Friday, May 14, 2010
Review of Foiled by Jane Yolen
Yolen, Jane. Foiled. Illustrated by Mike Cavallaro. First Second, 2010.
Teens feel different - they are different from the way they were as children, they are different from adults, they are different from each other. How seductive, then, is the possibility that they are not just freaky and awkward because they're going through a Phase, but because they are actually part Elf or Faerie, or have magical powers, or are in some other way much more cool and special than others might think.
Naturally, there are a plethora of books with this theme, and Foiled is one of them. Color-blind 10th-grader Aliera is passionate about fencing but otherwise feels rather pale and invisible. She falls unwillingly for her lab partner, the annoying but very good-looking Avery Castle at school, but when he finally asks her out and they meet at Grand Central Station, some very odd things start to happen - and Aliera discovers that there is an invisible magical world superimposed on ours, in which she is to play an important, and inherited, role.
This feels a bit like Holly Black's "Good Neighbors" graphic novel series (Kin and Kith so far), but for a younger audience. The artwork has a perky, manga-esque style that is quite different from Ted Naifeh's gothic, edgy drawings in Good Neighbors, and the story line is not nearly so dark. In fact, there really isn't much plot here at all; readers won't learn much about the importance of Aliera's ruby-topped weapon or why she and her family are Defenders or what Avery's role in all this is. I assume there will be a sequel, as the book ends with a great deal of unanswered questions.
Good stuff - Aliera's fierceness and her loyalty to her younger, wheelchair-bound cousin; the bright, unworldly spots of color brightening Aliera's color-blind world (although color-blind people don't see the world in shades of gray, right?); the depiction of Aliera as a lean and graceful fencer but an awkward high school student.
I wish the plot had more depth or at least more content - this is far too quick and light a read for fantasy and graphic novel fans like me. But this very quality makes Foiled just right for reluctant readers or folks who don't want to spend days on one book. This one should be easy and gratifying to hand-sell to kids in grades 4 to 8.
Posted by Eva M