Review of How to Ditch Your Fairy, by Justine Larbalestier

How to Ditch Your Fairy,
by Justine Larbalestier

Bloomsbury, 2008. 304 pages.
Starred Review.

Have you ever known someone who never gets in trouble no matter what they do? Or someone who’s never had any cavities? In the future society portrayed in Justine Larbalestier’s book, they have learned the source of such “luck” — fairies!

Charlie (Charlotte Adele Donna Seto Steele) explains her bad fortune in fairies:

“I have a parking fairy. I’m fourteen years old. I can’t drive. I don’t like cars and I have a parking fairy.

“Rochelle gets a clothes-shopping fairy and is always well attired; I get a parking fairy and always smell faintly of gasoline. How fair is that? I love clothes and shopping too. Yes, I have a fine family (except for my sister, ace photographer Nettles, and even she’s tolerable at sometimes) and yes, Rochelle’s family is malodorous. She does deserve some kind of compensation. But why couldn’t I have, I don’t know, a good-hair fairy? Or, not even that doos, a loose-change-finding fairy. Lots of people have that fairy. Rochelle’s dad, Sandra’s cousin, Mom’s best friend’s sister. I’d wholly settle for a loose-change fairy.”

Charlie is trying hard to get rid of her fairy. She figures if she walks everywhere and gives the fairy no chances to use its skills, maybe it will give up and leave her alone. She’s tired of people dragging her around in their cars so they will find a parking spot.

Unfortunately, her plan backfires in multiple ways, and she gets demerits and even a game suspension, which is a tragedy at New Avalon Sports High School. Then the cute guy who moved in nearby and seemed interested in her is falling prey to Fiorenze’s all-boys-will-like-you fairy. All the boys like Fiorenze, but all the girls hate her.

This book is wonderfully funny. I was distracted at first by the slang — mostly because at a writer’s conference a couple years ago I went to a session where the author and her husband Scott Westerfeld talked about creating believable slang. I had to admit she did a great job with it — almost too good, in that it drew my attention. Still, she achieved believable, memorable, and easy-to-figure out in-words that the characters used in so-cool (“doos”) New Avalon. I liked it that Stefan, the new kid, had to get used to the words, too. My favorite one was “pulchritudinous” or “pulchy” for unbelievably beautiful people.

All in all, it seems like a good explanation for some people’s “luck.” And a whole lot of fun to read about.

I should probably call this Fantasy because it involves fairies. But these fairies are simply a phenomenon in a future society that scientists have finally identified — so I think I’m going to call it Science Fiction.

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