Shortly after the CSFF Blog Tour for R. J. Anderson‘s first novel, Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter, I lent my copy to a friend who writes YA fantasy. She’s even written a faery story though it hasn’t found a publishing home. I knew she’d be interested in reading a story about Knife and the faeries without magic.
When our next writer get-together drew near, I asked for the book back because a couple other people were in line to read it. Lo and behold, my friend had started it, but her target-audience daughter snatched it up and devoured it instead. In fact, my friend reported how on pins and needles said daughter was, waiting for Wayfarer.
Thinking that I’d be through with the Children’s Book Blog Tour (I got my dates wrong), I’d said I would pass along my ARC in exchange for the first book. Oh, woe! I feel like I’ve disappointed this eager reader!
But here’s the point. Too often when I’m doing reviews, I lose sight of the target audience. I formulate my opinion based on my likes and dislikes, my expectations and interests, my writing style preferences. I try not to, but it happens. Then I encounter the raw enthusiasm of a reader in love with a new world she’s discovered, and I realize, as much as I may have liked Wayfarer (and I DID), it pales in comparison to the joy a target-audience reader will experience.
Stories like the ones the talented R. J. Anderson has written spark something in young readers, I think. They stretch the world and make all things seem possible. They create mystery but also throw down the gauntlet of becoming to those moving toward adulthood.
A young person can grow to be selfish, using others and protecting self, or he can grow to be sacrificial, helping others and giving himself away. Anderson paints the contrasts clearly and even paints the risks of sacrifice accurately. Good choices aren’t necessarily happy choices. They usually cost.
But when a character a reader loves makes the good choice, somehow that reader, especially that young reader, is ennobled. Suddenly, the idea that sacrifice and selflessness can be achieved and will make a difference seems like an idea for today, for now, for the young as much as for the old.
That’s when stories take on power. That’s when they become much more than entertainment, much more than enjoyable.
That’s the kind of book I believe Wayfarer is.
See what others on the CBBT circuit think:
Special thanks to HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, for supplying me with a review copy of Wayfarer.