I already liked Leah Bobet. She has blue streaks in her hair, writes about what she does with her farm share box, and she once showed me a yarn shop near Kensington Market where I found the most FABULOUS Noro wool/silk blend. Also, we both happen to be writing books set in Michigan at the moment, and she sometimes posts her word counts on her blog, which is an excellent motivation factor because I wouldn’t want her Michigan novel to grow up faster than mine. I want them to be friends, like we are.
And it’s because we’re friends that I hurried out and bought a copy of Above the week it was released. That’s what you do when you have writer friends with books being released. And if the book is good, that’s a bonus.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Above is good.
It isn’t just good because it’s the story of a boy who is the official storyteller for a band of misfits, beasts, and crazies living in secret passages under Toronto. It isn’t just good because it features a were-bee and a ghost-talker and isn’t afraid to feature characters from a diverse range of backgrounds, races, and cultures (I’m looking at YOU, urban fantasy shelf). It isn’t just good because the characters lose everything, get some of it back, and then aren’t sure they should have.
It’s good because of what it’s about under the surface. What the book is really about creeps up behind you wile you’re busy tearing through paragraphs about fighting shadow monsters in abandoned insane asylums and reads over your shoulder, and then, all of a sudden, it whispers in your ear. Then you close the book for a moment, because it was right there behind you the whole time.
I don’t usually like books because of the message they carry. I like them for their memorable characters and engaging stories. But this message stung me, like a bee-girl who won’t tolerate any more bullshit. It whispered to me, like a ghost-talker with a mission. It messaged me with a grace that is seldom seen amongst the ranks of teen fantasy adventure.
I think I’d better go work on my Michigan novel, if I want it to be cool enough for Leah’s Michigan novel to play with when they’re older.