Friday, September 5, 2008

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Main Characters: 15-year-old Kezi; and Olus, god of the winds
Location: undetermined
Time period: undefined, but in the distant past
Genre: YA Fiction, Fairy Tales

Like Fairest and Ella Enchanted, Ever is a fairy tale that has some familiar themes but is a wholly original story. This one has the flavor of the Middle East and western Africa.

Olus is the Akkan god of the winds. He is also the youngest god--the next oldest is 412 years older--and has no one to play with. So he spends much of his time watching humans and wanting to make friends. Needing to find a land where he is not recognized, he travels east and disguises himself as a goatherder. He falls in love with Kezi, a young girl who is always dancing and weaves the most beautiful rugs. Sadly, because of a rash oath made by her father, Kezi is to be sacrificed to Admat in a month's time. Can Olus and Kezi find a way to fulfill her father's oath and yet still be together?

The book is told in alternating voices by both Olus and Kezi, so we get to know both of them. To my mind, Kezi is the stronger character. She is a loving, devout and dutiful daughter, but also strong-minded and independent. She does not want to be sacrificed, but she does not want her father to be an oath-breaker. She and Olus must each go on a quest, and only if they both succeed will they be able to be together. If either fail, they will remain eternally apart.

Some readers may be bothered that there is a conflict between a polytheistic culture and a monotheistic one--especially since Olus and his fellow gods are made manifest while Admat remains hidden. However, I think that most will be able to accept this as a lovely and exotic love story.

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