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A Reader of Fictions: Out in the Country - Three Dog Night

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Out in the Country - Three Dog Night

Trickster's Girl
Raven Duet, Book 1

Author: Hilari Bell
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 288
ARC Acquired From:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Net Galley

Brief Summary:
Since Kelsa's dad passed away from cancer, she has felt a bit hopeless. She has trouble connecting to her mother and is, unsurprisingly, quite sad. Out of the blue, a guy approaches her, who appears to be a teen, and asks her to go on a quest to steal a medicine man's pouch from a museum and heal the ley lines in the northern U.S. and Canada with it. Kelsa, quite logically, is freaked out and says in no uncertain terms that she wants no part of this business. He keeps showing up everywhere she goes though and shows her how he can turn into a bird, a raven. His name, as much as he has one, is Raven. His persistence pays off and she agrees to help him save the ley lines, because she hopes that that will halt the tree plague and maybe lessen occurrences of cancer.

Trickster's Girl
is not like the average young adult fantasy. For one thing, there's no romance. The whole book is very focused on the quest and on saving the environment. Although Raven is hot, he is demonstrably not human.

Similarly, Kelsa does not constantly rely on him to save her. She is no Bella Swan, constantly tripping and needing to be carried. He saves her sometimes, but there are even more times where she saves herself or she saves him. I really loved that aspect of Trickster's Girl. Kelsa doesn't kick ass; she's a normal girl, but she can take care of herself. She makes a lot of the big decisions and reacts maturely to most of the situations in which she finds herself. Kelsa is, despite the running away from home to troop around a couple countries with a supernatural guy she barely knows, a fairly good role model.

The best part for me was the view into the future Bell has created here. The book is set a minimum of 85 years in the future, as Kelsa sees graffiti from 2094. America is, unsurprisingly, a bit different. There are some cool new technologies, like cars that hover a little bit off the ground and electric vehicles. On the converse side, there are numerous references to the damage to the environment done by humans, such as the bioplague wiping out the rainforest in South America. One really cool aspect is the description of how the new swear words developed, so watch for that. Also some dystopian elements, which I loved of course!

The quest itself is a neat idea, what with the environmental impact and all of that. Still, the way she healed the ley line was so incredibly lame. She would toss a pinch of dust and recite an incantation/ode to some element of nature: glaciers, trees, animals, etc. This does pay homage to the medicine man and perhaps resemble an Indian ritual of some sort (I confess that I do not know), but, either way, the incantations are super stupid. They just don't seem earth-changing.

The writing of the book was quite good, except for the aforementioned incantations and Bell's repetitiveness with regards to Kelsa's opinions of Raven. A sequel is in the works, currently titled Traitor's Son, for which I will be on the lookout.

"Before the breathin' air is gone
Before the sun is just a bright spot in the nighttime
Out where the rivers like to run
I stand alone and take back somethin' worth rememberin'

Whenever I feel them closing in on me
Or need a bit of room to move
When life becomes too fast, I find relief at last
Out in the country"

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