Monday, June 6, 2011


Fairy Bad Day - Amanda Ashby
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
# of pages: 336
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: June 9, 2011

While most students at Burtonwood Academy get to kill demons and goblins, fifteen-year-old Emma gets to rid the world of little annoying fairies with glittery wings and a hipster fashion sense. She was destined to be a dragon slayer, but cute and charming Curtis stole her spot. Then she sees a giant killer fairy - and it's invisible to everyone but her! If Emma has any chance of stopping this evil fairy, she's going to need help. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Curtis. And now, not only has he stolen her dragon-slayer spot, but maybe her heart as well! Why does she think it's going to be a fairy bad day?

Okay, right away when I read this book back in April, I knew it was going to be something special. In fact, my first Goodreads status update said: "I'm already on page ten and already this book's fantasy world is way, WAY more creative and exciting than most other books I've read recently."
Seriously. The storyworld here is very dynamic, very detailed, and beautifully simple. It's like Hogwarts lite combined with a non-mythology version of Camp Half Blood. In this world, kids like Emma attend a boarding school (and just the fact that it's a boarding school that doesn't reek of the "Gossip Girl"/House of Night/every-juvenile-delinquent-activity-you-can-think-of- that-allegedly-happens-at-a-boarding-school image REALLY gives me hope for these places continuing to be used as a legitimately-interesting story location) where they learn how to use their gifts to help control the paranormal population. Kids like Emma have "the sight," meaning they can see the several paranormal creatures that make up this richly populated story world, and their jobs are simple: keep these paranormals in order, and if need be, protect the human population by, well, slaying wayward paranormals. There are troll slayers, demon slayers, goblin slayers, coveted dragon slayers, and fairy slayers, which Emma unhappily becomes as the story opens. The synopsis from Goodreads seems so overly-simple compared to the truly dynamic story world Amanda Ashby has created, and also the plot that unfurls as Emma learns that her job slaying pesky little fairies is really more life-and-death than she anticipated. There were some parts of the story that didn't really feel very clear to me (for example, if humans can't see all the paranormals, are they really in danger of them? and is slaying really necessary?) But quite simply, I found this book utterly fascinating.

I really do love "rite-of-passage" characters - actually, I kind of crave them. So while Emma's initial me-centric and immature attitude was a little hard to see through, I really enjoyed how she gradually became responsible, sensitive, and caring. She became much more in-tune with those around her, including the character who is my absolute favorite in the book - Curtis! Curtis was everything I like: sense of humor without being a goofball, caring but not overbearing, and assertive enough to stand up for himself when Emma got a little ridiculous with herself. Plus - added bonus - he went through most of the book on crutches. Yes, a dude who is "strong" and capable but still can't quite walk without assistance. That was very cool, and that's something that really set him apart and made him stand out from all the other love interests in all the other books I've gone through.
Even though I usually make much ado about the main characters in a book (boy/girl + love interest), I need to mention how well-rounded and charming the supporting characters of Fairy Bad Day were. In a time in YA fiction when the designated "best friend character" is usually a couple fries short of a Happy Meal (not in a generally unintelligent way but in an airheady, probably-listened-to-too-many-Hansen-songs way). Either that or they're the "writing angry poetry in red pen" sort. So I really, really enjoyed the fact that Emma's friends/classmates had personalities and were genuinely interesting, but not the Adderall-and-a-leash kind.
Though Fairy Bad Day's ending was satisfying, I am absolutely dying to know if this will be the first installment in a series. As interesting as the storyworld was, there's so much more that could be expanded, so many details left to be explored. This is one of the few books of 2011 that really, truly, has made me want MORE. And isn't the cover a win?!
Seriously, I can't think of a book that's more deserving of your attention this summer!

Fairy Bad Day @ Amazon
Amanda Ashby's website

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