There is this quote by the amazing Joss Whedon that says:
“I am a fan of sequels even though they are inevitably awful.”
Now, Joss was of course speaking about theatrical sequels, but the last four words of his simple statement (they are inevitably awful) are (sadly) more than often true when it comes to literature as well.
These “awful sequels” however do not usually come on the tail of a less than impressive predecessor. Nine times out of ten, if the first book was a flop, you aren’t going to bother yourself with the rest of the series. It’s the amazing FIRST novel that convinces us to keep reading.
There are exceptions to every rule though aren’t there, and “Gold Girl” by Sarah Zettel is not only appropriately titled, but so far superior to it’s matriarch “Dust Girl” that I had a difficult time believing they were even written by the same person.
Here’s the deal. Two fold and up front. I didn’t like “Dust Girl.” If you read my review for it you might have noticed phrases like:
“down right cacophonous”
“a rather catastrophic beginning to a series”
Or the significantly less eloquent… “Hot mess!”
In short, it was a novel jamb packed with awesome stuff with no glue to keep it together. IF I hadn’t already obligated myself to read the THIRD book in the series, I probably wouldn’t have read THIS book. That said, I’m glad I was obligated, because what I found lacking in the first novel, was aptly placed on the first page of “Gold Girl” adding a level of depth and clarification that was absent from (and the eventual downfall of) “Dust Girl.”
Here, let me spell it out for you:
From the outside looking in, this may not look like much, but let me assure you…it is. The problem with book one was that it became very abstract and the main story became harder and harder to find. By the end of the novel, it was all just a bunch of words and circumstances that meant very little and went next to nowhere. This simple opening brought everything back into focus. Set everything back on the rails, and allowed the TRUE story to open on solid ground.
From that moment on, everything changed. The story of Callie and her fight to save her parents, protect her friend, and not lose herself took center stage. Everything else was just a beautiful harmony surrounding it. But enough waxing poetic. Let’s talk about the characters a little since I didn’t really touch on them much in my “Dust Girl” rant.
“Dust Girl” had it’s fair share of supporting characters, (Evil Uncles, Desperate Grandmothers, Duty-bound fairy friends) but none that really expressed the differences between the two fairy courts. In “Golden Girl” the main plot surrounds Callie’s discovery of her parents IN the Seelie court and her plan to rescue them. This small line of discovery opened the door for Zettel and her ability to manipulate multiple characters into existence. There will alway be Callie and her hardworking side-kick Jack. But now there is Ivy Bright, a Hollywood starlet that is much more than she appears. There is also Paul Robeson, who knows more than he should, and a whole handful of Seelie stand-ins. These extra characters (and their connection to the “other side” of the story) opened several doors for growth in both Callie and Jack, but also Callie’s parents and the relationship between the lot of them. They also added an element of emotional drama that (despite the anxiety over her missing parents) was not at all convincing the first go around.
This emotional connection helped further the plot as well. I felt more invested, not as annoyed. I followed the ins and outs of the fairies and their abilities more easily. I started to feel excitement for the next page, not dread. All of these elements rounded out to produce a truly enjoyable sequel. A sequel I firmly believed didn’t have a chance in hell of surviving the sequel-pocolypse.
There was heart. There was action. There was a solid story, with a solid purpose. There were fairies, and deception; body engulfing summons and raging jealousy. THIS was the book that should have opened this series. It made me want to keep reading. It forged a warpath, and I happily marched behind with wishes and hopes for a righteous ending.
So what does all of this mean? It means that if you managed to struggle through the first “American Fairy” novel, you’ll be happy to get your hands on the second.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Sometimes obligations are a gift, not a curse.