Nataliya's Reviews > The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own M... by Catherynne M. Valente
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really liked it
bookshelves: awesome-kickass-heroines, 2012-reads, for-my-future-hypothetical-daughter, locus-winner, first-in-a-series, valente-whimsical-magic, location-is-the-true-protagonist
Recommended to Nataliya by: Catie
Recommended for: People who like intelligent YA fantasy


My favorite thing about this book is, of course, Wyverary A-Through-L. What's a wyverary, you ask? Well, when a wyvern and a library love each other very very much......blush... you know the spiel.


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But do I sense some skepticism, my cynical friends? Do you maybe insist on thinking there is an infinitely more prosaic explanation for the existence of Wyverary, an alphabetizing-loving fire-breathing half-library? Let him rebuke your doubts himself:
September, really. Which do you think is more likely? That some brute bull left my mother with egg and went off to sell lonemozers, or that she mated with a Library and had many loved and loving children? I mean, let us be realistic!
This is a cute and whimsical story of a pre-teen Nebraska girl September (born in May, actually) who eagerly leaves the world where her father is fighting in a war and her mother is building airplanes, and sets out for Fairyland. Where, as she soon learns, things are not all that she had thought they'd be. There is violence, and slavery, and pain, and abandonment, and cruelty, and bureaucracy.
I believe I am sick to death of hearing what is and is not allowed. What is the purpose of a Fairyland if everything lovely is outlawed, just like in the real world?
Along the way, September meets the aforementioned Wyverary, a wish-granting Marid, the evil Marquess, spoonless witches, queenless soap golem, migrating velocipedes, and a jacket that is eager to please, among others. Along the way, she loses her heart, her shadow, her friends, and a great deal of her innocence. And finds much more than she lost - or bargained for.
Oh, September. Such lonely, lost things you find on your way. It would be easier, if you were the only one lost. But lost children always find each other, in the dark, in the cold. It is as though they are magnetized, and can only attract their like. [...] If you would only leave cages locked and turn away from unloved Wyverns, you could stay Heartless. But you are stubborn, and do not listen to your elders.
This story is marketed for children, but I think it takes an adult to fully appreciate the scope of this story as well as many more-or-less subtle adult hints scattered throughout. The book is permeated with the nostalgia for childhood and innocence, and you can truly appreciate this nostalgia only after you have left your childhood behind.

The writing and the plotting of this book reminded me of a hybrid between the creations of Lewis Carroll (with less whimsy), Terry Pratchett (but less firmly grounded in the unreal reality), and Neil Gaiman (with less of the trademark matter-of-fact coolness). At first I thought it was trying too hard to be cute and self-aware, a bit too flowery, with overly precocious allegories and endless whimsy. Example:
You’ll know it right away, it’s a big wooden spoon, streaked with marrow and wine and sugar and yogurt and yesterday and grief and passion and jealousy and tomorrow.
But the writing grew on me as I continued with the story, and I came to love the fluidity of language and the beauty and lyricism of Valente's apt descriptions. The plot moves along smoothly and in determined fashion - much like September does through the Fairyland.

..........

As for our heroine September - she is pretty cool and awesome. She is kind and resourceful and brave and stubborn and spirited. But I must admit - I did not care for her as much as I did for Gaiman's Coraline or Pratchett's Tiffany Aching - but in all honesty, those characters are hard to compete with. I cared more for her quest than for her. But the supporting characters truly shine.
That’s the way I’m made. I have to keep going, always, and even when I get where I’m going I’ll have to keep on.
The strange and somewhat broken Fairyland has won me over. I recommend this book to everyone who loves to exercise their imagination with a bot of whimsy. Plus, you will get to meet my favorite Wyverary! 4.5 stars, and it is placed on my "For-my-future-hypothetical-daughter" shelf.
Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.

........................
My review for the second September book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, is over here, by the way.
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Quotes Nataliya Liked

Catherynne M. Valente
“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Readers will always insist on adventures, and though you can have grief without adventures, you cannot have adventures without grief.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente
“Oh, September. Such lonely, lost things you find on your way. It would be easier, if you were the only one lost. But lost children always find each other, in the dark, in the cold. It is as though they are magnetized, and can only attract their like. [...] If you would only leave cages locked and turn away from unloved Wyverns, you could stay Heartless. But you are stubborn, and do not listen to your elders.”
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


Reading Progress

March 18, 2012 – Shelved
March 19, 2012 – Started Reading
March 19, 2012 –
page 50
20.24% "Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble."
March 19, 2012 –
page 70
28.34% "I believe I am sick to death of hearing what is and is not allowed. What is the purpose of a Fairyland if everything lovely is outlawed, just like in the real world?"
March 20, 2012 –
page 130
52.63% ""Oh, September. Such lonely, lost things you find on your way. It would be easier, if you were the only one lost. But lost children always find each other, in the dark, in the cold. It is as though they are magnetized, and can only attract their like [...] If you would only leave cages locked and turn away from unloved Wyverns, you could stay Heartless. But you are stubborn, and do not listen to your elders." <3"
March 21, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)

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Catie Ha! You already started it. (Just mentioned it over on your Lathe of Heaven thread). Say hello to my favorite Wyverary. :)


Nataliya Btw, I absolutely adore "Ell" the Wyverary <3 And I really DO believe his father was the library. Let's be realistic.


Catie Hahaha, yes. What IS more likely, really? I love that whole part.


Nataliya Right. Is it wrong that I want a Wyverary of my own?


Catie I think you're going to end up liking this book. It feels kind of odd and quirky at first, but it has a surprising amount of depth.


Nataliya I initially thought it was trying too hard to be cute and whimsical. But it grew on me. Now I can't imagine it having any other style.


Catie I really want to try out some of her adult books. I've heard that In the Night Garden is amazing.


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) I really want to read her book Deathless. Looking forward to the review, Nataliya.


Nataliya Added both In the Night Garden and Deathless to my TBR list. Will try to hunt them down at the library. Valente seems like a good writer, and I am curious to see what else she has to offer.


Richard Derus Really fun review!


Catie This is a great review Nataliya! I love that you have a shelf for your future (hypothetical) daughter. This book is sitting on a shelf in my house right now, just waiting for my girls to be old enough. :)

Wasn't the ending just spectacular? There's also a prequel, which I haven't read yet.

I'm definitely going to hunt down those two adult books of hers too.


Nataliya Catie wrote: "This is a great review Nataliya! I love that you have a shelf for your future (hypothetical) daughter. This book is sitting on a shelf in my house right now, just waiting for my girls to be old e..."

Thanks, Catie.

I decided to start a bookshelf for my future (hypothetical) daughter after realizing how many young girls I know are reading and taking seriously some (mostly sparkly) books that are doing nothing good for their self-esteem, worldview or development, and don't have any good literary role models. I want my future daughter to be strong, smart, resourceful, creative, and independent, and so I hope to assemble a good reading list for her to help her get there. Some of the books come from my childhood, others I just recently discovered. This one will proudly join that list.

And I will look for the prequel - that should be fun!


Catie Yeah! I completely agree. I checked out your shelf yesterday and was really excited to see Alanna on there.

I still need to read the prequel too!


Nataliya Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews) wrote: "I really want to read her book Deathless. Looking forward to the review, Nataliya."

I just found myself in the possession of Deathless by Valente! It's about Russian folklore characters! I am so incredibly excited that I resort to using multiple exclamation marks!!!!!


carol. Nataliya wrote: "Btw, I absolutely adore "Ell" the Wyverary <3 And I really DO believe his father was the library. Let's be realistic."

That was one of my favorite quotes--thank you for using it!

And regarding the multiple exclamation marks... I sometimes make myself blush on these threads--I'm not an exclamation mark kind of person. What can I say--I get carried away by books!


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) Nataliya wrote: "Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews) wrote: "I really want to read her book Deathless. Looking forward to the review, Nataliya."

I just found myself in the possession of Deathless by Val..."


I am jealous! And massive amounts of !'s are totally appropriate in book situations like these!


message 17: by Kay (new)

Kay <3 this review. And the pictures! I definitely have to read this soon. It's been on my to-read list forever!

Have you read In the Night Garden? It's not a character-centric story, but it was superbly written.


Nataliya Kay wrote: "<3 this review. And the pictures! I definitely have to read this soon. It's been on my to-read list forever!

Have you read In the Night Garden? It's not a character-centric sto..."


I haven't read it, but I read your review of it - and I will definitely hunt that book down. It sounds great. I love Valente's writing and definitely plan on reading all of her books - she is a fantastic writer!


message 19: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH Great review, Nataliya. I've been meaning to find me a copy of this book.


Nataliya AH wrote: "Great review, Nataliya. I've been meaning to find me a copy of this book."

You should! It's wonderful.


message 21: by David (last edited Apr 10, 2012 05:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David I loved this book. And Valente just announced pre-orders for the sequel!


Nataliya David wrote: "I loved this book. And Valente just announced pre-orders for the sequel!"

Awesome. The cover is beautiful, too. I'm marking October 2nd as a book-shopping day in my calendar :)


message 23: by Officialz (new)

Officialz Everything Gaiman does is clunky and Aching is low on the list of Pratchett's best characters. I guess I will skip CMV for now.


Nataliya Officialz wrote: "Everything Gaiman does is clunky and Aching is low on the list of Pratchett's best characters. I guess I will skip CMV for now."

I will respectfully disagree (I kinda have to since I love Pratchett's and Gaiman's writing to pieces).

And I think you shouldn't dismiss Valente just because I see similarities in her writing to the authors you don't seem to like much. You might not see those similarities if you read her books (after all, my opinion is simply an opinion), and I do think her books are well worth the effort of giving them a try.


message 25: by Leigh (new) - added it

Leigh A truly beautiful review. You've sold it to me in a heartbeat.


Nataliya Leigh wrote: "A truly beautiful review. You've sold it to me in a heartbeat."

Thanks, Leigh. I hear that the sequel to this book is just as good as this one, or even better.


Nataliya Lanie wrote: "I love this review. It's exactly how I feel of the book, and also I LOVE Tiffany Aching and Coraline!"

Yes!!! A kindred soul :)


Neopolitan333 I disagree. This book is plenty appealing to children. I'm a preteen and I enjoyed the book very much. Yes, it's dark in places, but September manages to get out of pretty much anything-with a little help from Ell, Saturday, and the Green Wind.


Nataliya Nora McIntyre wrote: "I disagree. This book is plenty appealing to children. I'm a preteen and I enjoyed the book very much. Yes, it's dark in places, but September manages to get out of pretty much anything-with a l..."

I'm glad you liked it, Nora.


Jareed Loved your review!


message 31: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Wonderful review, Nataliya. It also reminds me that I have to read some Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.


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