I, For One, Am Neither
Imogene Yeck, the star of Charles de Lint’s urban fantasy adventure The Blue Girl is way cooler than I could ever hope to be.
First, her name is way cooler than “Kelly,” which is actually pretty boring. Not only does Imogene absolutely refuse to take, ahem, cow dung from anyone, she has an awesome ability to put together great outfits from thrift store findings and she constantly dyes her hair. And she’s pretty good in a knife fight.
She does what she wants, because she wants to do it—not because anyone else wants her to do it.
At the beginning of the book, Imogene’s family moves to a new town, and she decides to shed her bad girl ways and focus on doing well in school. She meets Maxine, a straight-A student with a restrictive mother, and a ghost named Adrian who seems to have fallen in love with her.
Adrian died in the high school’s parking lot, and the theory is suicide. Imogene befriends him, and is shocked when she learns his fairy friends are real. Unfortunately, in the course of proving their existence to Imogene, they set her in the sights of the soul-sucking creatures called Anamithims.
That isn’t the only nasty prank the fairies have played, either.
With soul-sucking demons essentially hunting her down, Imogene gets really cool. Does she panic? No. Does she freak out, even a little? No? Is she scared for her life? Well, yes. But does she cower in her room, waiting for the end? Of course not!
As I read The Blue Girl, my first thought was “I don’t ever want this book to end.” Charles de Lint knows how to put a sentence together, and each one draws the reader into the next. So my second thought was, “I want to write like him.”
My third thought was, “Man, I wish I were more like Imogene when I was in high school!”
Only a few female characters have made me wish I was more like them (David Weber’s Honor Harrington is one of the others). This is important because it’s so rare to find a strong female character that I can first of all connect to, and second of all use as a role model.
Many female characters, though not necessarily weak, play into cultural and societal stereotypes. More often than not, they are one of two extremes: a girly girl, or a total tomboy. I, for one, am neither of those things, and most other lady folk aren’t like that either. I hate shopping, but that doesn’t mean I wear boy’s clothes.
To find a female character who is real, and strong without being overbearing or, er, female-dog-like (no offense to female dogs), is hard! But Imogene—not to mention Maxine—is. And that, in my opinion, is where the true value of The Blue Girl lies.
Of course, it helps that it has an awesome plot, interesting characters, and tight prose that keeps the story moving, even when the girls are just hanging out at Maxine’s, giggling about the things high school girls giggle about.
One of the book’s pleasures is seeing Maxine break out of her shell and discover who she really is, rather than what her mother tells her to be. Maxine looks up to Imogene, but she doesn’t worship her friend. Because of her intelligence, she helps Imogene out more than once, both academically and while trying to outsmart the Anamithim.
Even Adrian, the weird ghost boy who got Imogene into this whole mess, isn’t so bad. And as much as a dead character can experience growth, he does, and by the end I found I was quite fond of him.
As for those nasty little fairies? Well, now, that’s another matter entirely…
Kelly Lynn Thomas is a writer obsessed with storytelling, tea, and Star Wars. Her day job is newspaper editor, but fiction and travel writing are her first loves. Read more at http://kellylynnthomas.com.