No, not Mystique or Smurfette or a Na’vi

5 Nov

Doesn't she just look like a BAMF?

The Blue Girl, by Charles de Lint follows Imogene Yeck as she starts at a new high school. At her old school, Imogene ran in a gang, but she’s leaving that behind for a shot at being normal, making (a) friend, and maybe even graduating. But things start to go pear-shaped when she draws the attention of the school ghost. Pretty soon she’s dreaming of creepy fairies and her imaginary childhood friend reappears – and he might not be that imaginary anymore. Now there’s soul-sucking demons after her and she’s gonna have to dust off her old skills if she’s going to make it out alive.

When Imogene starts her new high school, she decides things are going to be different. She tones down her look (at first), starts actually going to class, and makes friends with a girl at the bottom of the social ladder. But what she doesn’t realize is that her world is crawling with beings she’s never imagined. It starts with a talk with a ghost, who then unknowingly sics some malicious brownies on her. Then she starts getting foreboding warnings from her ex-imaginary friend, Pelly, and the shadows in her room suddenly reveal themselves as soul-eating demons who have locked in on her. It’s a race against time as Imogene and her mish-mash of friends search for a way to save her soul – literally.

Imogene reminds me of Egg/Victoria from the earlier post, Boyproof. She is fiercely independent and wears her uniqueness with pride. Imogene, however, is full of self-confidence and though she garners some heat from the school bullies over her appearance and attitude, it’s easy for her to just brush it off – something I’ve always envied but never managed myself. Her simple message is that she’s happy in her own skin, and didn’t want to be friends with bullies anyway. She’s silly and dresses weird, but she’s avoided that existential angst that typifies the 13-18 age range (or at least it did mine). Her surety of her self-worth enables her to extend the olive branch to one of her tormentors, bringing an eventual end to hostilities.

While many of the characters’ acceptance of the supernatural seems way too easy, otherwise the book is pretty darn good. The narrative flip-flops both back and forth in time and between three characters, which keeps the pacing up nicely, and the handy chapter headers help to avoid confusion on who or when. Imogene herself is interesting and a great role-model without being unrealistic, and it’s just as fulfilling when she aces a test as when she finally gives the reigning jock-bully a good beat-down.

The story itself is definitely creepy, but the fear-factor is lessened by the normal day goings-on, and Imogene’s no-sweat attitude. It’s typified as a work of “urban fantasy” where the fairies are running around with bottle caps in their hair instead of flowers, and consequently very interesting. Other works in the genre are Holly Black’s Tithe, Chris Wooding’s The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, and even The Mortal Instruments to a certain extent. It’s an intriguing genre and one that’s swiftly growing.

The Blue Girl gets an AJ on the PSA.

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4 Responses to “No, not Mystique or Smurfette or a Na’vi”

  1. Margaret Thompson November 6, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Is this book in the same world as de Lint’s adult urban fantasy books? The only one I’ve read is The Onion Girl. It was good, I guess, but I felt like it was mostly a retread of ideas I’d seen done better elsewhere, so I’ve been reluctant to try anything else by him.

    • pickychick books November 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

      I’m not totally sure on this point, Margaret, as this is the only book of his that I’ve read. The author blurb mentioned that a number of his other books are set in the fictional town of Newford, which is where The Blue Girl takes place, but it didn’t mention The Onion Girl… So, maybe?

  2. Kelsey T November 9, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    This Imogene sounds pretty BA indeed and I’m interested to see how all of these fantasy creatures interact with her. Question: is she the only one that sees these creatures? Is she not completely human or something?

    • pickychick books November 9, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

      The theory in the book is that there are creatures etc all around but normal humans can’t see them because they don’t want to/don’t believe in them, but once you’re aware of them you see them. So the ghost asks some fairies to make Imogene see them, and then it all just snowballs. Also, later she helps some of her friends see them so that they can do battle. Confusing? Yes.

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