February 24, 2003

Weetzie Bat 2: Witch Baby, by Francesca Lia Block


Admittedly, I haven't read the first book in the Weetzie Bat series, and my head was spinning a bit after getting through the accelerated recap at the start. But only the knowledge that I had borrowed this book, and therefore had to take good care of it, kept me from hurling it across the room partway through.

Part of this is due to the oppressively pervasive use of slang-- I am so sick of "slinkster," for starters. Part of this is due to the unbearably cutesy names-- one character is actually named "My Secret Agent Lover Man." But these pale by comparison to the main problem, which is that this book is concerned with the doings of a thoroughly dislikable cast of characters, who are uniformly immature, self-absorbed, self-righteous, and bloody stupid to boot. And I'm especially speaking of the alleged adults here.

To pick one illustration, which probably counts as a spoiler despite the essential facts being given away on the first page, so if want to be certain not to have this book ruined (ha), skip the next two paragraphs... the eponymous character, Witch Baby, is the daughter of My Secret Agent Lover Man, and Vixanne Wigg. She, however, doesn't know that, despite being raised by My Secret Agent Lover Man and Weetzie Bat; her father, in other words, has been lying to her and claiming not to be her father.

Not entirely surprisingly, the central problem for Witch Baby in this book is that she doesn't know where she came from, and doesn't feel as if she belongs anywhere. Eventually, she confronts My Secret Agent Lover Man, and he reluctantly admits that he is her father, and says that he's been lying to her every day and repudiating his relationship with her for all these years because "I was afraid you would be ashamed of me." Are we supposed to take this as a reasonable excuse? Are we supposed to take this as an even remotely sympathetic character? Please.

(Again, this is just one example. Others abound throughout the book.)

Now, if this were intended as a novel in which the central character survives in a world of selfish, clueless grownups, there might be something here. But from all indications, the author expects us to like these characters.

Possibly this is another example of the New York / L.A. divide, but if you ask me, this book sucks.

Posted by Shmuel at 1:47 AM