So here we are: another YA fairy book from the post-Twilight years when hidden destinies were found inside of love triangles and magical melodrama. I remember Wings being almost as polarizing as its vampire predecessor when it came out in 2009, which makes it sound like it’s cut from the same problematic young adult fantasy cloth. Well…you know what, let’s talk summary first.
One morning, 15-year-old Laurel Sewell wakes up to find a flower blooming right out of her back. With the help of her new friend David, and a mysterious young man named Tamani, Laurel learns she is a faerie—a faerie sent to defend the gate of Avalon, which happens to be on her human family’s land. Adventures abound and love sparks as Laurel learns more and more about her heritage, as well as the monsters she is up against.
Even after three readings, I still have mixed feelings about Wings. On the one hand, it is refreshing to read about fairies that don’t drink human blood or steal human souls or any typical YA fairy business.
Also, the fairy lore is very original. Laurel discovers, with David’s scientific know-how, that she is more plant than human. She only drinks Sprite and eats fruits and veggies, and breathes out oxygen. She doesn’t even have a heartbeat. It’s pretty cool to read about.
Remember, though, that this book came out in 2009, when it was unspoken law for every YA book to have a love triangle. And that is definitely where Wings fumbles.
Shortly after Laurel blooms, she meets Tamani, a faerie sentry. I…don’t really like Tamani. He’s is kind of clingy and touchy, almost like the guys at bars who keep trying to get close to girls even when it makes them uncomfortable. Tamani is not quite as creepy as that, but the point still stands that he does not know how to keep his distance.
Tamani also makes it known how little he likes David, and even has the audacity to whine about how much he puts himself through to protect Laurel, and how she still won’t love him. It almost sounded like he would pitch himself over a cliff if it meant making Laurel love him. Sure, he may be a cute faerie, and sure, he provides 99.9 percent of the exposition, but him being a whiny little bitch does not help his case.
Laurel herself certainly doesn’t help things, either. She starts off okay—she is sarcastic, but still caring and kind of shy—but then, when Tamani enters the picture, kick-starting the love triangle, things go downhill. Laurel states that she is not trying to choose between one or the other, but the fact that she leads them both on is what gets me.
Let me be clear: love triangles are not an inherently bad trope. They can be interesting, especially where no one’s love is reciprocated, but rather goes in a funny or tragic circle. Or perhaps when two people are clearly interested in each other, but a third person’s love goes unrequited. It’s only when a girl is forced to choose between two guys—especially when she leads them both on—that the trope becomes problematic. It was this constant back-and-forth tug-of-war melodrama that ruined this trope for many readers, myself included. And unfortunately, this is another example of why this trope fell from grace.
Honestly, I have problems with both of Laurel’s love interests. While David is not nearly as creepy as Tamani, he just didn’t seem particularly flawed to me. At least he doesn’t try to goad Laurel into loving him like Tamani does, but still.
You would think the flaws would end with the love triangle, but there is one more thing that grinds my gears.
Laurel, it turns out, was part of a scheme to inherit the land where the gate of Avalon is. She was sent to live with the human family who owned it, so that one day, she would inherit it, and therefore help the faeries protect it. Okay, sounds good so far.
But here’s the thing. Faeries are emotionally and mentally mature at a young age, so Laurel would know not to reveal her faerie secret and could go through normal human life. Plus, she would know what she was up against and what she had to do to fulfill her duty.
And yet…the faeries erased her memories of her life as a faerie…WHY??
WHAT was the point?? What if the monsters looking to take the land had struck BEFORE Laurel learned who she actually was? Wouldn’t it make more sense for Laurel to remain aware of all the dangers of her duty if guarding the gate to Avalon was truly that important??
Point is, we still could have gotten a compelling story about a young faerie grappling with her great destiny while still living among humans. At least the logistics would make some kind of sense there.
So, yeah, this book definitely has flaws. But does that mean that the good stuff is completely overshadowed? Well…I guess if you can stomach the back-and-forth with Laurel and her boy toys, and put aside the huge logical holes, then maybe you’ll enjoy Wings. The fairy lore is still cool, and the fact that the fairies are benevolent is a bonus. It’s just too bad that it’s all saddled with another problematic love triangle.