Sunday, January 20, 2013

Foiled & Curses! Foiled Again by Jane Yolen

Foiled (2010) & Curses! Foiled Again (2013) by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mike Cavallaro

I saw these books come across the desk as holds and really liked the style. When I finally was able to get my hands on them it was definitely worth checking out.

Foiled introduces Aliera Carstairs. She's a teenage girl that doesn't fit in with any particular crowd at school. What does she do? She fences. She's been fencing since she was 11 and, as her coach says, she "will go far." To Aliera, that means Nationals, but it might mean something more... Aside from fencing, Aliera spends her Saturdays with her cousin Caroline playing role-play games. Caroline is confined to a wheelchair, so Aliera's visits help her get in touch with the high school world that she's not a part of. When Aliera meets Avery Castle, she can't help but develop a crush on him, even with that weirdness during the frog dissection. When she goes to meet him on their first date, things start to get strange. Aliera is colorblind, which is incredibly rare in girls (both of her parents would have had to pass on the genetic recessive trait), but when she holds her junk sale foil (a weapon used in fencing) she can suddenly see things in color. A dragon, for instance. Now everything has changed.

Something I liked about Foiled, which is quite noticeable to the reader, is that it's completely monochrome until she begins to see magical things in color. She explains that she's colorblind and says that everything just looks grey. When colors are presented they are rich and vibrant, and I imagine that after not seeing color for your entire life that they would look more vivid than if you were used to seeing them. It was an excellent narrative tool in this graphic novel to distinguish Aliera's ordinary world from the magical elements. Colorblindness being represented isn't something that I see often in books for teens, and the fact that the series features two characters that have disabilities is great, especially since the story focuses on them as people, not as their disability.

Each of the chapters is titled with a fencing term, I'm not entirely sure if the particular term is relevant to the chapter though. I thought that was clever and stressed the significance of fencing in Aliera's life.

If you pick up Foiled, pick up it's sequel: Curses! Foiled Again. The first book is a lot of set-up and introduction to the characters. You could pretty much consider a pre-magical biography of Aliera Carstairs. Yes, when you read Foiled you will not be able to wait for its sequel. Despite the fact that it is obviously set-up to be a series, the first book still is excellent. The second book continues the story and is even more brilliant than the first. It's a fast-paced adventure featuring a strong teenage girl, any reader that likes fantasy and graphic novels would enjoy this series.

WWQFD? (What would Queen Furby do?) She'd read Foiled and Curses! Foiled Again.