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Book Report: Ever

Your Humble Blogger was going to give Ever a pass. I have liked the Gail Carson Levine books (although I don’t remember to blog them; Ella Enchanted, Fairest and The Two Princesses of Bamarre got blogged, and I really only noted that Dave at Night made it onto the blog), but for some reason I wasn’t really excited about this one. But my Perfect Non-Reader asked me to read it, so we could talk about it, and I accepted with alacrity, if not eagerness.

I found it difficult to get in to the thing. The three fairy-tale books were all set, more or less, in Maerchenwald; phony medieval villages and palaces where people fight with swords or songs and trade with copper and silver. This is, I guess, bronze age. Well, it’s not the real world at all, but then neither is that medieval stuff. It felt bronze age. And there was a stylistic choice that I’m not sure I can articulate that aided with that feeling, and contrasted with the once-upon-a-time stuff of her other books. I prefer the once-upon-a-time stuff.

On the other hand, once I got into it, I enjoyed the thing. The story is a romance between a minor god in a polytheistic pantheon and a mortal girl in a monotheistic society. The monotheistic village is horrendously repressive and vile; the girl is slated to be a sacrifice. The multiple gods do not have human sacrifice, and our hero is appalled, as well as being, you know, distressed that his love will be killed.

I don’t know if the book has been challenged in middle-school libraries. If it hasn’t, it’s through ignorant oversight. This is a much more subversive book than His Dark Materials, I think, if only because it’s much easier to read and follow for younger kids. Not that I object, personally, to my kid reading it, or to its inclusion in the libraries. But then, I tend to (a) support the judgments of librarians, and (2) find that some subversive ideas are good for my kid’s faith process. And my kid is a year and a half away from middle-school, yet; I don’t think her school library has the Gail Carson Levine books at all, which, you know, is a reasonable choice for kids under eleven. But in the middle school, Ella Enchanted has got to be a hot item, right? And then the kids keep reading them and you keep buying them, and sooner or later some parent is going to freak out. Only (as my Best Reader pointed out to me) you really have to read the book to know what’s objectionable. The blurb wouldn’t look any worse than the Percy Jackson books (which may also be challenged at middle schools, I guess), and the really bothersome stuff wouldn’t turn up until the reader is a third of the way through. It’s a stereotype, but I somehow don’t think that many of the library book challenges are based on somebody reading the books.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,