Friday, May 4, 2012
On Pencils: A Review of Daphne and the Mysterious Girls Secret Bathroom Society
In the interest of absolute, full disclosure, I must admit that I don't think that I'm at all the target audience of this book. The characters are younger teens (14 I think?) and perhaps on the immature side of that. So a lot of their behavior was baffling and irritating to my 20 something mind. Apparently I'm growing out of touch. Who knew? I really should have figured this out before agreeing to read and review it.
That said, not every problem with this book can be blamed on the age gap, and I'll get to my issues momentarily. First, the plot summary. Daphne find out that magic is real. Only girls are supposed to have it, and they access it by making motions specific to each of them (nose twitching, foot tapping, etc.) and saying some funny words. Daphne's enemy at school, Vi, is also a witch. As are most of the girls. In a series of random info-dumps, we learn that men used to have power as wizards, but then all wizards were whipped out, and should they pop up again we all have to be very afraid of them. Oh, and Daphne has a crush on a boy named Kyle. Guess what happens next?
The premise is undeniably humorous. I did laugh out loud several times.
Daphne has a hamster named Mr. Nibbles, and I'm very fond of hamsters.
This book made me hate words. Like "Ticonderoga" and "Inertia". I utterly despise the term "knockers" now. Shield's writing style is clumsy, with awkward syntax and the repeated use of words that simply should not be repeated.
The world building is vague and flimsy. Hey, there's magic! You can do anything with it! You can teleport and freeze people and shapeshift to look like other people and...What are the rules? What are the inherent restrictions in this "magic"? Why isn't anyone using it to cure cancer or solve world hunger? Why the gender bias? None of this makes any sense! On top of this, all attempts at world building involve info-dumping via a red book with magic invisible writing...
And I think every girl is supposed to have her own red book, but early in the story, one girl's book is stolen. Why steal something like that? And when an adult witch sees the drama over the stolen book, she let's the thief keep it, binding it to her magically. Wha? Huh? Why...
The adult behavior is perhaps more baffling than the children's. They basically say "Oh, hey, you all have magic. You know what you should do? Form a club to govern you. Make your own damn decisions. We adults have better things to do, and you can't be in our coven anymore!" Because if there's one thing fourteen year old girls are good at, it's coming together as a group to make fair and rational decisions. And you know, it's not like they have some kind of real power to affect the world in potentially devastating ways--oh wait, they do!
The dialogue is bad. Go ahead, say "Knockers" one more time. It just gets funnier and funnier.
The character interactions are bad. There's one girl who has to grab her chest in order to cast a spell, because that's her witch "motion", and they take great pains to point it out repeatedly. Oh, and at one point a girls slaps Daphne's butt, and Daphne tries to slap her back. Real nice.
The characters are unlikeable. Daphne is a magic idiot savant, because, you know, she's the main character. I saw no emotion and no development in her that remotely endeared her to me.
If you want something that's "So bad it's hilarious" this might be a good pick. Or, I might recommend this to very young or inexperienced readers. But in reality, no, I don't suggest reading this. 1 star.
Buy from Amazon: Daphne and The Mysterious Girls Secret Bathroom Society