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Fool Me Once

Jenny reviews Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater, in which narrator duties shift to the Duckie from the first installment of the Books of Faerie.

Fool Me Once

BOOK REPORT for Ballad (Books of Faerie 2) by Maggie Stiefvater

BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Out Standing In a Field
Bonus Factors: POV Switch, King of the Dead
Relationship Status: That Book a Friend Set Me Up With And I Went Along Begrudgingly, But Liked Surprisingly Well

The Deal:

In this second installment of Maggie Stiefvater's faerie series, we follow Dee and James as they are enrolled in Thornking Ash, a music school for the gifted. This time the story is from James' perspective. It is also from the perspective of a muse who calls herself Nuala. It seems that James' extraordinary talent on the bagpipes has caught her attention, and she is determined to feed off of him, like you do when you hear a fantastic piper, I guess...

Meanwhile, while James is trying to get over Dee, yet save whatever friendship they have left, and Dee is sinking into an emotional abyss over whatshisname from the last book, the faeries are gathering near Thornking Ash, for some sinister purpose authored by the new faerie queen...

BFF Charm: Yay

Getting to know James more in this book is the whole reason I continued with the series, to be honest. He was the charming, quirky sidekick in the first one. The Duckie, if you will. In this book, we get to see beyond the snarky tee-shirts and quippy comebacks to the sensitive, smart, hurting teenage boy inside. And we like it. I would give James my charm and then I would smack him upside the head and explain to him why it would never work with Dee, and how she does love him, only more like a brother, but she's too selfish and immature and used to being the center of his universe to tell him. Then maybe we could make out a little.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

So while I was reading the first book, I enjoyed it, and I liked Dee's romance. But this book was better, and so was the swoon. As James tries to stay away from Nuala, and Nuala tries to figure out what's happening, and why he's different from her past conquests, I so wanted to shake them and then smoosh their faces together while turning them side to side like I used to do with Barbie and Ken until they GOT IT.

Talky Talk: Out Standing In a Field

So here's the thing: Stiefvater writes a compelling book. I've never read Shiver, but after reading this and its prequel, I must confess that I thoroughly enjoy her writing style, at least while I'm reading it. Still, I would say that's it's geared more for the traditional YA audience than those of us on the A side. Reading these books is like eating Dim Sum. You stuff yourself with it really fast until you're so full you're sure you'll never eat again, but somehow, 2 hours later, you're hungry.

Bonus Factor: POV Switch

There are a few ways to keep the narrative in a series fresh. Changing POV is one of the trickier ones, but Stiefvater does it masterfully. She brings into focus a character who was beloved but slighted in the first book, and really lets him come into his own.

Bonus Factor: King of the Dead

One of the reasons I get sucked into fantasy stories is, well, fantasy. Other realms, magic and mystery, some immortal being who ferries the dead from this life to the next, or who corrals and controls them, keeping them from feasting off the spirits of the living? That's spookiness I can get behind.

Casting Call:

You can see my casting choices for James and Dee in my review of Lament, here.

Nuala was easy:

 

Hannah Murray as Nuala

Ms. Murray could handle Nuala's otherworldliness, as well as her mood shifts. Plus, I think she's sooo talented, I'd like to see her as the leading lady.

Relationship Status: That Book a Friend Set Me Up With And I Went Along Begrudgingly, But Liked Surprisingly Well

I know, you guys, I KNOW. Another faerie book. Which was why I was hesitant to let a friend (er, readers) set me up with it. But it turns out we had a really good time. Not earth-shattering or anything, but nice. Maybe if we'd met years ago, I might have wanted something more with it, but as an adult I can say that we decided not to get serious. Still, this book was a good enough kisser that if there's a third one in the series, I'll probably hook back up with it. But only as long as it knows, you know, no expectations.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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