Review: Trickster’s Girl

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Trickster’s GirlTrickster's Girl by Hilari Bell
Series: Raven Duet #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on January 3, 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Mythology, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: NetGalley

In the year 2098 America isn't so different from the USA of today. But, in a post-9/11 security-obssessed world, "secured" doesn't just refer to borders between countries, it also refer to borders between states. Teenagers still think they know everything, but there is no cure for cancer, as Kelsa knows first-hand from watching her father die.

The night Kelsa buries her father, a boy appears. He claims magic is responsible for the health of Earth, but human damage disrupts its flow. The planet is dying.

Kelsa has the powers to reverse the damage, but first she must accept that magic exists and see beyond her own pain in order to heal the planet.

Trickster’s Girl is not like the average young adult fantasy. For one thing, there’s no romance. The whole book is very focused on the quest and on saving the environment. Although Raven is hot, he is demonstrably not human.

Similarly, Kelsa does not constantly rely on him to save her. She is no Bella Swan, constantly tripping and needing to be carried. He saves her sometimes, but there are even more times where she saves herself or she saves him. I really loved that aspect of Trickster’s Girl. Kelsa doesn’t kick ass; she’s a normal girl, but she can take care of herself. She makes a lot of the big decisions and reacts maturely to most of the situations in which she finds herself. Kelsa is, despite the running away from home to troop around a couple countries with a supernatural guy she barely knows, a fairly good role model.

The best part for me was the view into the future Bell has created here. The book is set a minimum of 85 years in the future, as Kelsa sees graffiti from 2094. America is, unsurprisingly, a bit different. There are some cool new technologies, like cars that hover a little bit off the ground and electric vehicles. On the converse side, there are numerous references to the damage to the environment done by humans, such as the bioplague wiping out the rainforest in South America. One really cool aspect is the description of how the new swear words developed, so watch for that. Also some dystopian elements, which I loved of course!

The quest itself is a neat idea, what with the environmental impact and all of that. Still, the way she healed the ley line was so incredibly lame. She would toss a pinch of dust and recite an incantation/ode to some element of nature: glaciers, trees, animals, etc. This does pay homage to the medicine man and perhaps resemble an Indian ritual of some sort (I confess that I do not know), but, either way, the incantations are super stupid. They just don’t seem earth-changing.

The writing of the book was quite good, except for the aforementioned incantations and Bell’s repetitiveness with regards to Kelsa’s opinions of Raven. A sequel is in the works, currently titled Traitor’s Son, for which I will be on the lookout.

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