Title: How to Ditch Your Fairy
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Everyone in New Avalon has a fairy. Though invisible, a personal fairy is vital to success. It might determine whether you pass a math class or find the perfect outfit. But all fourteen-year-old Charlie can do is find parking spaces—and she doesn’t even drive. At first, teaming up with Fiorenza (who has an all-the-boys-like-you fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, she’ll have to resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy.
I first decided to read this book because I love Larbalestier’s Magic or Madness trilogy. The concept sounded interesting enough, although it did seem like it might be a little shallow. Despite that, I hoped I’d like it as much as I loved the Magic or Madness books. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to get into this book as well.
My main problem was the main character, Charlie. From the very beginning, she annoyed me. She’s really whiny, always complaining about her fairy and how everyone has a better fairy than her. She’s trying to get rid of the fairy before the story even started but unfortunately she’s still working on it, which makes up most of the story. This leads to plenty of whining on her part, of course, which makes it difficult for me to feel sorry for her and her fairy woes. She also doesn’t think about consequences of her ‘brilliant plan,’ even though many people advise her against it. There were times that I wanted to reach into the book and slap her or at least scream some sense into her.
Since I had so much trouble liking Charlie, that made the romance hard to believe or root for. The love interest is a great guy who becomes friends with Charlie and later develops into more, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what he sees in her. Charlie is always making fun of him (mostly in her head, but it’s bad enough that she even thinks that and expects him to love her), and she constantly seems shocked that his life in a different town was so much different than her own. She’s so wrapped up in the own world, always thinking that her town of New Avalon is the greatest city in the world and nothing can compare to it. They have such strange customs, but because it’s normal to her, she refuses to accept that anyone could possibly be different, including Steffi, the love interest. I constantly pray that Steffi will wake up and realize that Charlie is far from a suitable friend, let alone a girlfriend, and I cheered the one time he finally got mad at her – although I was sad when he eventually came back.
I also had trouble following the customs of the book. I found the glossary in the book fairly early on, but you really had no way of knowing that it was there unless you actually looked for it, and it still didn’t explain everything, leaving me following lost nonetheless. Because I would constantly find myself confused, it made it even harder to get into the story and enjoy myself.
Even with all these problems, though, I not only managed to finish the book (although at times I felt like I was forcing myself), but I still managed to enjoy the story, as long as I ignored my problem with Charlie. That’s a testament to Larbalestier’s writing abilities that I managed to stick with it and even come out on the other side at least a little happy with the story. It certainly didn’t change my views on anything, or even really teach me the lesson it was obviously trying to convey – be careful what you wish for – but overall it seemed like an enjoyable book that I don’t regret reading, although I am glad that now that I’m done, I can go on to better books by Larbalestier, like Magic or Madness.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars