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04 April 2006


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I thought you might be interested in this NYT article about two of the more popular YA series out there for girls, Clique and Gossip Girls. It's kind of old (Mar 12) so I apologise if you've already seen it.


James Morrison

I have to say (and I haven't read any of them for a looooong time) that I really enjoyed the first, the second was kinda OK, and the third... Very much a case of diminishing returns. It felt as though McCaffrey was so in love with her own creations that she couldn't understand why anyone else wouldn't fall for their charms, even though she put no effort into developing those charms on the page. But the first book was still really good.


Interesting question. I've actually been thinking at times of my recent grad school decisions in terms of Dragonsinger - would I be willing to do something like that, leave everything I know (in my case, positive things) to go to school somewhere unknown, and and then go who-knows-where to get a job after that? So to me, the book is still very much relevant - I read it for the first time when I was 13 or so.

As to diminishing returns - I think the "problem" (which I see as actually one of the hallmarks of McCaffrey's writing) is the high level of intertextuality of Dragondrums. The first two can mostly be read in isolation (only one tends to think, who's Brekke to be such a big deal in Menolly's lizard-vision?), but the third gets into a lot of planet-wide politics that make more sense if you've already read some of the adult novels. On the other hand, it's the only place that we see Mirrim's Impression of Path, which is assumed in The White Dragon, so in a way it's also a prerequisite for reading the third adult novel! To me, such tangles, which require a bit of time-travel on the part of the reader, are a neat reflection of the actual time travel that goes on in the books.

Hmm, maybe my next close reading should be a Pern one. :)


I just re-read the second this morning, actually -- we'll see if I actually get around to writing it up... (My To Be Reviewed pile is starting to teeter...)

Leaving the known and leaping into the unknown -- I don't think I could do it. Even before I was married and somewhat settled down, I mean. I remember that From the Mixed up Files... always appealed to me because they were running TO somewhere, rather than AWAY from somewhere.

In Menolly's case, sure -- she wasn't just leaving, she was escaping. Living alone in a cave, being out and about during Threadfall -- that was preferable to staying at Half-Circle. So for her, I don't think it was much of a choice. I'm too much of a coward to do something like that in real life.

Without getting into Dragonsinger too much, I will say that the more McCaffrey I re-read, the more I want. She's a bit like lime Tostitos.

(So much so that I've started getting worried that my library doesn't have the earlier grown-up books -- which, as I remember, are the especially good ones.) I suspect that she'll be somewhere on my end-of-the-year list.


Apparently, so am I. But I wish I wasn't. We'll just see when it comes to academic jobhunting - at least, unlike the harper journeymen, I don't have to pack before I know where I'll be going.

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