Something about this book. I must have read it at a very impressionable age, because ever since that day, around nine years ago, this book has been lingering somewhere in the depths of my mind. It’s not that I think of it often, but it’s there, never fading from my memory with time, like nearly every other book I’ve read.
I reread Old Magic a few years ago now, and I didn’t like it -at all. Now, how could that be? Did I highly romanticize the thing in my mind until it became something else, something more real to me and therefore more acceptable? Could it have possibly been the ‘mood’ I was in when I reread it, or the age difference between readings? I would have thought all of things things had a part in the change in opinion – until I started reading it again this week.
I’m not sure if it’s wisdom or just the ‘phase’ of reading I’m currently in, but when I read something now, it’s like I’m thinking like a writer. Yes, the ideas are there, but if just this happened, or this was omitted and this emphasized, then it would be more focused and more successful… I guess that’s more like an editor, right? Either way, it’s made me more accepting of certain works, like this one, and quite less so about others (Up in the Air by Walter Kirn, which I didn’t bother finishing).
I’ve come to the personal conclusion that in my, lets call it ‘critical’ phase of reading, when I must have reread Old Magic the first time, I was so disappointed by the hype my own brain had created because this is young adult fiction, and I was no longer a young adult. That about sums it up, really. Young adult fiction is much more fast paced, and a little less logical, sometimes. Less explanation in some places and way too much in others – the young imaginations make up for the rest.
This book jumps straight into a scene that is perhaps a bit overkill. Can a boy not show signs of possessing magic powers without literally creating a localized storm in a high school lab class that destroys everything? I think it could have been more subtle and still have been successful, but the author accomplished what she needed to – established the characters through a traumatic experience, in the very first chapter. Accepted. While I’m reading young adult fiction now-a-days, it’s almost like I have to de-focus my lens a little bit to enjoy it, and look at the bigger picture. The plot in this book works, it’s a great story. So the action is a little jam-packed together…I can get past that. What we’re looking for here is the story, not the analytical timeline of events. It’s easy to say ‘that’s impossible’, but why are we reading it in the first place? To be entertained by a good story – to open our minds to something new – to perhaps even learn a little bit more about ourselves. This book accomplished that for me.
So as I go on, working my way through my bookshelves, I will try to keep this experience in mind. While the technical writing skills may not be there up to my standards, that doesn’t mean the author doesn’t have an incredible story to tell. Why should a few messy sentences and loose organization bar me from reading a story that could catch my imagination on fire? That’s what I’m really reading for, isn’t it?
P.S. – I’ve finished it now, and it was wonderful. Didn’t impress me as much as the first reading, how could it, I’m 24 now…but it awakened in me some of the original feelings I had for this book. There are definitely some unforgettable scenes. Eh, I’ll probably read it again every few years forever ;-)