Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reading Recommendation: FLY BY NIGHT

It took me a while to get into this book, although it may very well have been my mood as much as anything. I can be a very fickle readers sometimes and unable to “settle” into a book. At first, too, I thought it was a bit overwritten, and although the language was beautiful and delightful, it seemed like a littlte too much at first. But then it either faded into the background, or I got use to it, I’m not sure. The author definitely has fun with language.

But more importantly, Mosca Mye is a fabulous heroine! She is complex and flawed and makes many wrong choices and decisions, but each time she makes them the reader can see why she’s made them and would probably have made the same mistakes. If you're looking for strong girl characters, you'll find one in this book.

In fact, all of Hardinge’s characters are complex and fully drawn, and one of the joys of the book is we can’t be sure who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, right up until the end because everyone is so fully dimensional.

The world the author has built is fresh and fun and based on England just at the turn of the 18th century, but altered somewhat to make it less historical and give the book more of a fantasy feel. And I loved Saracen, the heroine’s pet goose.

The plot was complex and twisting and very well done, with many seemingly disparate threads weaving together at the end for a very satisfying conclusion. The author deals with some very sophisticated themes (including politics and, very obtusely, religion) and doesn’t tie everything up too neatly, which I appreciate because I don't care for things that are too pat. One of the themes of the book is thinking for oneself and making up one’s own mind, and the author echoes this in the way that the book ends, while still pulling off a very satisfying ending. One of my favorite lines of all time comes from Mosca at the end, when someone’s trying to talk her into a more sensible life; “I don't want a happily ever after. I want more story,” she thinks. Readers will feel the same way, wanting more stories about Mosca and her adventures.

Between the language and the plot, it is definitely a sophisticated read, not for beginning readers, although they may really enjoy listening to it on tape. I think many adults would enjoy this is well. I know I did.