Retro Review: How to Ditch Your Fairy (2009)

Audio Book

Justine Larbalestier – read by Kate Atkinson

Bolinda Audio (complete and unabridged – 6 hours and 58 minutes)

ISBN: 9781742333892

I read the How to Ditch Your Fairy paperback in early 2009 and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive the audio book for review. I listened to it over the course of a few weeks in the car, and was amazed by what a different experience it was, and by how much I had missed in my first reading of the novel.

To begin, the wonderful narration of Kate Atkinson lends a depth and enjoyment to the story. She captures the nature of the story beautifully, and reads with passion and verve. It’s a delight to listen to.

Secondly, listening to the story is a far more immersive experience than simply reading for oneself. I tend to read very quickly but it is simply not possible to skim read an audio book and so details are not overlooked, which I took a great deal of pleasure in. It’s a more leisurely encounter with the text, and makes a massive difference to way the book is understood.

The story itself is a fun one. In Larbalestier’s world (which is rather thinly drawn, but not necessarily central to the story itself), almost everyone has a “fairy”, a kind of luck creature that gives its human some sort of special talent. Many are mundane (such as the loose change fairy), others are exciting (like the charisma fairy). Some, however, are plain frustrating, such as protagonist Charlie’s fairy – a parking fairy, which everyone except Charlie thinks is fabulous. Charlie just wants to get rid of her fairy, and will go to any length to achieve her goal, including befriending the hated Fiorenze (who has an all-the-boys-like-you fairy) and trying any method possible to get rid of her fairy.

Throw in a sweet love story and some sassy girlfriends, a little bit of mystery and a lot of laughs, and you’ve got a winning recipe. Larbalestier is a very clever writer, and she has produced a book that is fun and yet still manages to convey some important YA themes in an accessible and totally engaging way.

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