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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley

File:The Hero and the Crown.jpgI'm going to try and keep this short:

I didn't like it.

I'm not sure why I really stuck with it, except there wasn't another book in the bathroom.  Well, that, and maybe since it's going to be a long time before I can buy another book (this was the most recent new-book purchase).  Maybe it's the fact that it won the Newberry back in 1985.  I don't know.  I read it. 

And I'm not sorry.  Not really.  I guess I was even kind of glad once I FINALLY got to the end, because at least then I understood how it got the Newberry. 

For of those of you who might not know, the Newberry is (by assertion of the inscription on the awarded medal), "awarded annually by the Children's Librarians Section of the American Library Association for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."  (Yeah, they cram all that onto the award.)  And generally I really like Newberry winners.

I hate to say it, I think this particular book only won because it's a great ("great" as in big or thorough) example of girl power, and that in a fantasy no less, a genre dominated, of course, by boys.

I've mentioned previously my problems with the book: IT'S BORING!  Granted, a book doesn't have to be riveting to be good, but it's very genre dictates the contrary!  There is a such a dire detachment between narration, characters, and reader....  The whole thing feels entirely passive and, well, so-what-ish.  And that the author even feels that way.  Additionally, and this is fault of so many fantasies, it seems to be trying to be a new Lord of the Rings.  The chick version.  And I don't have any problem with LOR, and I don't have any problem with chick lit, and even less with books that feature strong girls and women.  I'm all for it.  But I think this book actually worked against the very issue it was trying to support by doing it poorly!

Maybe it was the impolite fumes....  Maybe if I'd sat in my perfectly fragrant leather chair--so soft, comfortable, and adept at eliciting inducements of thought and imagery--I'd have sunk a little more deeply and, if not consistently, at least sympathetically, into the story.

And not that there's nothing redemptive about it.  There are lots of people like it.  I'm just not one of them.

1 comment:

  1. The comment about everyone trying to write the new LOTR is so true. Even JK Rowling, a very successful writer in her own right, has her moments. I think it's hard to see Aragog and not think of Shelob. LOTR's historical significance is just, well, not without parallel, but with few parallels, at least as books written in the 20th century go.


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