It’s easy to understand why Twilight author Stephenie Meyer was blurbed on the cover of local author Aprilynne Pike’s new young-adult fantasy novel Wings. Pike has learned a few things from Meyer’s gift for re-inventing a mythology, and added her own intriguing spin.
Her protagonist, Laurel, is a 15-year-old Northern California girl making her first foray into public education after a decade of home schooling. But making friends and doing homework soon become the least of her worries, when she discovers one morning that the blemish in the middle of her back has sprouted into something resembling the petals of a flower, or wings. Soon Laurel learns unbelievable facts about her own history: why she was left on the doorstep of her adoptive parents; why she never seems to bleed; why she can only eat such a restricted diet. Laurel is a faerie. And even faeries have enemies.
Like Meyer, Pike anchors her more fantastical elements in the basic psychology of teenager-hood, including the difficulty of choosing between the nice guy and the mysterious guy. She takes the raw material of faerie stories and incorporates new twists, from the biology of the creatures to tie-ins with trolls and the legend of King Arthur. And she takes it to another level by giving Laurel the kind of Joseph Campbell-approved personal-discovery arc that has fueled everything from Star Wars to Harry Potter. All that, and Pike delivers a satisfyingly propulsive adventure narrative. Catch the Next Big Thing before it catches fire.
Aprilynne Pike: Wings @ The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, Thursday, May 14, 7 p.m. KingsEnglish.Booksense.com