Looks like I have a 5-star review on Amazon & Goodreads now. Hurray, that balances things on Amazon out. I wonder if Amazon would have more ratings if, like everyone else, you could just leave stars and not have to type a review – I mean, I actually have some other “reviews” on Goodreads, just no text.
The 5-star acknowledges that 14 year olds can sound, and be, very mature – even if the age group isn’t much renowned for their wisdom and maturity – but it still brought up the characters’ maturity. Maybe it was just in response to the other review. I don’t know, but it has inspired me a touch.
I make no apologies for the characters’ maturity, thoughtfulness, intelligence, and so forth; but I will offer an explanation.
I went to school with such people – nearly an entire class of them. In my case I went to a school where behavioural or academic problems got you kicked out, and you couldn’t get in without a good record behind you. Immaculate Conception, from the stories, will ask particularly troublesome students who are unrepentant about it to go elsewhere – they’re disruptive. I show only a small portion of its student body which is not comprised entirely of thoughtful and intelligent people.
The ones I do show, however – well, take Lauren (the one somewhat singled out). She’s a lot like some girls and one or two guys I know. Studious, Good Girl, Perfectionist. She’s the same archetype (to get all literary about it) as Hermione Granger … only with the piety comes humility. She’s a sweet girl who is used to trying her best at everything she does. She’s confident in the things she knows how to do, but even then there’s a layer of self-doubt because she’s always a little afraid of screwing up. Not because of external pressures, but internal. I’m better at illustrating this sort of person than explaining them. I’ve known a few I can emulate (with great praise from my sources of inspiration), but as I’m too inherently lazy to qualify as this archetype myself I’m not sure I could delve into the deeper psychology in a direct assault.
Sally isn’t, exactly, mature. She comes across as such because of her worldliness, her experiences. Outcasts tend to swing this way. Sally is possibly the closest analogue to the sort of person I was in my youth. She’s intelligent, possibly brilliant — for all anyone knows the smartest child in that school, that county, state, country, or solar system … she just can’t bring herself to give a damn, however. She doesn’t apply it anywhere that doesn’t directly interest her, and then she expects to be challenged, or she gets bored and she loses interest. On top of that she has had to spend a lot of time in introspection. I wasn’t outcast for being in a small town and having passed a note to another little girl asking if she’d be my girlfriend, but I was outcast for things that were not of my own doing. I had friends, dear and good friends, but few. I was not popular. This leads to a pseudo-maturity when it’s mixed with intelligence and an inclination toward using it. Many of my friends fit this category. A better way to think of Sally is someone who had to grow up too fast, either by her own assessment of the world or by actual pressures and who has experienced a wider world and greater array of people to give a deeper frame of reference for this ‘growing up’.
That aside the mature children, aren’t. Zach, for example, is hardly a child at 16. Marcus, Aaron, and Travis are also a bit older than Lauren & Sally as well.
I’m not making excuses, and I sincerely believe that the characters are presented as deeply as the story requires and a little more for flavour. However, while it isn’t important to understanding the story to have a deeper understanding of the characters, some people seem to like that; it gives them some sort of peace of mind.
As such I’m going to do something I’d thought of before and rejected. Inspired by Seanan McGuire‘s InCryptid A-B-Cs for the launch of … oh bother, I forget which book it was and LJ is a wretch for finding old posts in. Starting today or tomorrow I’m going to work my way through the characters alphabetically and tell you a bit more about them. Will it help the stories? No, it won’t. It’s like knowing that Albus Dumbledore was gay; it adds nothing to the stories, his part in them, his motivations, etc. but it’s interesting and somewhat enlightening (for those who hadn’t been clued in by his absolutely fabulous wardrobe – I’d personally had suspicions from the first book).
I hope you enjoy them, and I hope I enjoy them enough to finish. If I don’t, I won’t and I’ll tell you it’s ended. I’m still trying to figure out what to do for letters which have no characters. Ah well, we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.
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