by Jane Yolen
Cover Artist: Mike Cavallaro
Review by Gayle Surrette
First Second Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596432796
Date: 13 April 2010 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Aliera Carstairs isn't a jock, a nerd, or popular. What she is, is a fencer and a darn good one that might make it to the Nationals one day. She's invisible at school but known in fencing circles, until a new boy transfers to her school. He's beautiful and her new lab partner. He's also a bit weird, but he makes her nervous and her heart flop about in her chest. Her fencing instructor told her to always protect her heart but now she's thinking she doesn't want to. Or does she?
The entire story is told from Aliera's point of view. Because of her narration of her life, you get an immediate feel for her. She's smart, witty, dedicated to fencing and family, but she's also totally aware of her place in the world, school, and in fencing. She's a typical teen with all the usual trials and tribulations and an acute awareness of what those problems are.
This awareness might be a result of having a mother obsessed with yard sales, jumble swaps, and dumpster diving. Or maybe it's because she spends every Saturday afternoon playing role-playing games with her cousin Caroline who is two years younger and in a wheelchair because of rheumatoid arthritis. Or it could be because Aliera is color-blind, not just to a few colors, but to all; she sees the world in shades of gray.
When I first opened the book and flipped through looking at the artwork, I noticed that it was lovely and representational, but all in shades of grey-green. Towards the end of the book, there were splashes of color but you'll learn why those colors are there when you read the book. It wasn't until Aliera mentioned her color blindness that I realized that the artwork, as well as the story, is from her point of view. This really pulls you into the story even if at first you don't realize why.
Foiled is urban fantasy. While Aliera may play D&D or AD&D, she's grounded in reality, and when over time she begins to notice strange things happening-- we're experiencing her surprise and concern too. Just who is this new boy? Why does he have so many holes in his knowledge? Should anyone be that beautiful? And now, Aliera's question, why is he paying attention to me? You'll learn all about it in Foiled.
This is fast-paced, action packed, and totally engrossing. Aliera Carstairs is a character that is going to stay with you for a while. Hopefully, there will be more adventures and we'll get to find out if Aliera does make it to the Nationals, and if she ever finds her special place in the world.