Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Young Adult literature and the upside of necromancy

Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m the Queen of the Dead by Richard Robert’s wasn’t on my immediate reading list. I mean, I planned on eventually reading it but I had other stuff higher on the list. But it ended up sneaking to the front of the line.




It is the eighth book in a cape punk series about teenagers whose struggles to figure themselves out are complicated by super powers. The initial protagonist of Please Don’t Tell et al is Penny whose uncontrollable mad science and knack for super villainy makes her dreams of  being a super hero tricky. After her story is resolved in Please Don’t Tell My Parents You Believe Her, Roberts began bringing in new protagonists.

While I liked Goodnight and Magenta, Avery Special, most powerful living necromancer in the world (on account of being the only living one), is  my favorite new protagonist. In no small part because she’s not interested in heroics or villainy. She just wants to get better at necromancy. Not that she won’t save the world if it needs saving.

The world of Please Don’t Tell et al has a very silver age feel where both heroes and villains follow a code of conduct that keeps things safe for civilians. But one of the underlying themes of the series is how much work it takes to keep that code of conduct up. In fact , outside of Los Angeles, it’s pretty much stated the rest of world is a lot scarier. In fact, one of the supporting characters in PDTMP I Work for a Supervillain gets, for all intents and purposes, mutilated by a world-scope villain.

One of the major conflicts in the series is the teenagers chafing under the restrictions of the code of conduct. In fact, a major part of the first book is getting grown-ups to take them seriously. Part of what makes Avery an interesting contrast is that she much more acknowledges the need for a social structure that keeps everyone safe. Part of her story arc is realizing that she does need a mentor and that magic can become a dangerous addiction.

One character, who only appears as a one scene wonder, helps hammer the danger of magic addiction home. The Godchild of Despair, who gained her powers and lost her name by failed magical suicide. I am certain that White Wolf has a splat book built around this concept. While only appearing for one scene and being a likeable character, she helps both Avery and the reader realize the stakes of dark magic.

After I Did NOT Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence (which I think was published in the middle of the Penny books) and Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Work For a Supervillain, I didn’t think the non-Penny books would be as strong. Queen of the Dead felt like a return to form and I’m glad Avery apparently becomes the narrator again for the tenth book.

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