As someone who has never seen the appeal of Harry Potter, I have to say, the title alone does it for me! It’s clearly a tongue in cheek spoof style novel and features a Goth type teen girl with attitude instead of the squeaky clean and wholesome HP. This is much more my cup of tea. But it’s also a lot more than an amusing spoof on Harry Potter. Or a modern take on the social satire to be found in Willy Wonka. There’s depth here beneath the humour. But there’s humour aplenty.
This is the second part of a trilogy so we can be expected to know something of the central characters. They are a group of pre-teens who collectively are known as SKIVE and their mission is to overthrow BigCorp. So far, so funny. Delilah as the central character is well drawn and lives up to her ‘gloomgirl’ image. But underneath all that marmite on toast and black coffee which serves as a stance on her Goth identity, there is a ‘good’ girl. One who appreciates that moral goodness is not at odds with her ‘dark’ image.
The story involves Skive trying to subvert and prevent BigCorp from world domination via the terrifyingly familiar ‘Global Pop Puppet’ show. Delilah’s ‘adventures’ are often presented as cartoonesque but the consequences behind them are all too real. It’s this entertaining combination that keeps the reader hooked throughout. One can easily recognise the ‘players’ in BigCorp and the FuturesLab and the Pop Puppet TV show. Skive are called to fight on a number of fronts, encompassing tackling issues of biotechnology and genetically modified food (food that you can literally ‘play with) to animal testing and challenging a range of contemporary issues such as the impact on society of global consumerism.
None of this is worthy or preachy however. It’s funny in a satiric sort of way and Glass excels at observing society in a subversive way that will appeal to the younger generation who are beyond fairy stories but crave fantasy. It’s funny for adults too and I suspect interesting enough for bored/cool teens to engage with it, allowing them to vent their desire for irony in literature.
It offers not only a point of connection for the ‘lost’ generation but also a rallying cry to the ‘whatever’ generation. It doesn’t challenge by being wordy or worthy but it contains a lot to think about and questions important issues such as globalisation from a left field perspective.
The ironic savvy kid who is too cool for…well, everything will still find humour in Delilah’s adventures and perhaps learn some self-reflective skills in the process.
Added depth is given by the fact that the characters are in real jeopardy. Mike falls prey to the horrors of the computer game Infinite Quest while Brandon rushes headlong into the Pop Puppet competition, desperate to be a success by wining even if this means he’s going to have microchip implanted. And Delilah has her own ‘demons’ to face. She has to learn that healing energy requires compassion which in turn requires learning empathy with others and this is hard for an isolated and precocious girl who keeps her distance because of her personal pain. All the characters ‘grow’ through the story and there’s plenty of scope for the third part to be even funnier and even more poignant. I’m looking forward to what happens in the final part – and when Delilah turns thirteen!
Available in Amazon Kindle Format