Review: The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos (Spoiler Alert)
~ Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for providing me with an early copy for review! Release date: May 12 ~ I went into this with some pretty average expectations, and I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised. While I was expecting a light story of high school kids with a little magic, The Fascinators actually provided valuable commentary on prejudice in a way I've never seen done before. I'm not sure if this is an entirely original idea, but it is my first time reading a story that takes place in the modern world where magic is considered another attribute that one can be discriminated against for. While of course this book also discussed homophobia and how it effects people across the world, specifically in the U.S. South, the idea to use magic as a greater representation of this was very clever. It provided an additional layer to the already compelling story. I was also very surprised, yet pleased by some of the directions that this story went in. Some choices made in creating this story really elevated it past where I was expecting it to be.
1. Delia's betrayal was truly interesting. Initially, I was indifferent to it, given the fact that it was heavily foreshadowed. However, her ending was truly not what I was expecting. In most books like this the original friend group suffers some sort of falling out, realizing they've changed, but they always end up back together, even if it's with a different sort of dynamic. That is not what happened here, and Delia ends up facing the consequences for her actions, completely alone and on a new path. I really appreciated that bold decision by the author.
2. Sam and Denver ending up together was exactly what I thought should have happened, but was 100% not what I expected to. Again, in books like this, the OG love interest, the one with the complicated history, is always endgame. Hell, that's even why Greta Gerwig changed the order of introduction of love interests in her take on Little Women. Yet, Andrew Eliopulos really pulled the rug out from under us with this one. But, we still regained our balance. Honestly, I was shocked by how great this decision was! Literally no books I've read make it! I give him so much credit for this. Regarding the writing, I have conflicting feelings. On one hand, the diction in here was genuinely quite advanced at times, and I found myself frequently looking up the insanely specific words used. Eliopulos does comment about this in the acknowledgements, which I appreciated lol. However, amidst all of the advanced vocabulary were some very juvenile passages. This isn't something I usually mind because I do mainly read YA, but I just wanted to note that there are evident tonal shifts in the writing style. Especially the prologue compared to the rest of the book. I was nervous after reading it because I did not like the voice it conveyed, but I was very happy to find that the writing style only improved throughout the novel. You could almost see the growth in the author. For that, I think the beginning could have used just a bit more editing. I'm very glad that I found this hidden gem, and I'm excited for others to get to read this soon! I will definitely be keeping tabs on Andrew Eliopulos' releases in the future!
Song I was reminded of while reading: Trampoline