Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Am I Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
I guess not.
Last night, while suffering through a really impressive attack of insomnia, I promised myself I could quit reading Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge. I'm not proud of myself. The book is supposed to be for kids in Grades 5 and up, after all. But I felt totally overwhelmed by what seemed to me to be a complex religious system for the world of the novel as well as the political skullduggery being carried on amongst two guilds, a group called the Birdcatchers, which probably has some religious significance, but maybe not, and which may not still be around at the time of the story, and a crazy Duke who pines away for some seriously creepy twin Queens. (I rather liked that part.)
After looking at some on-line commentary about Fly By Night, I'm now guessing that the never-ending list of bizarre household gods or saints or whatever they are is supposed to be funny. That shot right over my head. And I could not for the life of me figure out who were supposed to be the good guys and who the bad guys. And that's fine. I agree. That's sophisticated. But in this case, I could just barely keep these people with their funny names apart, let alone figure out who was after whom and why.
And I read 267 pages out of the total of 483.
Our heroine, Mosca Mye, is an attractive character, though she falls into that stereotype of motherless girl who is bookish because she has been brought up by a scholarly father. She travels with a vicious goose. That was mildly amusing, but I kept wondering, Why a goose?
I also found reading the book very slow going. I've been working on it for a good week, I'm sure. I think that perhaps the language is a little...artie...for my taste. Very elegant, maybe, for the sake of being elegant? Many similes, for instance, which are supposed to compare something unknown with something known, didn't quite do the trick. "His every sentence began in a deep, sonorous, church-bell voice, and ended in a chatty, rough-cut tone like a peddler's shamble." I believe the author was comparing a character's voice to a peddler's shamble, but I don't know what a peddler's shamble sounds like. That description, and others like it, weren't very helpful to me. They were just words for me to slug my way through.
Fly By Night isn't a bad book. I think there was probably a story, or maybe even stories, in there that I would have enjoyed. I just think that maybe there was too much in the book. Too much for me, anyway.
Not for Fuse #8, though. She loved Fly By Night, as did other bloggers.