Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Lott, Tim. 2007. Fearless.

The girl could hear sobbing in the front room. Her mother was always crying about something or other, so the girl didn't take much notice. She just kept staring at the vidscreen in the corner of her bedroom. It was playing a vacation ad, all blue sea and white waves and sand like a field of honey. She wished she could just climb into the vidscreen and stretch out on the sand, dip her toes into the water, and never return. She would stay there and watch the world from the other side of the screen.
Then the knocking on the front door began. The girl thought that was odd, because they had a perfectly good doorbell. The knock seemed almost like a message. It went rap-rap-rappety-rap, as if it were a friend or a neighbor who always did their own special knock. But friends never came after dark, and the neighbors kept to themselves.
The girl heard a noise behind her. She turned and saw her mother. A dark birthmark the size of a fingernail and the shape of a star protruded from her hairline. Her cheeks were still damp from crying; her eyes were red and scrunched up like meat from a butcher's shop. She hadn't answered the door. Instead she lifted the girl up and pressed their faces together. The girl kissed her mother and tasted salt.. Her mother smiled, as if to tell her that everything was OK. Then she said she had some presents for her. The girl didn't understand. Her birthday was months away.
Her mother produced a small cloth bag and brought out three objects. The first was a picture of the girl's grandmother and grandfather, mounted in a bronze frame. Her grandfather wore a black suit with a cravat, and her grandmother wore a long pale dress and a floppy dark hat.
The second was a beautiful old silver watch with a fine leather strap that she said had once belonged to her father. She said she ought to have something to remind her that she did once have a father.
Finally she gave the girl once more thing: a golden locket containing a tiny photograph of her mother on her wedding day. She hung it gravely around the girl's neck. Then she put the framed photo and the watch back into the little cloth bag, handed it to the girl, and kissed her.
The knock on the door came again, louder this time. Rap-rap-rappety-rap. Her mother left the room. The girl heard the door catch being released, and then her mother began to shout. She heard a man's voice, stern and official sounding.
A few seconds later, a man wearing a uniform and a black peaked cap walked into the girl's room and, without a word, lifted her up. She could see her mother crying. The man didn't pause to let her say goodbye to her mother. He started to carry her down the stairs. The girl went limp. She felt unable to speak.
The door closed behind her. Then she heard her mother's voice through the thin panel of wood.
The locket. Read the words. Never forget the words on the locket.
In the harsh light of the street, the girl studied the back of the locket. She could just make out three lines of faint engraving. The girl pushed the locket inside her blouse and closed her eyes. She didn't resist as the man bundled her into the back of the ugly gray car with no side windows, started the engine, and drove away into the darkness. (3-5)
Fearless or "Little Fearless" is just one of many girls imprisoned at the "City Community Faith School." There the girls have no name, no identity other than a letter and a number. The institution--be it prison or school or work camp--is composed of X's Y's and Z's. The X girls being ranked higher than the Z girls meaning they have higher privileges in a way but also higher responsibilities. They get to be "X" girls by doing the bidding of The Controller. In other words, they work for the enemy.

Fearless and her friends--Beauty, Soapdish, Tattle, and Stargazer--are in a hopeless situation. They all are. Imprisoned, worked to exhaustion, malnourished, unloved and mistreated, the girls are emotionally and physically starving. Fearless is popular--at least somewhat popular--among the girls because she tells stories of hope. She tells stories of the day when they'll all be free. Stories of the girls reuniting with family. Of the girls leaving for the outside world. Fantasies at this point as far as most girls are concerned but oh-how-good-it-sounds. Fearless and Stargazer believe, however, that their freedom will come. The day will arrive when someone will rescue them.

Fearless knows however that NO ONE can rescue them, will rescue them, unless they know the truth. She believes with all her heart and soul that the reason they're still there, still miserable, is that the public, the men and women of the city simply do not know the truth. The truth will set you free, right? If Fearless can escape to tell her story, help will come won't it? It has to, right?

This story is emotional and heartbreaking. Some might argue that it is more than a little predictable. But that might be a matter of age and experience of the reader, the more you've read the genre, the more familiar you are with the twists and turns one is likely to take. Others might think it's a bit too parablesque. More obvious than subtle. More a loud shout than a whisper. I agree in part. But I think that when it comes down to it you either believe or you don't believe. Little Fearless either touches you, resonates with you, or she doesn't. I believe that Fearless, the book not the character, can work for some readers. Not for every reader, but then again no book works for every reader. (For example, the plot twist where Fearless gathers the tears of every girl and captures them in a perfume bottle. And then later that perfume bottle is analyzed to reveal the exact number of tears. It's silly and requires you to suspend your disbelief long enough to go with the flow. And it's not the only plot element that requires this suspension of belief. If you care enough about Fearless, then you can go with the flow and overlook a few things that don't quite work.)

The book offers a way to look at life, at humanity. While it is not a perfect novel, for me at least, it worked well enough for me to lose myself in Fearless's world. While I read this book, followed her journey, I was hooked. Only time will tell if this one stays with me like The Giver and other such novels.

As dystopian fiction, it definitely portrays a world that would qualify for my "It's The End of the World As We Know It" challenge under the category of evil governments. It's not too late to join that challenge by the way. Here's a list of participants so far.

Other reviews: here, here, and here. Most reviews I found were skeptical at best and found more than a little to criticize. I think that might have influenced me to give the book the benefit of the doubt a little bit more than I might otherwise. I'm contrary like that.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jen Robinson 6:47 PM  

I agree with you, Becky: "Fearless, the book not the character, can work for some readers." It didn't quite work for me, but there were some very nice things about it. It's good to read your contrarian perspective.

Bri Meets Books 9:25 PM  

There were some nice bits of writing, but everything else was too distracting for me. I'm glad you liked it though.


MotherReader 11:15 AM  

I'm putting it on hold to take a look at it myself. Sounds interesting.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP