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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

'We're All in This Together'

A while back, I was thinking about Diana Wynne Jones, one of my favorite fantasy writers... and this is my most favorite story shape that she uses. I got to read another and it made me very happy.

Archer's Goon is a great example, and the one I think of first. YA can start, of course, with the alienated kid, all alone, trying to get by. And that can work. Sometimes it's just the setup. Sometimes the story morphs as the kid [or kids] find that they aren't really alone.

I'm not averse to the plucky hero[ine] flying solo. Far from it.

But "we" is community. It is friends and family and allies -- sometimes all of those, sometimes not. This is not the same as a single comrade/ally story [which was Andre Norton's particular favorite], although Diana does those too. Not a sidekick but another companion in misfortune.

I could list the other "we" books, but why spoil them for you?

Do realize that sometimes Diana's work will stealthily become a "we" story. If you look carefully at the cover flap, it may warn you. :>

Archer's Goon says straight up that the family is oppressed. It is one of my very favorites. I read it every other year, I think.

I didn't grow up reading DWJ. I wanted to. I found a story called "The Sage of Theare" and it took me many years, probably fifteen or so, to discover that British authors often ended up in the kids' part of libraries... although by then I owned Power of Three and Charmed Life. I have probably read nearly every book she's written.

(If you HAVE read Archer's Goon, Howl's Moving Castle, and Witch Week, here's a fascinating thesis discussion. Except that Cat is named Eric.)

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