22 October 2010

Girls Kick Ass. Literally.

Fearless by Francine Pascal  (Published 1999, Pocket Pulse) 
A review, by Bailey Kelsey

I got a little story for you, readers!

I was eleven when I realized that, potentially, a girl could kick a boy's ass.  This did not end well for me, or for the boy whom I tested this theory on.  Though, I didn't actually kick his ass.  I slapped him when he broke up with me, and punched his best friend in the nose when he tried to prevent me from running into the girls' locker room in humiliation.  This is really NOT a course of action I recommend; in fact, I would really rather you young girls, or my-age women, or older women avoid violence. (When possible.)

And before you readers jump to conclusions about the book I'm reviewing and the lead-in paragraph, these actions were not in any way prompted or encouraged or spawned by Francine Pascal's Fearless series.  They were, in fact, curbed and better understood because of Pascal's Fearless series.

While Gaia (Guy. Uh.) Moore was my literary introduction to girls who kick ass (she does beat quite a lot of people up in these books), she was also the force that quelled my raging and confused pre-teen hormones and aggression.

Gaia is an angry girl of seventeen who has had a particularly complicated life, being the daughter of a disappearing, ex-CIA agent father and a never-in-the-picture mother.  She has been left in the care of her father's CIA mentor, the fifty-something George Niven, and his thirty-something wife, Ella.  She is starting a new school in New York City.  And, oh yeah, she was born without the fear gene.  Life is just made exceptionally complicated when you aren't afraid of anything.

For instance, if you weren't afraid of muggers, rapists, or murderers, you might be inclined to hunt them down, to tempt them into a crime, and then to teach them a lesson. The lesson being that all pretty women are NOT prey.  Or you might not.  But that's what Gaia Moore would do, and does do.  (Thank goodness her father had the mindset to teach her innumerable methods of martial arts, combat skills, and weaponry tactics before he disappeared.)

But beyond all of those extreme complications and an intense cliff-hanger that drives the reader straight into Book Two (Sam), the lesson is very clear: violence is a dark, twisted thing. And violence has many facets, many forms, and not all of them are so easy to see coming or to prevent. Violence can be physical, mental, emotional, and all violence is tricky.

Then there is the Thing that is true of all Things:  violence has two sides. There is violence for protection and there is violence for aggression.  Oh, and let's not forget (because Pascal doesn't let Gaia forget it), with violence comes guilt.

Of course, the series is not focused solely on violence.  Later books delve into Love, and Trust, and Faith, and Friendship, and Forgiveness.  All those integral aspects of the HUMAN CONDITION.   And the human condition is an integral part of a good story, a relatable story.  A story that, as a reader, you want to be involved in.

Gaia Moore was the heroine that introduced me to heroines that could be strong physically.  But she was also the first heroine that made me realize that I, as a person, need to be strong on all the levels: physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Like all eleven year olds, I was coming into being my own self, learning about who I could be.  Gaia Moore taught me a lot about the type of woman I wanted to be (physical prowess, the ability to protect my own, is a huge part of my identity), and a lot more about the type of woman I didn't want to be (the kind who slaps the boy who dumps her rather publicly during Gym class).


  1. i LOVEEE SVU: Senior Year, but I never picked these up for some reason. Maybe I'll have to....

  2. You should, Kelly. This series was a favorite of mine too!