Saturday, September 17, 2016

Diary of a Wickedly Cool Witch by Kate Cullen

Rating: WARTY!

The blurb tells us that this story involves the titular character, Lily, taking on school bullies. Lily is some three hundred years old. The reason she appears to be twelve is that she is periodically reincarnated, yet she retains all her memories so while she was technically born only twelve years ago, she has the mind of a triple centenarian. Herein lay the first problem with this. Lily not only looks like a twelve-year-old, she thinks, feels, and acts like one. I don't know how middle-grade girls (at which this is aimed) would feel about this, but from my perspective the story was completely nonsensical and wildly inauthentic.

The blurb also says that this novel "touches on the notion of bullying, self-image, standing up for yourself, caring for your friends and being an individual" yet despite that, we have fat-shaming and age-shaming. How is that building anyone's self image or does the author want only willowy girls to read her books? It was disgusting and inexcusable. On top of that we get the 'girls hate math' stereotype.

Anachronism was rife. How come Lily knows the words to a thirty-year-old song by the police? Not because the middle-grade girl does (which is possible but unlikely), but because the author does. So now we have a three-hundred-year-old witch in a twelve-year-old body speaking in a thirty plus year-old/I don't know the author's age voice of Kate Cullen (not to be confused with Scots cyclist Katie Cullen, or with the other Australian Kate Cullen, writer of poetry and fantasy!).

There are many inconsistencies. Lily has psychic skills but she isn't a mind reader?! I know the two are not interchangeable, but if you have psychic skills you are definitely some sort of a mind reader! At another point she says, "I'm a witch not a psychologist," but after almost 300 years of experiencing humanity? You're both!

There are also writing inconsistencies. I read at one point "I think she snobbed me." I don't know if that was intended as a joking play on words or if the author simply put an 'o' instead of a 'u'. Maybe it's something Australians actually say (the author is Australian, so US readers should beware that there might be some minor language difficulties) That is the kind of thing an under-educated middle-grader might write, but it's not what a 300 year old would write. Finally there's the unintentional humor: "I try not to put the words cute and Dan in the same sentence." Um...she just did! Guess she's not trying very hard.

I can't recommend this. Maybe the girls at whom it's aimed will be less discriminating and view it differently from me, but I hope they actually aspire to read better-written novels than this.