This new trilogy will capture the hearts of readers who adore Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series. Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she's never met. Lately, all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in "the golden hills of the west" (California). Along the way, she meets Jack, a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company—there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there's also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.
Dust Girl (The American Fairy Trilogy #1)Featured
I don't know how I didn't read this one earlier. I heard about it and was excited, but somehow it just slipped down my TBR pile and boy am I regretting it. I love how different Sarah Zettel's fairies are. While there are the common features, there are also different features that her fairies have. I am very eager to learn more about them in the books sequel, Golden Girl.
I am really hoping for a lot more answers in the sequel. Dust Girl lays the foundation for a lot of big questions, so I cannot wait to find out all the answers. I was left a little confused at times, since I was not really sure going on. This was particularly true at the story's end since a lot happens in a short period of time. There is a prophecy and two sides fighting for the same girl. I never was really sure where my loyalties should lie and Sarah Zettel managed to keep my clueless as to the villain was right up until the reveal. I had not a clue and that rarely happens.
Both Callie and Jack are great main characters - I am excited to see what happens with their story next. Callie is biracial and while it leaves her with insecurities, I love that she doesn't let it overcome her life, even though she mentions that others like her may.
I cannot wait to pick up Golden Girl and follow Callie and Jack's story immediately to get more adventure and find some answers. Fans of Leah Cypess or Esther Freisner will adore this stunning story from Sarah Zettel.
Though it was pretty evident from the opening that this was perhaps not the book for me, I persisted on and didn't DNF, because there were some good things about the book. For one thing, I was seriously impressed by Zettel's writing. Dust Girl manages to be very southern without being obnoxious to me at all. Zettel keeps her dialect to a minimum, using it subtly. Even her non-dialect language has a rather southern feel to it, accomplishing the precise mood and tone without making me want to attempt a lobotomy upon myself.
The only thing about the writing I wasn't sure about was a stylistic choice. Zettel chose to write the story in the past tense, occasionally interjecting a monologue from future Callie into the story. There would be an analysis of how Callie felt in a situation, followed by something to the effect of 'but I didn't know that at the time.' This always left me feeling as though Zettel was trying to explain concepts and motivations to me she felt I wasn't clever to grasp without her heavy-handed assistance. I generally find this method of story-telling to be tricky and a bit overdone, and I thought it was especially clunky here, although perhaps this was fixed in the final version.
The other awesome thing about this story was how unlike anything else I've read it was. There might be moments where I thought of some other fiction, but the compilation of these moments and all of the other moments were something brand new. These faeries are familiar, but they are Zettel's own. Oh, and, adding to the originality, is the diversity in the book. I feel like I shouldn't have to issue mad props everytime I read a book with a non-white main character, but I do. Callie is a mixed race child (whatever we ultimately decide her race to be).
However, the big drawback for the book, the aspect that left me constantly going "WTF!!!!!" as I read, was the fact that I never had a freaking clue what was happening. There are books that surprise me, that do unexpected things, but I have rarely felt as completely lost in a narrative as I did in Dust Girl. Things would happen, and then some more things. I never felt like I had any sense of a direction the story was heading in or like that was an issue with me as a reader. There just wasn't a feeling of a story arc. Mostly, it felt like I was being pulled along for the ride, bumping roughly and suddenly over obstacles I couldn't possibly have seen coming.
I really can't recommend or condemn this book. Some readers will no doubt love it, because it was in pretty much every way a wholly unique reading experience. Others, though, will be entirely frustrated by that adrift feeling that it leaves you with. I didn't dislike the book, but I'm also not invested enough to continue on with the series.
One of the things I noticed right away was the original setting. I can only recall reading one other book set in the Dust Bowl during the early 1900s. I think this is partly because of the difficulty with describing the setting in historically accurate detail. Now, take that insanely challenging setting and imagine adding a paranormal twist. That is a pretty hefty challenge for an author. Did the author pull it off? I think so. There were many subtle details that I recalled learning from my history classes and other historical books along the way (yeah, I’m a nerd like that). There were also new details that I had never heard about before. I had fun learning something new from a fictional story. (You know I looked those details up to check the accuracy! That’s the teacher in me.)
I also enjoyed the characters. Callie is bi-racial during a time when that was not socially acceptable. Her father was a black Jazz musician, or so she thought, while her mother was a white hotel worker. What Callie doesn’t realize is that the term “bi-racial” takes on a whole new meaning for her because her father is actually a Fae prince. Dun dun dun… Cue the drama. I can’t mention much of the role her father and his people have in the story because that is the majority of the conflict, but I can say how much I enjoyed that slowly developing conflict. I had the chance to meet many interesting characters in this story. I just wish I could have spent more time with some of them. (I guess that’s what book 2 is for.)
Finally, I really enjoyed the subtle mythology in this story. I think Native American mythology is not represented enough. So when a character that resembled Coyote made an appearance, I was instantly intrigued. The only thing I wondered about was that Coyote is typically described as a trickster, but the character that represented Coyote did not appear to fit that mold. Makes me wonder what will happen as this story develops more.
If you want a book that wraps up tightly and leaves you well satisfied, you should probably skip this one. There is a cliff hanger ending that left me with a lot of questions. I enjoyed my time reading through this story because the author has a great writing style. It’s very conversational in tone, which made it a smooth read.