on Oct. 27, 2014 :
It's hard for me to separate "Fable of the Swan as a novel" from "Fable of the Swan as an exploration of the world of Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine," because I read THIS as a way to help wrap my head around THAT. So I'd like to first start by saying that if you've come to this book because you've found yourself in the middle of Town and aren't sure what's really going on, you should buy Fable of the Swan and read it, for it will enlighten you.
I mean, it's also a novel on its own. It's just a personal failing that I can't describe it in a way that does it justice.
Fable of the Swan is the story of a high-school girl in a Town where some people are monsters but that isn't really a big deal except when it is. For the first two-thirds of the book, she has to find herself, but this process is not very life-affirming or wholesome. Really, it isn't. In fact, by the time she really does find herself, you're going to wish she had failed her Self-Actualization roll and then lost the die under the gaming table so she couldn't roll again. But at that point, you're as committed as she is to her fate, which is a tale of glory and conquest and pain. Everyone's pain.
I want to call her an unreliable narrator, except she isn't. She tells us exactly what's really happening, at all points of the story, and never lies to us . . . just to herself.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)
on June 27, 2014 :
It's been a few days since I finished reading this now, but the story still occupies my thoughts. I keep turning it over in my head, amusing myself with attempts to classify it, determine intent and meaning, all the usual acts of literary analysis.
I'm usually pretty good at that kind of stuff, but Fable of the Swan is slippery.
I think that's one of the clearest signs - aside from how voraciously I read through it - that this is a very, very good book.
By which I mean Fable of the Swan elegantly jumped straight to standing among my favourite works of fiction, a category including Alice in Wonderland, the best of Terry Pratchett, an eclectic mix of video games and Japanese animation and movies like Ikiru.
Articulating the why of this is difficult. The story is too many things to easily accept pithy summation, but if I had to try...
...It is a story about heart. Or perhaps hearts. It is a story that cares deeply about both its characters and the reader. It wishes them the best, even as it acknowledges that things often seem like the worst.
It is a story of regrets, about bad life decisions, fittingly for a young adult novel.
It is a story about friends, and how much they matter.
Also the last line just kills me. Every time.
(reviewed 11 months after purchase)