Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ok. I have put this off for long enough. I have important things to say*, so I am darn well going to say them! I got an ARC of Ash at ALA a few weeks ago, devoured it immediately, and am just now sitting down to tell you how fantastic it is. Don't hate! I'll regale you with tales of the kidlet's cuteness later in hopes that you will then forgive me.

*important to me, at least. Probably just me.

A word of caution - I will probably allude to how the book ends. I'm really bad about that. For me, though (especially in a book like this that is a retelling of Cinderella so you know somewhat how it turns out) it isn't about where the characters end up. It's how they get there. So read on with this review (and in general, this blog), but know that I am not afraid to let slip details from near the end.

So anyway - if you were going to write a book designed specifically for me it would be this book. Retelling of something from the 398.2s*? Check! Gorgeously seductive but ultimately terrifying faeries? Check! A world that is not heteronormative? Check!

*UGH - YES - I AM THAT NERD! I do think of them as the 398.2s (or sometimes the 398s if I'm feeling lazy) instead of as folk and faerie tales. I'm crazy.

For the most part I don't need to give you a quick summary - it's Cinderella with extra faeries and plus the awesome Huntress. Like I said - I rarely read books for the basic plot structure. my love of a book comes from the details and Ash is full of fantastic ones. The world is a growing and changing world. The old tales of faeries are completely not en vogue anymore, but Ash has grown up in a small town far outside of the capital city that still believes. Tales of the Fae are constantly being told between the characters.

It was in these tales that I began to realize that the world wasn't heteronormative. Do you have any idea how refreshing that is? Through out the tales women fall in love with men and women fall in love with women* and nobody ever says "oh my goodness lookie here that woman just fell in love with another woman and that is SO WEIRD!" When Ash starts to have a crush on the huntress, it seems impossible to her that she should have this crush because of tons of outside influences making it seem crazy (she's not good enough, she's a servant, etc.), but not one of those reasons is ever that to fall for a woman is bad. I love this. I can't tell you how much I love this. I know it's near impossible in realistic fiction for something like this to happen - we just don't live in the sort of world - but in this lush fantasy world that Lo has created, I would like to think that maybe some GLTBIQ teen who picks this up will let him/herself feel like maybe he/she isn't crazy for being the person he/she** is!

*I don't remember any men falling in love with men, but I think that is more because there are so few male characters and less because of any other reason.

**OY! ENGLISH! Can we please get ourselves a third person singular pronoun that is non gender specific for when we're talking about just some random person who could be either? Get on that, will ya?

So ... enough with my random soapboxing about my worldview. You want to know about the book, yes? Well let me tell you I loved it! Again let me remind you that I am a sucker for EXACTLY THIS KIND OF BOOK so I may be a hair biased, but please don't let that stop you from picking this up. It should be in stores September 1 and in your local library pretty soon after.

No comments: