Monday, August 23, 2010


Aliera Carstairs keeps to herself at school, for the most part, feeling ill at ease and a bit apart from everyone else there - a not uncommon feeling among many teens. But when she's fencing, everything changes: she is confident, poised, and very skillful.

When her mother buys her an old foil she found at a tag sale, everything changes - although she doesn't realize that until later. She narrates this story, telling it to us, the reader, in the format of a graphic novel. We see scenes as they happen, and are given her interpretation of them as she tells us the story.

Avery Castle, a new boy, shows up at school, and Aliera is immediately taken with his amazing good looks - as are all the other girls. She's not sure how she feels when she finds out he's to be her lab partner in science class. She is attracted to him, a little scared of him, definitely puzzled by certain things about him - but before too long he is definitely under her skin. When she finally agrees to go out on a date with him, and is waiting to meet him at Grand Central Station, unbelievable things start to happen.

I don't want to give too much away here - best to let Aliera tell you her story in her own way. This book appears to be mostly setup for future stories about Aliera, and as such it raises many questions, most of which remain unanswered. I liked Aliera's honesty, as well as her dedication and skill when it comes to fencing. When the fantastical elements are introduced, it did seem that she accepted their reality surprisingly easily, but I did enjoy the way in which the early panels, drawn in shades of gray to represent her color blindness, burst into rainbow hues when magical things start to happen. Many intriguing secondary characters are introduced, but they remain fairly undeveloped in this first book. I'm hoping to get to know them better in future volumes.

Fans of Jane Yolen will be delighted with her first foray into the realm of graphic novels, as will fans of graphic novels in general, not to mention fantasy stories. I look forward to reading more about Aliera and her destiny - soon, I hope!

Foiled by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Mike Cavallaro (First Second, 2010)

Source: My local public library

Also reviewed at:
Finding Wonderland: "This book has a great premise and story--one that I really wish had been fleshed out more, actually--and charming and fitting illustrations..."
Stuff as Dreams: "I see now why people enjoy Jane Yolen so much. She writes relateable stories that fully entertain and she puts fantastic spins on age old stories. Aliera was such a wonderful character and was developed so well in just these short 160 pages."
YA Booknerd: "I really like Aliera. I like how she's different. I love the fencing parts to the story and how she dominates in her sport."


  1. Oh I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one :) I'm really hoping that she writes more of these!!

  2. Jane Yolen and First Second... have to read this! Onto the wishlist it goes.

  3. I read chris's review of this recently too. I love what I have read by Yolen and will definitely get to this soon.

  4. I've never read Yolen before but this sounds like an interesting graphic novel. I love the fencing angle since it's not used too often these days.

  5. Chris - I'm assuming they're planning on writing more of these - it seems like the story's just getting started!

    Pussreboots - I'll be looking forward to hearing what you think of this.

    Rhinoa - I hope you'll enjoy it!

    Ladytink - I liked the fencing angle, too - and simply that she has a passion for something that is not typical and involves such dedication.

  6. Ooh. THis sounds interesting. I can't think of any book that I've read about fencing!

  7. Ms. Yingling - Yes, the fencing aspect is fascinating, and each chapter has a title that refers to a fencing move, which was fun. It's colorful and visually appealing, and I think it would be a good addition to your library - nothing too edgy or mature.

  8. I really liked this one as well! Although when I was doing research before writing up my review, I found out that at the moment, there's only going to be sequel, not sequels. Which is sad, because I agree that the story base seems broad enough to support multiple follow-up volumes.

  9. Fyrefly - That is disappointing! It seems like there is a lot being developed that would be fascinating to see in more than one volume. Maybe they'll reconsider!


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