Houghton Mifflin Books For Children, January 3, 2011
Source: NetGalley; ARC provided by Teen Book Scene's booktour
In the year 2098 America isn't so different from the USA of today. But, in a post-9/11 security-obssessed world, "secured" doesn't just refer to borders between countries, it also refer to borders between states. Teenagers still think they know everything, but there is no cure for cancer, as Kelsa knows first-hand from watching her father die.
The night Kelsa buries her father, a boy appears. He claims magic is responsible for the health of Earth, but human damage disrupts its flow. The planet is dying.
Kelsa has the power to reverse the damage, but first she must accept that magic exists and see beyond her own pain in order to heal the planet. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Trickster's Girl is an environmental dystopian sci fi/fantasy set around the year 2100. Kelsa is mourning the death of her father from cancer. She runs into a handsome, but very strange boy who convinces her that the leys, underground rivers of energy, have been damaged and that Kelsa is the person to fix them - by spreading magic dust at the nexus points. It sounds really weird, and I never did fully understand it, but basically, trees worldwide are being destroyed by humans. They have unknowingly messed with the energy that keeps nature going. Since humans broke it, only humans can fix it. Kelsa agrees to help fix the leys.
Raven turns out to be an Indian shape-shifting spirit. A rather arrogant one at that. Kelsa and Raven set off on a journey that takes them from Provo to Montana, Idaho, Canada, and Alaska. Kelsa has to find the perfect nexus points to heal the damaged energy. Unfortunately, there are those who do not want the leys fixed. Kelsa not only has to save the world, so to speak, but make sure she doesn't get killed in the process.
The plot is unusual, and as I said, I never totally "got it," but I was oddly drawn to this book. Kelsa and Raven slowly build a relationship. They start out as a reluctant partnership. Neither trusts the other, and they don't refrain from sniping at each other. But gradually, a friendship builds. It was interesting to see them work together. This book is not a romance. They form a friendship. I was expecting to see this turn into a romance and was a bit disappointed when it never did. The synopsis never indicates that it is a romance, but I just assumed. So don't expect one.
A highlight of Trickster's Girl is the beautiful nature descriptions. In doing research for this book, Hilari Bell traveled from Utah from Alaska. Glaciers, forests, and lakes are all described in a way that I could see them vividly in my mind. I also liked the futuristic setting. The world was just different enough to be interesting (electronic ID cards that everyone carries, flying vehicles), but not so different as to be unrecognizable.
I enjoyed Trickster's Girl. I would have liked it better if the plot had been more understandable and more relatable, but the story was still interesting. I never felt like I was forcing myself to read. The journey that Kelsa and Raven take, as well as their burgeoning friendship made the book a lot of fun, regardless of the plot. I'd recommend Trickster's Girl to anyone who is interested in the environment, futuristic settings, and the outdoors.
Rating: 3 / 5