I see that there is supposed to be a third book to the series, but there isn't a definite publish date yet, so I'm just going to base my opinions on the first two books.
I haven't been in the mood to write any reviews lately, but a couple opinions popped into my mind while I was reading My Unfair Godmother. And despite the fact that I read the first book, My Fair Godmother a while back, some thoughts are still fresh in my mind. Nonetheless, this post will include a short blurb for each book... well, just because I don't like structure anyway.
As a series overall, these books can be read individually and out of order and everything will still make sense (as much sense as the series' world logic allows us anyway). My personal opinion of the My Fair Godmother series is pretty straight forward: light and breezy cute romance; but at the same time, frustrating as heck.
Both books took me a little while to actually get into. Character introductions and a development of character empathy is really not the strong point of either book considering I hadn't been able to relate with either of the books' main characters or even side characters. They are simply NOT likable characters -- at least not at the beginning. By the end of the book you're admittedly in the "Okay, you guys aren't SO bad" camp even if you don't really fall in love with them.
I believe the phrase is, "I tolerate your existence because the book was still enjoyable enough for me to finish it without too many complaints."
Or something like that.
ANYWAY... a good twenty-five to thirty percent into the book and you're simply reeled into the fairy-tale-esque adventure and magic scenery of the telling. I couldn't possibly tell you why I got hooked (it was probably the adventure and the elements of fairy tale), but it happened despite all the moments where I rolled my eyes or had to question my own suspension of disbelief.
At the very least, both books were rather fast-paced. And if you can manage to ignore the moments of head-desking frustration, then the books are actually pretty cute and not to be taken too critically in analysis. And maybe that's why I managed to enjoy reading the stories even if I had so many issues with the books as entire literary entities. I simply turned off my over-analytical thought processes and told myself that I wasn't even going to bother writing any reviews or opinions. I would read and enjoy and be entertained.
Then I finished reading My Unfair Godmother and decided that I couldn't just let things be as is.
And I then ask myself, "Why do I hate myself so much?"
Anyway, moving along...
Both books center around a rather originally created setting and world where our resident Fair Godmother (not a typo), takes on extra credit projects among mortals in order to earn her way into Fairy Godmother University so that she can become a full-fledged Fairy Godmother. Unfortunately, Chrysanthemum Everstar is (in my most humble opinion) the MOST air-headed, selfish, inconsiderate, incompetent, and stupid fairy creature I've ever had the pleasure of reading about... well, maybe not that extreme, but her antics, rather than being humorous or amusing just strike me as frustrating. No wonder she's having trouble gaining admission into university.
Nevertheless, we get to see her in both books, bumbling our heroine through three wishes which seem to keep landing them in a fictional fairy tale Medieval setting that she didn't ask for. Adventures ensue.
So Savannah's boyfriend dumps her because he's fallen for Savannah's elder sister. In an effort to get back at them for their betrayal, when given the choice to have three wishes from her Fair Godmother, Chrysanthemum Everstar, Savannah chooses to wish for herself a wonderful prince to take her to prom. And of course, if our bumbling Fair Godmother weren't too impatient to care about her subjects, she wouldn't have gotten Savannah landed in one fairy tale after another without a proper happy ending in sight. Transporting her to a fictional fairy-tale Medieval period, Savannah faces being Cinderella to an arrogant, rude, asshole of a "Prince Charming", and then turns into a dim-witted Snow White destined to wed an equally dim-witted prince she's never met whom she immediately takes issue with because he's dim-witted. To top it off, her last wish lands a fellow classmate from her time into a "Prince Charming progression" story line where he's not allowed to go home until he turns into a prince himself. Finally, Savannah decides that she needs to go back to that time period so that she can help him get back home... despite managing to bumble pretty much everything she attempts to accomplish.
I must say, the summary wasn't all that inspiring, but having read Just One Breath by Janette Rallison and finding it rather cute and fun, I was expecting as much from these books. And I like fairy tales too, especially loving any retellings.
And I have a feeling that I might have enjoyed My Fair Godmother given some changes in certain circumstances. And Rallison has a pretty good grasp on corny wit, so some of the humor was decently presented.
But the characters in this book were pretty intolerable.
For one, Savannah is the stereotypical "dumb blonde" format character (even if I'm not sure whether or not she's really blond) show-cased in every teen movie where she's pretty, she's outgoing, and she's loved by all... but she's academically lazy and stupid, her forte is fashions and boys, and she is a bit of a brat. I had trouble relating to her, really -- mostly because she's a spoiled brat.
Secondly, I might have at least liked Jane if she didn't go and practically STEAL her sister's boyfriend effortlessly and without remorse. And Jane was supposed to be the smart and considerate, level-headed one. Jane would normally be the character-type I relate with: academically inclined, a bit nerdy, resourceful, slightly outcasted... the works... But then she started presenting with more or less selfish behavior... which, in hindsight, I can't really fault her for since she stood up and went for what she wanted. It's just... then she got arrogant and skewed logic in her own way so that she wouldn't have to be blamed for stealing her sister's boyfriend.
I'm sure there's a sisterly ethical code somewhere for stuff like that.
And, then Hunter... just... no.
I don't like the message that is given almost immediately in the beginning of the book, just in the prologue alone. I mean, I see what we're going for, but it still doesn't excuse the way it was executed. Hunter and Jane are both smart, college-bound, and sensible people. Hunter dating Savannah might have been an odd coupling, but then again, Hunter is a good looking boy. And the history of YA has told us nothing, if not the fact that good-looking people will always end up together.
But Jane is also a pretty girl who just so happens to hide her image under a nerdy persona. So although she and Hunter have things in common, he doesn't see her.
Now, it was evident that Hunter and Jane would probably end up together at some point... if Hunter wasn't such an image conscious, superficial jerk. He never notices Jane in the "before" phase of her self-make-over (which, kudos to her for making her own Cinderella story happen, btw) and doesn't even know that she's in one of his classes. Even after he starts dating Savannah, he doesn't really pay much heed to Jane. This guy is just all about Savannah. And then Jane changes her appearance to look exactly like the little sister and all of a sudden Hunter likes Jane as more than just friends. On top of that he cheats on Savannah.
Now, I'm all for finding your happiness in life, even if others end up as melancholic casualties in the process. What was meant to be will end up happening and if two people just don't click, then there's no point in forcing it. And apparently, Jane and Hunter just happen to click. But we never get to see whether or not Hunter and Savannah clicked and there was no mention of whether they didn't click. And so what tops the cake is how Hunter and Jane go about as if this situation was evident and Savannah should just get over it and quit being angry and stop giving Jane a hard time.
Um... I'm not one to dwell on relationship woes... but Jane, you stole your sister's boyfriend. And Hunter... you cheated on your girlfriend with her sister. And she's supposed to be magnanimous about that, why? I may not have liked Savannah, but I DO kind of feel that she got screwed on this end of the stick.
But what ends up happening? Aside from a small duration of being rebellious due to anger, Savannah slowly warms up to the idea that maybe she really wasn't right for Hunter and that the two of them would break up eventually and so it was a good idea that Jane took Hunter instead.
I'm not sure how to feel about that, really...
This was all in the first chapter of the book plus the prologue.
In a sense, I really just didn't like any of the characters in this book. And then Tristan gets dragged into the entire deal and would have been the character I liked because, let's be honest here, he's an innocent bystander. But then he started acting all know-it-all, "I'm the manly man of all men and you're just a stupid teenage girl" towards Savannah... and his attitude was just frustrating. To make things worse, Savannah does EXACTLY that stuff -- being a stupid teenage girl who just manages to cause trouble -- to prove that Tristan was right.
We don't even get to see Tristan eat his words, dammit.
Nonetheless, I somehow managed to get myself wrapped in this book, probably due to the fairy tale adventure and a curious need to know how things turn out in the end. But otherwise, not liking any of the characters really DOES make it hard for me to appreciate anything in this book at all despite the breezy, witty way it was written. And now, the more that I write about this book, the more that I realize that my rating might be a bit high for how I felt about the book.
In the end, I guess the simple conclusion would be that, when the book got going, it got somewhat enjoyable, even if not memorable. Once I stopped worrying myself over the characters and just focused on the journey and the adventure, things weren't too bad, and our characters all seemed to make a second impression so that I didn't dislike them as much as I did when the story first started.
So yea... 2.0 Stars.
I'm being generous.
Tansy Miller has had a pretty cruddy situation hitting her in the face. Her parents get a divorce and she feels betrayed by her father so she quits talking to him when he moves away. Then it's her and her little sister and her mother until her sister Kendall becomes famous and starts traveling with their mother to participate in theater performances country-wide. And so Tansy gets shipped to her father's home in a small town where she feels like the black sheep among her father's new family (step-mother and step-brother included). On top of that, she gets on the wrong side of the law when her ex-boyfriend vandalizes a government building "in her honor" and then takes off, leaving her to take responsibility with the police.
Following, her Fair Godmother shows up only to grant a wish bringing a less honorable Robin Hood and his gang of Merry Men into the real world, causing havoc and chaos. Using her second wish to undo what she accidentally wished for, Tansy then, apparently, "thinks hard" about her third wish only to end up as the star-character in the Rumplestiltskin tale so that she can create gold with a touch. Along the way, she learns that the police chief's son, Hudson, had gotten sent to the same fictional Medieval era mistakenly along with Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Again... antics... ensue.
I enjoyed the first parts of this second book a bit better than I did the first book. Tansy was a character with a conflict that's more tangible with bit more depth than Savannah's from book one. Rather than a spurned teenage love, she's dealing with her parents' divorce and all teenage angst of not knowing where she stands in her parents' lives. She's going through that dramatic, teenage rebellious phase where she's reaching out for attention -- Mom is accompanying the little sister, Kendall, and Dad has a new son in step-brother Nick. In those young, fragile, teenage, emo years, to Tansy, it feels like she doesn't really belong with anyone.
And according to her own self-analysis, she'd been looking for love in all the wrong places, hoping that her dead-beat ex-boyfriend had cared about her, because she believes that Mom loves Kendall and Dad loves Nick, so she's left as the lonely outcast. Like I said, fragile, teenage years -- it happens.
"My real problem behind all of this, I decided, was that I kept looking for someone to love me." Now I'm not one who likes to analyze the crap out of things (especially since every quote, gesture, and action during one's youth tends to be over-dramatized), but from this sentence alone, I'm concluding that Tansy is definitely reaching out for attention because she truly believes that there isn't anyone at all who cares about her or loves her. She even believes that her father is looking to get rid of her as soon as he can, because, apparently, when he and her stepmother lose their jobs, they're moving away with her stepbrother Nick, but they're going to ship her off to live with a grandmother who doesn't like people, period.
Way to show your troubled daughter that you care, guys. Mom goes off with little sister to travel the country and dad treats her like she's a nuisance to be gotten rid of.
THIS is the situation that I'm perceiving from the first few chapters. Tansy even voices her opinion aloud that she believes no one cares about her, and no one bothers to contradict her.
Of course, this realistic conflict that Tansy is experiencing ends up being written in such a light tone with jokes and sarcasm and even with Tansy truly acting like she's not a victim that her dilemma gets set aside. Tansy's a bit of a pushover and somehow lets the people around her make her feel like she's useless, stupid, and a troublemaker and that when something goes wrong and she's involved in some way, then it is absolutely her fault, whether or not that's true.
Finally, she actually starts believing that her angst is uncalled for and that it's up to her alone to make something of herself. That she shouldn't have harbored so much resentment towards her father who barely speaks to her unless it's to yell at her for causing trouble -- no, no, that's her fault and she should have known better. That she shouldn't be angry with her mother for abandoning her to traipse the country with her little sister -- no, no, Kendall is young and needs a parent's guidance, so Tansy should have been more understanding.
It was getting a little frustrating, and I almost wanted her to just uproot and leave and be on her own. Maybe she did just need to move on with her life and make something of herself on her own. Sometimes, a person just needs to look out for Number One.
I know all of this sounds like the tantrums of a young teenage drama queen... which is exactly how it's written to sound in the book itself -- that Tansy is just throwing a child's fit and that she needs to just build a bridge, get over it, and stay out of trouble. But what I saw was a troubled teen in need of help and everyone was ignoring her S.O.S., brushing aside all of her claims as simply, "Tansy's just causing trouble again because she's just a troublemaker."
Of course, Tansy doesn't really help me sympathize with her much, because we turn right around and Tansy really DOES end up causing trouble when she gets her wishes granted by the incompetent Chrysanthemum Everstar. So once again, with chaos happening and things going wrong, of course, everything is all Tansy's fault again.
The rest of the story ended up bewitching me when things fell together the way I figured it would. The characters become more tolerable and the adventure started, although Hudson was a bit of a jackass to begin with and I can't imagine how it was possible to fall for a guy like that outside of him saving your life in a Medieval setting -- the dude is kind of an high and mighty, arrogant, "I'm better than you because I'm the police chief's son and a law-abiding citizen, but you're just a teenage troublemaker who's boyfriend vandalizes buildings" type. I kind of wanted to punch him.
Especially with this: Basically, in order to finish her fairy tale and get everyone home, Tansy must end up marrying King John and having his baby (Yeah, thanks for that one Chrissy Everstar). And somehow, Hudson feels like this is an okay deal -- go marry King John, sleep with him and have his baby, is pretty much what Hudson implies; that way, we all get to go home safely.
I... don't see how this is okay no matter what century you live in -- to force a girl to marry a man she doesn't love against her will and have his baby... And that she shouldn't be picky because she likes horrible men anyway.
When is this EVER okay? So Hudson was pretty much on my blacklist throughout the book, even after he turned into "Caring and courageous hero who falls in love with the damsel" and helps Tansy save the day and all that jazz...
Also, despite the fact that Hudson was a jackass from the start, apparently, Tansy couldn't help but fall for him simply because he was good-looking. Sigh... teenagers... really...
"Fairy's side note: Mortal girls will overlook a pinata full of faults if a guy is considerate enough to be handsome." Okay... well, I guess if that's the case then I should stop blacklisting Hudson for being an arrogant jackass, shouldn't I? (Please note the rolling of my eyes...) Although, for a moment, I'm thinking that I might agree with the Fair Godmother observation of mortal girls to an extent... which is just sad since it's probably true.
Later in the book, the characters entered into that "You've become decent people now so I stopped hating you guys" territory when the Medieval adventures started, so I finally got into the book and found it enjoyable enough to finish. But nothing outstanding really stands out in the rest of the book, but the ending was a nice little "Happily ever after..."
So once again, 2.0 Stars. Because it wasn't completely atrocious.
In the end, I guess it was the same factors in both books that got on my nerves. The characters were introduced in ways that made me want to kick walls. The conflicts taking place in the more realistic contemporary portion of the book got brushed off so that we could make haste into our heroine's bumbled wish granting. And then those conflicts got shunted aside altogether when the heroine learns that she needs to be the bigger person and move on and make better decisions in life. It's a great moral, really... that sometimes you just need to move on with your life: You know, bridge... water under it... whatevs. Life's too short to dwell on the people who treat you wrong or the conflicts that are petty, right?
But that doesn't make me dislike the other characters around the heroine any less.
Savannah's sister and ex-boyfriend never once seem to feel sorry for cheating behind her back. And making Savannah a young, impressionable brat with no ambition and nothing in common with Hunter or Jane doesn't make the betrayal okay. Making her feel like she's in the wrong for being angry and unforgiving doesn't make Hunter or Jane anymore justified and just made me frustrated with them. And then making Jane continue to lord over Savannah about being smarter and more superior really just made me dislike this elder sister even more. Which is interesting, considering the fact that the character of Jane (smart, resourceful, level-headed...) is usually the type of main character I root for... but she turned into one I just wanted to go away.
Tansy's family never once tries to reach out to her about her being troubled or feeling lonely and unloved. Her father simply just yells at her, ignores her and grounds her and then moves on while planning his move away from town with his stepson in tow while sending Tansy away because they wouldn't be able to afford raising two kids together... Her mother abandons her to take care of the little sister and never once seems to appear in any part of the book except to call to yell at Tansy for getting into trouble. And the police have already decided that she wasn't at fault in the vandalism, but they're going to treat her like a juvenile felon anyway. Tansy's "troublemaker" status doesn't make her feelings of abandonment go away nor does it make her cry for help through attention any less significant. I'm thinking it's not okay for the adults around to brush off her feelings to seem like she's just throwing a child's tantrum.
But apparently the moral of the story is, if you feel that you've been wrong, it must have been deserved and you need to get over it and not cause trouble for anyone else and find out how to make your life better for you. Or something like that.