Monday 30 July 2012

The Goose Girl review

The Goose Girl
Shannon Hale
August 8th 2003

Anidora-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kilindree, spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt's incredible stories, and learning the language of the birds. Little knowing how valuable her aunt's strange knowledge would prove to be when she grew older.

From the Grimm's fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become a queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must understand her own incredible talents before she can overcome those who wish her harm.

Shannon Hale has drawn on her incredible gift for storytelling to create a powerful and magical grown-up fairytale.

The Goose Girl was actually fantastic. I don't think I went into it expecting much, because seeing as it came out about 9 years ago, it's not one that I've seen hyped up a lot lately. It's kind of freeing, just reading a random book that you picked up without having any pressure to love it from other people who just hype stuff up all the time, you know? But I mostly picked it up because I'd never seen it in a book shop before, and I'd heard a lot of awesome things about Shannon Hale, and I just wanted to read something different, I guess. And I think I may have become a tiny bit of a Shannon Hale fan along the way. Seriously, though, I want to read all of her books, like, now. I only wish I was exaggerating.

The story was fairly slow to start, and it kind of kept that slow pace, but it actually felt pretty natural and I didn't find myself having a problem with it at all. In fact, I read it fairly quickly for me, because it gave me a lot more time to become acquainted with all of the characters, Ani in particular, and actually become wholly invested in their stories. Another weird thing for me with it is that I was mostly so into it because of Ani's character arc. In fantasy stories, it's not usually the character development that keeps me reading, but then again, the action was fairly slow to happen in this book (partially because of the character development, I think) that it's Ani becoming a better, stronger person that is really the main focus of the story.

As I kind of just said, I really, really liked Ani. I wasn't that keen on her at first, to be honest, because after the first chapter which kind of goes over her childhood, you see her as a sort of lost 15/16 year old who's the Crown Princess and has this whole identity and status to live up to, but doesn't quite match up to her own expectations about who she should be, and (to me) the book is, more than anything, about her having the freedom to be able to become who she wants to be. Which, when I say it, sounds like kind of a simple thing (apologies for all the fillers), but for Ani, it was probably the biggest issue she had to face. And Selia (Ani's Ex-Lady-in-Waiting/Crazy Lady) doing what she did to Ani was probably inadvertently the best thing that ever happened to her. If Ani had never been the Goose Girl and lived with the freedom of not having to live up to the constraints of her title, she would've just been the same to everyone else as Selia had been when she was taking her place. I think that makes sense?

I also really liked the whole idea of some people being born with a 'word on their tongues', so some people have different kinds of gifts like people-speaking, or animal-speaking. I thought that the way Hale handled the act of talking to animals was really interesting, too, mainly because it wasn't an instinctive thing. It wasn't like Dr Doolittle or anything where you just speak out loud and all the animals understand you and you understand them. It was about actually taking the time to understand how the animals communitcated, and understanding the meaning of all the sounds and body language, and I don't know, that just seemed really cool to me. I also really feel a need to at least mention Falada in this review (Falada is a horse.) I just wish that people never put horses in books, because bad things ALWAYS happen to them and I just can't handle it. I was not expecting to cry while reading this book, and then there was a horse that had a strong connection to the main character and I just knew that that was not going to end well. Honestly, how many books have you read with a horse as an important character that ends with the horse being well and happy at the end of it. I'll answer it for you, probably about, like, 2. Because for some reason horses have just become the default animal in fiction (0r dogs) that people like to do horrible things to in order to make the reader cry. Well, just stop, okay. I like horses. I would like people to stop making horses into tools for making people sad. LEAVE THE FICTIONAL HORSES ALONE, GUYS. WHAT DID THEY EVER DO TO YOU.

*Ahem*. It appears that I'm never going to be able to write a review of a book I really like without having some kind of Caps Lock-based emotional outburst. On a different note, can I just say how truly satisfying it is to read a book that has the actual words, THE END, at the end of it. So that you can actually finish a book and sit there and think, 'gee, that book sure had a great feeling of closure at the end of it!'. Because in this strange and dark time of series's, it is a rare thing to find a standalone. And look, I had to go all the way back to 2003 to find one! Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but you know what I'm getting it. It's awesome to just read a book sometimes that has an actual ending that isn't a cliffhanger. And I know that not all series's end with cliffhangers, because Harry Potter doesn't! Sorry, again, I just really hate cliffhangers, and I', just really glad that this book didn't have one. And I know that it's kind of part of a series, but they're companion novels so it doesn't count.

The Goose Girl is a really, really great fantasy that has some of the best character development I've ever come across, as well as one of the best characters, and I just really liked everything about it. If you like fantasy and you haven't read this one yet, I highly suggest you check it out, as well as if you like books with kind of a fairy-tale feel to them.

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