Reviews: Alexandra Quick

Breathing Life into Wizarding America

Inverarity's introduced us to Alexandra Quick and taken us up through her first year of High School in Wizard America. In many places, we get tastes of what differentiates the States—Ozarkers, with their southern bumpkin magic, David, a black student's reactions to blood prejudice, and Anna Chu, a Chinese student with a dad in government and a lot of hot opinions on other types of Asian magic. It transplants America's greater melting pot extremely convincingly.

Alexandra herself begins the story selfish and with her chin thrust out defiantly 24/7. As she constantly gripes, all the adults in her life are determined to be truthful to her only when there is literally no other alternative. She accuses the Dean of Charmbridge, her school, of lying to her and gets some corporal punishment for her disrespect... except Alexandra was right on the money. Some readers find it hard to forgive the Dean for that, but 6th-grade Alex is determined to be a handful.

As she ages, a trauma in 7th grade that shapes a lot of her 8th grade year matures her immeasurably. She's not sneaking around behind her friends' backs, telling them things, and thinks before flinging herself into the thick of it—that last bit after dooming herself, but still. It's a likable journey with characters who feel distinctly American.

Even aside from the student characters there are interesting adults, Mary Shirtliffe as the cool adult in her life, Dean Grimm and her sister as people forced to deal with her. Plus the mystery of what really happened to Alexandra's mom and Alex's determination to fix her mom's memory, these are nice plot threads.

Alexandra herself turns out to be the daughter of the very morally gray Abraham Thorn, who's out to end the Confederation (American Mo M) for their child sacrificing policies. You'd think he'd be the villain, but after four books no reader would be able to make a convincing argument that Thorn is endgame, it could still very well turn out to be Governor-General Elias Hucksteen (Wizard Prez).

Of course, the most recent book was finished in 2012, and since then, especially with Fantastic Beasts on the way, quite a bit of Inverarity's wizarding America's jossed. By now I'm sure they have an ending in mind, and their blog is still active, but the conflicting canon is still there.

Hopefully we'll see the end of Alex's story soon.