This novel is wall-to-wall wish fulfillment – but the wishes fulfilled aren’t mine.

My fantasies tend to center around righting wrongs, being bad-ass, going to boot camp or magic academy or ninja school or some such and thereby acquiring said bad-ass (or magical or psychic powers, or other skills), growing into talents and wisdom and purpose, traveling and adventuring, having your hard work pay off, and finding friends and a cool romantic partner who appreciate and love you, flaws and all. Animal companions are also good.

The fantasies in this book are about being pretty, being magically special in ways that fit creepy social ideals of how teenage girls ought to be, being loved by everyone who isn’t ugly and evil, and having money, specialness, and magic powers handed to you without having to do anything to get them. Do you sense a mismatch?

Fifteen-year-old Laurel has perfect, pale, near-translucent skin that never gets pimples; she’s never hungry, barely eats, and subsists on fruits, vegetables, and Sprite; she’s never gotten a cut or scrape and never menstruated; she’s incredibly beautiful and canonically looks more like a teenager on TV than a real teenager. So, to review: white, slim, gorgeous, doesn’t eat, and doesn’t bleed: the perfect image of femininity!

Homeschooled her whole life, she’s nervous about starting public school, but luckily a cute guy immediately takes a liking to her and gets his friends to befriend her, and no one ever bullies her. Then a beautiful and perfumed flower that resembles wings sprouts from her back! Her flower wings can’t be used to fly. (She could use them to get pollinated and reproduce, though she doesn’t.) What does she use them for? To be pretty and admired!

It turns out that she’s a fairy – and that fairies are plants. In other words, the modern American ideal of the teenage girl is a vegetable. Possibly this concept would have worked better as satire.

Actually, the idea of a plant-girl is pretty cool, and the best part of the novel is when she scientifically investigates her own body. The rest of the book is all about everyone loving her and being nice to her and flirting with her and conveniently explaining what’s going on to her – and then she’s briefly in danger and comes up with a clever idea to save the day. Enjoy that bit, folks, because it’s the only time in the whole book when Laurel takes significant action on her own behalf. After that the fairies bail her out, fight for her, and solve all her problems via magic and a diamond as big as the Ritz.

The fairies are beautiful and good. Their enemies, the trolls, are ugly and evil. This is carried over from classic fairytales, but it’s taken further when a fairy explains that beauty is symmetry and fairies are perfectly symmetrical and trolls are asymmetrical, and the fairies have tried to help the trolls a while back but the trolls’ asymmetry and deformations prove that they are a doomed evolutionary dead end and they were ungrateful anyway. So in this book it’s not only implicit but explicit that beauty is goodness and ugliness is evil. I was creeped out by this and started siding with the trolls. Especially when it turns out that the trolls want to invade Fairyland to steal the diamonds which are so common there that they’re worthless. In that case, why not give them the worthless diamonds in return for a ceasefire?

I’m not crazy about the concept of Mary Sue, because it’s often used to mock any competent or “special” female protagonist. But Laurel is undeniably the quintessential Mary Sue: gorgeous, flawless, a blank slate, loved by all for no reason other than that she’s beautiful (spoiler )), possessing many talents without doing anything to earn or hone them, and given every reward without having to do anything other than stand there and be special. It’s indicative that the story of the book could have happened exactly the same way had Laurel been planted after she gets chucked in the river, and spent the rest of the book growing out of a pot.

Wings
This novel is wall-to-wall wish fulfillment – but the wishes fulfilled aren’t mine.

My fantasies tend to center around righting wrongs, being bad-ass, going to boot camp or magic academy or ninja school or some such and thereby acquiring said bad-ass (or magical or psychic powers, or other skills), growing into talents and wisdom and purpose, traveling and adventuring, having your hard work pay off, and finding friends and a cool romantic partner who appreciate and love you, flaws and all. Animal companions are also good.

The fantasies in this book are about being pretty, being magically special in ways that fit creepy social ideals of how teenage girls ought to be, being loved by everyone who isn’t ugly and evil, and having money, specialness, and magic powers handed to you without having to do anything to get them. Do you sense a mismatch?

Fifteen-year-old Laurel has perfect, pale, near-translucent skin that never gets pimples; she’s never hungry, barely eats, and subsists on fruits, vegetables, and Sprite; she’s never gotten a cut or scrape and never menstruated; she’s incredibly beautiful and canonically looks more like a teenager on TV than a real teenager. So, to review: white, slim, gorgeous, doesn’t eat, and doesn’t bleed: the perfect image of femininity!

Homeschooled her whole life, she’s nervous about starting public school, but luckily a cute guy immediately takes a liking to her and gets his friends to befriend her, and no one ever bullies her. Then a beautiful and perfumed flower that resembles wings sprouts from her back! Her flower wings can’t be used to fly. (She could use them to get pollinated and reproduce, though she doesn’t.) What does she use them for? To be pretty and admired!

It turns out that she’s a fairy – and that fairies are plants. In other words, the modern American ideal of the teenage girl is a vegetable. Possibly this concept would have worked better as satire.

Actually, the idea of a plant-girl is pretty cool, and the best part of the novel is when she scientifically investigates her own body. The rest of the book is all about everyone loving her and being nice to her and flirting with her and conveniently explaining what’s going on to her – and then she’s briefly in danger and comes up with a clever idea to save the day. Enjoy that bit, folks, because it’s the only time in the whole book when Laurel takes significant action on her own behalf. After that the fairies bail her out, fight for her, and solve all her problems via magic and a diamond as big as the Ritz.

The fairies are beautiful and good. Their enemies, the trolls, are ugly and evil. This is carried over from classic fairytales, but it’s taken further when a fairy explains that beauty is symmetry and fairies are perfectly symmetrical and trolls are asymmetrical, and the fairies have tried to help the trolls a while back but the trolls’ asymmetry and deformations prove that they are a doomed evolutionary dead end and they were ungrateful anyway. So in this book it’s not only implicit but explicit that beauty is goodness and ugliness is evil. I was creeped out by this and started siding with the trolls. Especially when it turns out that the trolls want to invade Fairyland to steal the diamonds which are so common there that they’re worthless. In that case, why not give them the worthless diamonds in return for a ceasefire?

I’m not crazy about the concept of Mary Sue, because it’s often used to mock any competent or “special” female protagonist. But Laurel is undeniably the quintessential Mary Sue: gorgeous, flawless, a blank slate, loved by all for no reason other than that she’s beautiful (spoiler )), possessing many talents without doing anything to earn or hone them, and given every reward without having to do anything other than stand there and be special. It’s indicative that the story of the book could have happened exactly the same way had Laurel been planted after she gets chucked in the river, and spent the rest of the book growing out of a pot.

Wings
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