing. Right?

I also liked the hint of romance between Kelsa and Raven, even though it never blossoms. I think they both recognize the attraction, but both are sensible enough to realize how ridiculous the idea of a relationship would be.

I’m happy to know that this is only the first in a series, but I’m sad to think this is the end of Kelsa’s part in the Raven journey.

With all the “healing the world” talk, you would think this is a pro-green, tree-hugger type book. But it’s not. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with political views or carbon footprint warnings.
Profile Image for Tara.
48 reviews82 followers
March 17, 2011
I was expecting more of a dystopian when I read this novel, It seemed to have been marketed more in that genre than in paranormal. This book dealt in a different type of paranormal...Native American Mythologoy. I have never read a book dealing with that subject matter before, so hearing something completely new, .not the same old...ghosts.... or seeing the dead... or something along those lines was very refreshing. The author showed a lot of creativity with her original plot and characters.

I really enjoyed the settings of the book. The The two characters travel through some beautiful scenery (most of the book is spent on a road-trip) through Forests, National Parks and up to the Glaciers. I could clearly picture everything and the author executed that beautifully.

The magic and Kelsa's "connection with the earth" seemed a little....off to me. I was shocked that she was able to communicate with the earth on her very first try. It didn't really seem believable to me, and it should have been harder than that.

I didn't enjoy the language..."CARP" instead of "crap" just sounded a little funny, even though the author did explain the reason behind changing the swear words. It didn't really have the same effect. It was kind of like saying "Darn" instead of "Damn". It didn't really portray the emphasis properly.

I kind of enjoyed this book, but I kind of didn't too. It took me awhile to finish it. I didn't love it or hate it. It just was an average YA read. However, the stories original premise definitely sticks out in my mind.

Judge a Book By It's Cover: I like the shadow of the Raven, but I feel like the cover should be much more colorful, since this book takes place mostly outdoors and deals heavily in nature.

3 Stars!

*Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader Copy courtesy of Houghton Mifflin and NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The links in this reviews are not affiliate links.
854 reviews45 followers
June 28, 2010
Trickster's Girl was unlike anything I've ever read before. The story is set in the United States, in the future. The futuristic setting with the accompanying electronics reminded me of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. I enjoy reading stories set in the future. The story is heavy on dialogue, which I'm not a fan of. There is; however, a lot of descriptive narration about nature: Kelsa and Raven are traveling across the northern US to heal the ley lines and reverse the damage a tree plague has caused around the world. This story did not end how I predicted it would---but that was a good thing. I love to be surprised!

Trickster's Girl is heavy into action, nature, and magic. Kelsa is running for her life for a lot of the book, which makes the story move quickly. Readers looking for a typical YA love story will be disappointed. This was a good read, but not one of my personal favorites. Fans of the Uglies series, The Hunger Games, and the Harry Potter series will like this one. I will definitely read more by Hilari Bell in the future.

Just One Gripe:
The ending was not in line with Kelsa's true nature, in my opinion.

The Best Thing About This Book:
I liked the way Bell does not conform to the typical YA plot.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 3/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 2/5
Total Score: 15/25; 3 stars
Profile Image for Parajunkee.
405 reviews196 followers
November 15, 2010

Featured on Parajunkee.com

Trying to jump "Out The Box" in YA might not have worked well in Trickster's Girl's favor. While I did read, Trickster's Girl to the end, I seriously contemplated just hitting delete on numerous occasions. I think reading this on vacation gave me more patience than I normally have - especially for netgally.com books. The book did stimulate a sense of suspense and climatic "chase" situations but overall it fell flat and irksome.


Profile Image for Bonnie (A Backwards Story).
416 reviews224 followers
March 12, 2011
The reviews for Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell are all over the place. Personally, I enjoyed it. I thought Bell had a unique take on a Dystopian world that could very well become our future. She blended our fears about terrorists and new security guidelines with the fact that humans are slowly killing our planet. Throw in the awesome mythological Trickster and hints of Native American folklore and Trickster’s Girl becomes something utterly unique.

The novel takes place about a hundred years after 9/11 and the world has become obsessed with security. On top of secure border checkpoints between countries, the USA also has border patrols between each state. To travel from state to state, citizens need special ID cards that are coded with their own DNA, making them impossible to forge. If going to another country, however, a special pass needs to be issued from the government. The USA seems to be more uptight than other countries. Take Canada, for example. Despite the border between the countries, state borders aren’t manned and people are freer to move about. While there is a lot of futuristic lingo thrown about, it’s described so naturally, it doesn’t feel like we’re being slammed with a wealth of new information. You can see this technology, can imagine it, can envision it in our own world. I never struggled to find a mental image of what was being described the way I have with other futuristic books full of new technology. I truly appreciated the way Bell spread this information over the course of the book instead of throwing it at us all at once.

Trickster’s Girl begins at a funeral. A teenager named Kelsa is mourning the loss of her father, who lost the fight against cancer. In this futuristic world, you can “rent” a resting place for your urn for about sixty years. Kelsa swaps out her father’s ashes for a mixture of flour, ashes, and some of her father’s beloved fishing tackle (to add weight) so that no one would notice the difference. She slips away from home at night after everyone is asleep and goes to the special place she’s always come with her dad to bury him beneath a cottonwood tree. Trees play an important part in this world. Bioterrorists have created a bioplague that has killed much of the South American rain forest and has made its way up to Mexico. If it can’t be stopped, the United States and Canada are next. Kelsa’s father went down to research the bioplague and contracted cancer soon after. Kelsa thinks the two events might be related.

After burying her father, Kelsa meets Raven, a strange boy who says he’s been looking for her. She thinks he’s dangerous, freaks out, and runs away. She begins seeing him everywhere and thinks he’s stalking her. It takes a while for him to convince her that he is the human form of Raven, the Native American form of the trickster spirit. He states that humans have been destroying their planet to an extent that its affecting the spirit world. Some of the spirits want the humans to clean up their own mess and save the planet while others want them to die off so that the world can begin anew. The way this concept is described reminds me of the movie Spirited Away (which I love), so it was easy to envision. The only way to begin saving the world is to travel to various nexus power spots and heal the leys in the earth. Only Kelsa can do this; spirits are unable to fix what humans broke. Many spirits are angry at the quest Kelsa and Raven embark on and the duo suddenly find themselves being hunted down.

The book is the first of two: The Raven Duet will conclude in 2012 with the release of Traitor’s Son. The end of the first book does have a lot of loose threads left hanging, which is one reason many people dislike the book. To me, it feels more like Bell split her novel into two chunks. We get half now and the rest next year, sort of like how The Lord of the Rings is really one book in three chunks. The other thing that frustrated readers was the lack of romance, but Bell has promised that there will be some in the second novel. The fact that Kelsa kept reflecting on Raven’s physical attributes but nothing happened made sense to me. Raven is very much a deity. Kelsa’s doing what he asks of her, but deep down, I think she’s afraid of him, especially because she knows he has his own agenda and is only using her to better his own world. For me, their relationship worked. I’ll be interested in seeing how Bell weaves the rest of the story together and ties everything up next year.

One last thing I wanted to point out to all of you is the fun chapter headings inside. Are you ready? [For images, please visit: http://abackwardsstory.blogspot.com] They’re inside a raven! How symbolic is that? Plus, Raven transforms into his namesake a few times, so it’s like you’re looking at the Trickster himself come the start of each new chapter. I also love the way the cover of the book uses mauve and white--and no other color. At first, I didn't think much of the cover, but the more I look at it, the more I fall in love with it. It's one of those images where you discover more things every time you look at it. On first glance, it's just a girl, right? But if you look really carefully, you'll see that the mauve making up her hair is also the wingspan of a raven and his head curves into the shadow of her eyes. There are also two other shades of mauve beneath the first to add dimension and each one repeats the head and wings pattern. Not only that, the image continues into the spine and onto the back cover, so when you look at the back cover, you see the raven's tail. The image also continues into the front inside cover flap when you flip it out, and while on first glance it's fly away hair, if you just look at the flap, it's a raven's head/beak and wings. Here's a look at the cover unfolded. Sorry for the lightning--it's dark and rainy this morning, so the light is kind of sucky for taking pictures and I'm too lazy to hook up my scanner. ^^;

Profile Image for Ria Bridges.
589 reviews5 followers
June 21, 2020
If there’s any problem to be found in throwing the reader into a world that’s very similar and yet slightly different to this one, it’s that sometimes the authors writes as though the reader is going to know all those subtle differences and won’t be lost when making references to customs or technology that doesn’t exist here. That was my thought when I first started reading Trickster’s Girl, and though that sentiment was a mild one, it was still present in the back of my mind.

Then we get to meet Raven, and the story really takes off.

In following Kelsa’s adventures of running away from home and trying to save the planet, we get to be wrapped up in a story that’s much bigger than the piece that we’re being shown in the novel. The planet is dying because humans messed up in monumental ways, and unfortunately the slow-fix solution of trying to be more eco-conscious just won’t cut it anymore. Things have to start healing right away, and fast, or else things will start going to pot.

The environmental message was presented a bit heavy-handedly sometimes, but since it’s a message I can get behind, I didn’t mind that too much. For some readers, though, the kind who sit on the fence regarding environmental activism or those who don’t think much about it one way or the other, might find some of Raven’s lectures about it rather tiresome.

I can easily see why some people wouldn’t like the ending to the book, or think that it was a poorly done way of setting things up for a sequel. I disagree. From the beginning it was established that this mission is something that Kelsa can’t do alone, that must be done by people all over the world, and what we see at the end isn’t so much a set-up for another part of the series or a cop-out ending because the author couldn’t think of how to have the planet be healed convincingly. No, what we see is merely Kelsa’s part in the mission come to an end. The torch has been passed on, and now it’s time for somebody else to do what she bravely admitted she could not. It was actually refreshing to see a book that had an open ending and yet still tied up all the loose ends that it could.

(Though from what I hear, there will be another book attached to this one. That doesn’t diminish what I said above, though.)

This is a definite recommend to YA fantasy/sci-fi fans, and to those who enjoy a good normal-person-saves-the-world tale.

Hilari Bell has a lot going for her as an author, and really knows how to weave a story with the right amount of little details that make the world so believable. I can’t wait to see what she’ll write next!

(Book received in exchange for an honest review.)
214 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2020
Thoroughly meh. There's nothing really wrong with Trickster's Girl - the plot hits most of its beats, although the pacing is slow. But I found two main flaws with the novel:

1) Kelsa, the protagonist, isn't a compelling character. She's a grief-stricken, angsty teenage girl who is willing to put herself into increasing absurd and dangerous situations, mainly because she's mad at her mother over her father's death. She isn't engaging for the reader. We're rooting for her simply because she's the PoV character and because no-one wants a young girl to get hurt just because she's being foolish. But there's no reason for the reader to be invested in her inner journey.

2) Raven, the current incarnation of a supernatural spirit, also isn't interesting. In fact, the book gets Raven completely wrong. The book treats him as a sub-protagonist, working earnestly to try and rescue multiple worlds. The reader never has any reason to doubt Raven's sincerity or goals. But that isn't the Trickster- we should always be wondering if/when/why Raven is telling the truth, and what his is really after.

I guess this is part of a series, but I won't be reading further.
3 reviews
October 28, 2018
"Trickster's Girl" is a dystopian story about the future, in the year 2098 America isn't so different from the USA of today. Kelsa is a teenage girl who is dealing with the crushing loss of her father. Even though the setting is in the high-tech future with com pods, hovercraft-like vehicles and temperature-controlled clothing, theree was still no cure for cancer, but that's not what Kelas thought. Kelsa's father taught her to enjoy and respect the outdoors while enjoying its challenges and beauty. Now that he is gone, Kelsa feels lost and alone. As she is burying her father’s ashes, she meets a boy who will change her future. I gave this book a 5 star rating because I enjoy dystopian stories mostly about the future and "trickster's girl" had it all!
Profile Image for Katherine.
46 reviews
January 20, 2022
Quite possibly the tropiest YA novel I have ever read. It hits all the usual checkboxes, without providing enough depth to be interesting in its own right.

A teen heroine recovering from family tragedy? Check.
Captain-Planet styled lectures on the importance of preserving the earth? Check.
Guns bad? Check.
Humans bad? Check.
Stereotypical racial profiling ("that boy looks Native American and is therefore biologically inclined toward attunements with nature!")? Check.
Smug male pseudo-love-interest? Only a half check, since the romance is practically non-existent.

It's a quick read, so if you're in the mood for some 90s Captain Planet nostalgia, it might not be bad, but definitely not recommended on the merits of the plot.
Profile Image for Nicole.
1,056 reviews7 followers
April 7, 2021
I really enjoyed this book. The worldbuilding was super cool. I liked how different it came across, while also managing to feel similar to the traditional. The plot was interesting and mixes in a lot of neat details. The book's descriptions does justice to a lot of amazing places and is able to portray the vivid feelings of how breathtaking they are. It was quite fun at times.

I loved the environmentalism and the hope that we can make it better that makes up the core themes. The end was poignant and the theme of how it's up to humanity as a whole, not one person, to fix things was really power.

I loled at the Canada jokes about our systems being less complicated.
186 reviews2 followers
August 14, 2020
3.5 stars.
So many exclamations! Kelsa's a 15 yr old girl, and an exclamation point is a great way of exaggerating a sentence. Thankfully, there is only one and not more at the end. It can be annoying.
This is a good book for teens/kids that are too advanced for the kids department but too young for YA/Teen. Has some danger bit not overly so, mostly complaining about Raven and his views on humans.
It also has good talking points about grief and how it can affect your relationships and life.
Profile Image for Rachel.
6 reviews
May 18, 2018
Enjoyable read; maybe not "buy this now" but I may reread it in the future. Definitely reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Channah.
473 reviews1 follower
August 27, 2019
DNF pretty early on. I normally love Hilari Bell but I just couldn't get into it.
Profile Image for Rena McGee.
223 reviews24 followers
August 6, 2020
This is not a book review. I was not able to finish the book or even get farther than three chapters. This is because Trickster’s Girl is kind of awful. It is a “gee, why don’t I write a fantasy with a completely random non-specific hodge-podge of Native American mythology and then completely disrespect it via my heroine!” kind of book. It is a “why don’t I glom together a bunch of Native American belief systems then randomly throw in new agey ley lines!” kind of book. It is a “I have never heard of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland and therefore do not realize how badly I needed it!” kind of book.

Of course, I had my general misgivings just from the summary, which involves “the mythological creature Raven” wanting the female protagonist to help him avert some kind of ecological disaster. (Sometimes it is not fair to judge a book by its summary, because sometimes the summary is wrong or stupid. This was not the case.) My first thought was “creature?” Shouldn’t that be “being?” Also, what “mythology” are we using here? (As you may know, there is more than one “Native American” culture and therefore, more than one mythological system.)

I ran into problems within just a few pages!

--We open with a graveside funeral in which there is no body or ashes. I get the feeling this is supposed to symbolize something. Our Heroine, a girl named Kelsa, does not feel that her mother is grieving as hard as she is. She is also upset because the funeral speech is kind of canned.
--We discover that Our Heroine has somehow stolen her father’s ashes. She goes on to steal a posthole digger from a neighbor and goes off to give her father a “real” burial.
--She meets a boy her age who says weird things about having been looking for her. She immediately assumes he wants to rape her. There is very little narrative or dialog cues to explain why she would immediately assume a kid her own age is automatically a rapist or a pimp. (“Pimp” was her second suspicion. Since presumably Raven is a dark skinned boy, we can assume that Kelsa is deeply racist.)
--Boy is the stupidest Raven ever. You don’t just walk up to someone and expect them to know a) magic is real in an apparently nonmagical or “under the surface magical” environment b) who the heck you are.
--Lots and lots of stupid invented slang to avoid using actual swear words. At least it’s not “fardles.”
--I have the general feeling that the characters dialog and actions are being performed with Barbie and Ken dolls by the writer. That is to say, narrative is not fantastic when it is made of plastic.
--It turns out Raven need’s Our Heroine’s help to steal a medicine pouch from a museum. This magical medicine pouch is supposed to be the cure for an environmental disaster that is destroying all the trees. Ley lines are also involved
--Female protagonist is doing the “there must be a logical explanation for the completely illogical and impossible things happening because magic isn’t real” thing so hard it is kind of impossible to see why Raven thinks she can do anything for him.

The deal breaker however was this quote:

But the Native American *myths were clearly myths not history…In truth, the Native American spirits reminded Kelsa of the Greek gods–quarrelsome, selfish, greedy and jealous. Way too “human” for comfort, if you forced to admit they might not only exist but but really have some kind of supernatural power.

Yes, let’s make generalized, sweeping and judgmental statements about cultures/*mythological systems you actually know nothing about.

*Dear everyone, “myth” does not actually mean false. Myths are stories that explain the cosmological framework of a belief system/culture. When I use the word “myth” that is in fact what I mean.

Parts of this unreview were previously posted elsewhere.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stephany.
12 reviews8 followers
January 6, 2011
When I first began reading, I was immediately drawn in by the writing-style. Straight forward, then throwing in a phrase of sarcasm that either adds to the mood or contradicts the mood--contradicting the mood being slightly cooler than adding to the mood. The beginning describes the funeral of Kelsa's father, and the strain on the relationship between Kelsa and her mother is introduced. I felt the feelings of Kelsa were very real, especially her feelings toward her mom. The future world that Kelsa lives in is also described, and it had the slightest feel of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.

When I first met Raven, I thought he was really strange. He continuously asked Kelsa, "Are you ready to believe in magic yet?" And just how he randomly appeared near her--like in the tree outside her bedroom window...naked. It was freaky. Then, suddenly, while Kelsa is at school, he appears and asks again: "Are you ready to believe in magic yet?" Somehow in my mind, it was the sexiest thing my mind has ever come up with (exaggeration, but the idea is there). From then on, I loved Raven. He was arrogant, sarcastic yet polite and proper, and sort of filled the void of casualness that Kelsa had left behind when her dad died.

I must say I was surprised that the magic we were talking about was Native American based. Raven is the "trickster" spirit who needs Kelsa to fix the "tree disease" that is slowly spreading toward the United States; hence: Trickster's Girl. I was so excited when I figured out the meaning of the title. Seriously, it made me like it ten times more. I also noticed that the shadows on the left side of the girl's face were ravens. Made me like the cover ten times more.

And although the Native American-ness was pretty unique and sort of made sense, the magic part seemed...not-so-magic. Needing to come up with a chant, then sprinkling dust on the ground? I felt embarrassed for Kelsa every time she had to do it. And although she continually said that she didn't feel so awkward, that it almost seemed natural, those were not the vibes I was picking up.

I also felt slightly disconnected from the story. It is told third-person limited from Kelsa's point of view, but despite it being from her point of view, I felt like I didn't really know her. There wasn't as much thoughts written out as I would have liked; heavy action made up most of the description, and small blurbs of what she thinks occasionally. Maybe I would've felt closer if it had been first person.

When the description mentions 9/11, I thought maybe there would be some major reason why 9/11 is specifically said. I don't think there was, though. The ideas of the way society works in Kelsa's world was pretty interesting, although some parts weren't completely explained until later on in the book when Raven asks about it. The different new inventions were also not explained as well as I would have liked. I was just waiting for one chapter where I would get caught up to this world, given a mini history lesson of just how different it was from today, but I never got that. No history lesson added to my feeling of detachment from the story.

Overall, I did like this book. Kelsa was a bit whiny in the beginning, but as the story continued she became less so. I grew to love Raven more and more and wished there had been some scenes where Raven and Kelsa really connected, and maybe hinted feelings for one another. Most of their conversations were all about their mission or inquiring the newness of Kelsa's time. The descriptions of the action scenes were very well done. I'm looking forward to more of Hilari Bell's writing.
Profile Image for Karina.
59 reviews41 followers
March 26, 2011
Sadly, this book did not live up to the expectations I had for it.

It's actually a bit of a contradiction. Labeled as a science-fiction book but it has magical elements to it.

Kelsa, story protagonist, is a fifteen year old girl whose dad has just died of cancer. Her mother is in morning, her little brother Joby seems oblivious to everything and the tension between the two is impermeable. There seems to be this unexplainable anger between the two. Well, actually it is explainable, but there is no reason why there had to be so many pages on how Kelsa was ignoring her mother, how upset she was at her, how she would never forgive her. I do not actually believe their relationship played a big part in this book.

Then you meet the mysterious boy who just showed up, claiming magic is going to help heal the dying earth. This intrigues the reader, but there's nothing much to be intrigued about. He's not actually human. I actually commend Hilari Bell on her ability to make Raven seem oblivious to human nature, showing how in-human he is. By the end of the book, I was about as un-affectionate for him as he was for humans.

This book is supposed to take place in the future, 2098 to be exact. But I never actually felt that there was anything futuristic about it. It's exactly as the summary says, there is nothing diffrent about the United States then as it is now. I never go the feeling that the tough security was because of the 9/11 incident. Only when Kelsa was going on about how her therma-suite wasn't working, or that slight mention on how cars hovered did I remember this took place in the future. The pod-coms seem to be round iPhones, and the PIDs remind me of the French S.S. Vitale cards (both care around your personal information, like a credit card, with your picture.)

I do like how the book had mentions about Native American legends though. I wish it was something that Ms. Bell would have gotten more into, instead of how Raven said tarnation. There was one mention on how the Trickster part of the title played in. It got about half a page, and then it wasn't really brought up again.

Which brings me to another peeve. Instead of actually swearing, therefore making this book readable to younger children, the author just changed the vowles of those words and made them swear words, some invention made in the future. Example would be how we do it with ship and frick. (Actually, that's how we do it here in this small mid-western town. I can't speak for the rest of the dirty mouthed people :D )

I liked the idea of the story though. It's something I haven't read yet, so I was intrugied by how magic was going to save the trees. The idea that there are certain healing spots is just something I've never read about, so cuddos for the orginality. I could see the take-care-of-the-Earth message, which usually makes them pretty bad. Not this one, though. Earth-Saving was not the reason I did not like this book.

Also, this is a more biased comment, but there was no real relationship between Raven and Kelsa! It's over two hundred pages of a boy and a girl out on an adventure, alone and well seeing as it's marketed along books ceratin books makes me think there's going to be some sort of a relationship. Alas, there was nothing more than a semi-friendship and a lot of tolerance.

Yet, I'm sure this book is going to do well. With its descprition of Raven being this totally hot guy and Kelsa being an innocent young girl who manages to move on from her father's death by saving the world, there will be many readers who will fawn over Hilari Bell's newest book, Trickster's Girl.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cornerofmadness.
1,629 reviews10 followers
August 8, 2012
This book was a solid four stars until the ending. Sigh. I loved the idea of this book (which since it’s book one of the Raven Duet, I’m assuming there’ll be a second book from the get go). I love Raven (Coyote, Iktomi, Rabbit and whatever other names the Trickster goes under) and a book about Raven trying to help save the world sounded irresistible.

Kelsa is a young girl in mourning. In spite of her high tech, high security world (i.e. our world about a hundred years into the future), they couldn’t save her father from the cancer consuming him. It opens at his funeral. Kelsa and her father were very close and very ‘green.’ She shares very little with her mother. Kelsa, and the scientists are wondering if there is a connection between the bioterrorism of the ‘tree plague’ (destroying all the trees in the tropics and spreading) and the upswing in human cancer. What she knows for sure, is her father wouldn’t want his ashes locked up in an urn away from the natural cycle.

As she deals with that Kelsa meets a beautiful Native American appearing young man who startles her. He keeps reappearing, even in her locked down school always with the same plea, to help him fix the planet, to stop the tree plague and all of that. She thinks that he’s joking or crazy and that the raven that he supposedly transforms into is a trick. Finally, she sees something she can’t discount and decides to give into the crazy. She and Raven set out to heal the ley lines and heal the earth.

I was a little annoyed that they were called ley lines (as opposed to something more from a Native American mythos) but that is explained if you know anything about the leys. After stealing an ancient medicine bag that belonged to a Navajo healer, they start from Utah to Alaska healing the leys. Creepy but plausible, each state has a border check (Canada, on the other hand, once they get there is more la-di-dah about security) and ID cards contain DNA samples setting up some interesting hurdles.

However, once Kelsa begins to truly believe in Raven and his cause (pretty much once she encounters the first ley), he tells her that the leys affect multiple dimensions including his own. Most of his people believe that humans are sucky stewards for the planet (no argument) and that once these very sick leys kill all life on earth, they’ll come and fix the leys up and not have annoying humans causing ripples through many dimensions. Raven and a few others believe humans deserve a chance. However, they are a minority and the majority are ready to stop them at any costs.

I really like Raven and Kelsa. She has just the right amount of skepticism and freak out over his magical nature. She’s smart and caring and resourceful. She’s a very good teen heroine. I was very happy with this right up to the last ten pages when it went sideways. Kirkus Review called it a ‘surprise resolution.’ I called it stupid. It was an awful ending. Okay, in some ways it makes sense. It does. But in more ways, it’s dumb, it’s a bit contrived and a little bit ethnically insulting. I went from ‘can’t wait to read book 2’ to ‘I’m not sure I WILL read book 2.’ Sigh. Still, I do recommend this book. Maybe the ending won’t make you as nuts as it made me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Madigan Mirza.
476 reviews30 followers
February 14, 2011
Set nearly a hundred years in the future, Kelsa Phillips is devastated at the passing of her beloved father. Kelsa's mother seemed pretty cold about the whole thing, she must have either come to terms with his imminent death of her husband much earlier than Kelsa had, or maybe had been planning to divorce him, but didn't once his cancer was diagnosed. Kelsa resents the way her mother shunted her father off to a hospice as soon as she could. Shortly after the "official" sanctioned funeral, Kelsa holds her own ceremony, truer to what she thinks her father would have wanted, by burying his ashes in a park. That's when a boy who can transform into a raven appears to her, and tells her that she must quest with him to heal the earth's magical leys, damaged by pollution and bioterrorism. Of course, she disbelieves him at first, but after witnessing his impossible change from human to bird, she finally comes to accept that magic is real.

Most of this book is a road-trip story, as Kelsa and Raven make their way through Oregon to Canada on their way to Alaska. There's plenty of Native American mythology employed as they are chased by several enemies of Raven, including Otter Woman and a dangerous group of bikers. Kelsa thinks Raven (in his human form) is quite handsome, even though she finds his shapeshifting off-putting. There's no time for romance though, as they struggle to make their way past security checkpoints on their journey. And Kelsa, having wisely googled Raven before she set out with him, knows that he's an unreliable trickster, albeit with his heart in the right place, something which makes her even more cautious around him.

For a story set in the future, it didn't feel that futuristic to me. It could have easily been 5 years from now, not nearly 90 years. Think about how different the 1920's feel from today, and you might have an idea of what I mean. I felt like invoking 9/11 didn't make much sense either. Sure, there are some security concerns, and some bioterrorism, but I've seen other dystopian fiction take the idea of a police-state far, far further than this. As I've often mentioned before, I love a story about a young person gaining competency with their magical powers, but Kelsa's abilities seem quite subtle. Throughout most of the book, she follows Raven's directions as to when and where to perform the ceremonies that are supposed to cure the rainforests without feeling any tug of magic or special feeling herself.

Bell's invented curses also fell a little short for me. When censors tried to erase certain four-letter words, Kelsa explains that people simply changed a few letters around, which certainly sounds very plausible. However, hearing "oh, carp" as the swear-word of choice just didn't seem to pack as much punch.

I did really enjoy the sense of adventure, and the pace picked up significantly in the second half of the book. If cliffhanger endings drive you crazy though, you might do better to wait to pick this up until the second book of the duet is released. I was caught off-guard by the sudden change of gears at the end, and am curious how things will resolve. Now I can't wait for the next one!
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