Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ella Enchanted

I hate Disney's Cinderella

It's not a love story and Disney Cinderella is weak and stupid. The movie perpetuates the idea that if a girl is pretty and sweet (well-behaved), she'll be rewarded with the Prince and the Castle. Because girls aren't supposed to think or work hard. "Pretty, pretty, pretty."

There's nothing remotely romantic about the story. The Prince can't even remember what Cinderella looks like--too much staring at her tits, I guess--and has to play "match the shoe to the foot" to find his true love.

Gail Carson's Ella Enchanted is a nice departure from the stupidity with a heroine and story line reminiscent of the movie "Ever After." Ella is cursed (gifted) at birth with obedience. This means she must take any order, even those that weren't meant to be orders. Ella, however, isn't the sort of heroine who accepts this easily. Instead she rebels in the only ways she can, often by twisting the meaning of the order. In one instance, Ella takes off stepsister Hattie's shoes, as ordered, and then cheerfully chucks them out the window into a manure pile. Ella's got sass and I like that.

Most striking is the relationship between Ella and Prince Char. Their dialogue is subtly witty and wonderfully mature. They build a love based on--gasp--friendship and mutual respect. A kid's book that models a truer portrayal of love than more adult romance novels. Go figure.

I read Ella Enchanted because, in her LJ, Anna Genoese suggested it was better than Harry Potter. Huh. Ella Enchanted is charming, but suffers from an awkward, inconsistent narrative and weird leaps of logic. Toward the middle, the novel disassembles when the storytelling sounds like a breathless seven-year old. Sort of like this:

So me and Bobbie went to the lake. And we saw a fish. And the fish jumped. And Bobbie fell in. I laughed. Then Mr. Parker said...

And it feels like Carson is crapping out the rules as she writes, and splattering contrivances on the page when she gets bored with a particular story arc.

I liked Ella Enchanted, but is it better than the Harry Potter books? Nope, sorry. The quality of writing probably dooms it to be largely a favorite for the twee set. Honestly, it was a tad bit too girly for me.

But as an alternative to the Disney, "Be sweet and vapid and ye shall be given a man" bullshit, it's a great children's book.


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