Monday, September 22, 2008

Fly By Night


by Frances Hardinge

Mosca Mye has a pretty hard life. Her parents are dead; while alive her father was a radical; her uncle mistreats her; and (worst of all) in a world where it is forbidden, she can read. She doesn't really have much hope until one day when a stranger shows up in town. This stranger can spin words unlike nothing Mosca has ever seen and she decides to set him free (he's been arrested) and set off to work with him. Once they've escaped they become involved in a fairly complex plot which includes spying, animal fights, an illegal printing press, and possibly the fate of a nation.

I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I debated writing a review at all. I enjoyed the language/writing of the story - it's beautiful - and I enjoyed the heart of the story. However, the story gets really bogged down with all of the political talk. I love politics both in real life and books. I think it's fascinating watching how one little thing over here can have huge consequences over there, but in this story I just couldn't follow what was happening. I felt like I had too little and too much info at the same time. Too little info for what was being given to me, yet the information I was given was almost overwhelming and bogged down the story a lot.

I also thought it was strange that one of the main themes of this book was against the suppression of facts, specifically through banning books and making it illegal (or something) to read that so many of the characters could read. Other than the people in Mosca's uncle's village, I think every character we met could read. If this is the case, why was Mosca ostracized for this "rare" ability?

Like I said above. When I wasn't bogged down trying to figure out what on earth was actually happening, I enjoyed the story. Mosca had a lot of spunk, and though I disagreed with most of her actions, I thought she was a fun character to follow. I also loved (loved, loved) her pet goose Saracen. He's hilarious. He doesn't talk, and really isn't a prominent character, but when he is doing his part, he does it well.

I'll end with a couple of my favorite bookish quotes from this story filled with them:

"Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad." (p 15)

"Words were dangerous when loosed. They were more powerful than cannon and more unpredictable than storms. They could turn men's heads inside out and wrap their destinies. They could pick up kingdoms and shake them until they rattled. And this was a good thing, a wonderful thing. . ." (p 479-480)

probably 3 out of 5 stars

3 comments:

Jeane said...

It sounds like a good story, but I think the politics would bog me down, too.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I think I'll skip this one but man, that cover is awesome!

Susan said...

I wasn't sure how I felt about this one either. The writing is very good, but the plot is just way too confusing. I loved Saracen, too!