Wings (2009) is Aprilynne Pike‘s debut novel. The first thing to know about it is that the idea has been thrown around that Wings might possibly be the next Twilight. I have my own varied and complex issues with Twilight but I can see the connection. The tone, protagonist, and a lot of other things are very different. But the general "vibe" of the two books are strikingly similar. The jacket praise from Stephenie Meyer also helps.* That said, if you loved Twilight, you should read this book. If you hated it, or if you wanted to like it but couldn't, you should also read this book. Finally, if you are with me in being on Team Jacob, you must read this book for reasons that will become apparent as the story progresses.**
Onward . . .
For the most part Laurel is your average fifteen-year-old girl. Yes she is lithe, agile, and movie star pretty. And yes, she was dropped on her parents' doorstep in a basket when she was three. And no she does not have an eating disorder, just unique eating habits. Nothing especially exceptional there. At least not until Laurel's back sprouts a mysterious set of wings.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The story starts when Laurel and her parents leave their super small town for a small town. In addition to moving, Laurel also has to adjust to going to public school after ten years of homeschooling. Then, of course, there is the issue of the wings to contend with.
Understandably thrown by this development, Laurel turns to her new friend David to figure out what's going on. Afraid of becoming a walking, talking experiment, Laurel keeps the wings under wraps with David's help as they try to figure out what exactly is going on. This crisis makes the sale of her family's homestead seem rather mundane–even if the buyer, Mr. Barnes, seems unaccountably sinister.
However, as Laurel learns more about her wings and her home, it becomes apparent that the two events are intimately linked both to Laurel and Tamani, the mysterious faerie living on her family's land with his own shocking revelations about Laurel's current situation . . . and her past.
When I first started Wings, I wasn't sure how I felt about Laurel. Narrated in the third person, the story mentions early on that Laurel has no problem looking different (really pretty) compared to everyone else–a comment that rubbed me the wrong way. However, as the plot moved forward and I got to know Laurel better, she grew on me. The story, which was slow to get to the action, picked up at around the same time. By the end of the book I was a fan of both the story and Laurel.***
Some reviews have argued that the crux of the plot is slow in coming and tagged on to the end of the novel. I would counter that said readers were merely not paying attention to Pike's foreshadowing. I will grant that the novel was depopulated of ancillary characters, but Pike does a lot with the characters she does have, providing well-described and authentic companions for Laurel.
I'm a big fan of traditional fairy stories, but I also really enjoyed the spin that Pike takes on the usual fairy lore here. In addition to creating an utterly novel mythology surrounding fairies (and other mythical creatures), Pike explains all of her "facts"–something that is crucial to making a rich, vivid story.
* The praise from Meyer is actually more than strategic marketing. If you read the acknowledgments, Pike gives a special thank you to Stephenie which suggests that the authors do really know each other. Plus, I totally agree with Meyer's statement about the "ingenuity" and "loveliness" of this book.
** Okay, I'll give you one hint: Tamani, to me, has a lot in common with everyone's favorite werewolf.
*** I didn't love the "love triangle" aspect but for me that was more because there was never any contest to who I would rather hang out with. Maybe that's me . . .
(Totally Unrelated: I'm kind of feeling talkative and wanted to say that I really thought the cover by Ray Shappell was a clever, fun tie-in to the actual plot of the book even though my mom didn't like it.)
Possible Pairings: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde, Generation Dead Daniel Waters.
Review courtesy of [...] I bought this book because Stephenie Meyer told me to. Or at least that's how I translated her cover endorsement, "A remarkable debut." Stephenie is the reason I found out about the phenomenal Hunger Games, so I take her book recommendations seriously. And once again I'm glad I did. Wings is a sweet love story about fifteen year old Laurel, who moves to a new town, meets the affable David, and finds out she is a fairy. When … more
Wings is the debut novel of Aprilynne Pike. In it we are introduced to Laurel - a not-so-human girl who discovers that she is a fairy who has been sent by the fae to live among humans to guard one of the gateways to Avalon. Little does Laurel know that there are other dangerous beings also trying to find this magical gateway which places her and her human family in real danger. Luckily for her she is not alone as she discovers more and more about who and what she is. David - the cute boy from school, … more
was unimpressed by this debut novel. I seriously don't get why it's on the best seller's list. The first few hundred pages were boring. I found it hard to keep my attention on the novel. I kept putting it down and I only finished it because I was mildly curious to see if it would get better (and it didn't). I can see why fans of the Twilight Saga will like this book. Laurel, like Bella, is an empty vessel into which teen girls can project themselves. … more
Stephanie Meyer's endorsement figures prominently on the cover of this book, and I think that says more about the book than I possibly could. I haven't read Twilight, but WINGS does remind me of Meyer's adult novel, The Host. In both novels, the reader gets lost in the realism of the characters and forgets about the completely mythical setting. I haven't read her Twilight series, but from what I understand, there's a fair about of romantic yearning. … more
Laurel is a 15 year old girl who just moved to a new city. She is attending public school for the first time after being home schooled by her mother all of her life. Her mom and dad think it is time for her to meet new people and experience school life, Laurel doesn't agree. But within a few awkward days she meets a few people she really likes and starts developing friendships. There are a few things that make Laurel unique, the fact that she was adopted after being … more
Laurel has always been a little different. A strict vegan and model pretty, Laurel would rather relax outside in the sun than be imprisoned indoors. But moving from small town and familiar Orick to Brookings, she has to attend public school with its claustrophobic rooms and uncomfortable lighting. Just when she starts to blend in, something small turns into something startlingly abnormal, a shocking part of her and her unknown heritage that shakes her world. This is when Laurel learns just how unique … more
Laurel has always felt different--she only eats fruits and a few vegetables, and she's most happy in the woods surrounding her home, where her parents have brought her up and homeschooled her. She chafes at being forced to go to public school for the first time in her life and at being cooped up indoors, but finds that her days are made bearable by her new friendship with David. David truly understands her, and she enjoys being with him. But then one day, a bump on Laurel's … more