|The Mighty Miss Malone|
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Wendy Lamb Books, 2012
The girl on this cover spends no time feeling sorry for herself. She is not to be trifled with. This girl isn't afraid to break the rules, if it means doing the right thing. She talks back to adults and knows more about life than most girls her age. She is eternally optimistic, strong and resilient. Can't you tell?
I wrote that having not yet read this novel, and with only a scant idea of the book's premise. I wrote it before reading this lukewarm-at-best review
by Betsy Bird at the Fuse #8 Production blog. Apparently, Deza isn't quite as take-charge as the cover image suggests.
But I still love this cover. The muted blue-green background and the luminosity of Deza's skin jump out at you from across the bookstore. The way she is turning back to give you that Look--irresistible. Maybe she's about to tell you something. Maybe she doesn't have to tell you; maybe you just know from her expression.
Even if this model does have elastic in her sleeves, which, according to Betsy's source, would be unlikely during the Depression, I still love this cover. (Why not? Elastic has been used in garment construction since the 1820s. Was it scarce? Too expensive?)
I'll even go so far as to say that I'm not sure there's elastic in there, anyway--the sleeve could be gathered with a tied cord which isn't very visible under the author's name. No? Look at the photo on the Audiobook download edition, where the sleeve hem is more visible. I can't tell for sure.
Enough about elastic.
Except, did you know that Samuel Clemens invented and patented an elastic bra strap
OK, no more elastic. Instead, this question for you, readers:
- Have you read The Mighty Miss Malone yet? What's your take on Deza? Does the cover do her justice?
Unless Bella was backed by her army of bloodsuckers, the answer is clearly Katniss.
That's why I found it amusing when this week's EW posed the question, "Is This the Next TWILIGHT?" (The "this" being THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy, of course.) There's a cute blue call out that says "A Trilogy Takes Off!" in some kind of font leftover from the late '70s. EW bases their valuation on the number of copies MOCKINGJAY, the third installment in Suzanne Collins's bestselling trilogy, moved its first week. They quote the incomparable David Levithan as saying, "Book 3 was the breakthrough book for HARRY POTTER and TWILIGHT, too. We're hitting right on schedule."
And okay, I get that EW is really making a comparison based on book sales, Hollywood adaptations, and fan reaction to both series. But as someone who absolutely loved THE HUNGER GAMES and positively loathed TWILIGHT, I still take offense.
In response, I decided to offer three major reasons why THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy is nothing like the TWILIGHT one:
1. Suzanne Collins can actually write. I read an interview with Stephanie Meyer (in, EW, actually), where the author says something like, "I'm a storyteller, not a writer," and then went on to say how she was trying to learn to be a better writer. And for about thirteen seconds, I felt bad for her. There has been a ton of ink spilled about just how bad a writer Meyer truly is, and even I can admit that the premise for the TWILIGHT books is sexy and appealing to teens. But then I remembered that she's a gajillionaire, and my empathy went out the window.
I often quote TWILIGHT in my creative writing classes as examples of what not to do. My favorite is using it to illustrate that concept that adverbs are not your friends. I say, "If two people are having a conversation, you really don't need to use the word 'conversationally' in the speech tag. 'Blah blah blah,' she said, conversationally. Really? They're having a conversation and she said it conversationally? Oh, well, that totally changes my perception."
2. Katniss Everdeen doesn't need a boyfriend to feel good about herself. I could probably tolerate the bad writing in TWILIGHT if the story itself was good enough. But I'm someone who's very attracted to character-driven novels, and I. Hate. Bella. Swan. From the very first installment, Bella is portrayed as kind of a sad-sack beyotch who gets annoyed because there's a girl at her new school that really wants to be her friend (Jessica) and a boy who really wants to date her (Mike). And then, of course, she falls for Edward, and it's EDWARD EDWARD EDWARD until the book is over. Then I made the mistake of reading NEW MOON, in which Bella spends most of the novel in a deep, deep depression because she can't be with Edward. And when I say most of the book, I'm talking hundreds of pages of moping, not wanting to leave the house, not wanting to do ANYTHING except weep over WHY, EDWARD, WHY?
Katniss Everdeen would rather shoot an arrow into her own head than engage in that kind of behavior. While there was a lot of debate amongst fans over Team Gale or Team Peeta, Katniss herself cared more about the boys' friendship than whether or not they were going to take her to the prom. She was more concerned about making sure their families were safe than whether or not she would age faster than her BF. And granted, THE HUNGER GAMES is set in a postapocalyptic world instead of a rainy one infested with evil vampires, less-evil vamps, and nice Native Americans who turn into werewolves, but still. Katniss doesn't define herself by any boy, and that is a heroine worthy of admiration.
3. Katniss Everdeen can kick some serious ass. One of the things I like best about Katniss is that she's strong - not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Yes, her stubbornness often causes unnecessary grief and drama. But hi, at least she stands up for what she believes in. She's got conviction. She's got char