Sunday, May 1, 2011


Yolen, J. (2010). Foiled. New York, NY: First Second.

Plot Summary:
Aliera Carstairs is a very talented fencer; it is her life. She practices everyday after school and on the weekends. She has no friends at school, preferring to be by herself and not really interested in befriending anyone. She plays role playing games every Saturday with her younger cousin who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Aliera is shocked when she is all of the sudden interested in the new boy in 10th grade, Avery Castle. He is gorgeous and popular and also her science partner. As he flirts with Aliera, she gets awkward and uncomfortable with his attention. As they spend a few weeks together working on the dissection of a frog, they begin to get comfortable with one another, and Avery asks Aliera on a date. As Aliera waits at Grand Central station at their determined waiting time she begins to see odd things and a bird begins attacking her hair. She puts on her fencing mask to protect herself and all of the sudden she is aware of fantastical colorful creatures all around the station. A beautiful woman urges her to use her secondhand practice weapon, with a ruby on it's hilt. It is here that Aliera discovers Avery is not who he claims to be, and there is a whole lot more to Aliera and her family than she could ever imagine.

I really wanted to like this graphic novel, and I definitely did in a lot of parts, but there was just way too fast of a transition between Aliera being a normal girl and all of a sudden the world's defender. Most of the action happens within the last few pages of the book. I still don't fully understand all that happened in the end. I loved Aliera's character. She was a kick-butt girl, with incredible fencing abilities. She also loved to play role playing games. I think I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if the whole switch to fantasy was explained better and more time was spent developing it. Odd things were definitely alluded to throughout the book, but the actual transition was rather quick. The illustrations were great. Aliera was colorblind, so the gray scale graphics made total sense. The dialog tripped me up a few times. I didn't always understand what was meant in certain thoughts or conversations.

graphic novel, fantasy

Reading Level:
Ages 10 - 15

fencing, rheumatoid arthritis, self-identity

Series Information:
book one of a series to come

Character Names/Descriptions:
Aliera Carstairs (Xenda of Xenon): 11 year old girl; 10th grader, lives in New York City; is a fencer; plays role playing games with her cousin, Caroline; has a crush on Avery; enters into a fantasy world; uses a practice weapon with a ruby on it her mom got secondhand
Avery Castle: cute new boy in the 10th grade; Aliera's science partner; asks her out on a date; turns into a troll
Caroline (Queen Furby): Aliera's younger cousin; has rheumatoid arthritis

Aliera lives for fencing and not much else. She prefers to be left alone, until she meets a new cute student at school who ends up being part of a fantasy world.

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