My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The 3 stars are tentatively given. During certain parts of the book I was leaning towards 3.5, even 4 stars and during others I couldn’t consider more than 2.5.
So 3 stars it is.
It took me nearly two and a half hours to read the entire book. It trips along at a good pace, never lags, never bores. The only problem with the story is that dips in the shallows and refuses to delve further into its characters. There are serious nuances to it, and there are funny moments. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I kinda wish it did.
Barbarian girl is supposedly the story of Liza, a girl picked on by three of her classmates to a miserable degree. After her newly acquired powers turned her into a hulking, muscle-bound heroine, she also had to deal with a sudden image change, which played havoc with her teenage insecurities.
At the end of the book, though, I think it would be more prudent to say that the book was about many characters, not just one.
It was more about a new world where super heroes and heroines were recruited by governments to fight on their behalf, and where the said powered-heroes had to fight the authorities for their rights to be treated as equal citizens.
That might sound pretty complex for a novella, but it was actually integrated quite simply into the plot.
The story never delved deep into any of the characters, merely touching on them as if in introduction. I loved some of the powers that the superheroes had, Liza’s friend, Pheonix, for instance, could die again and again always reappearing in the Ethereal Plane or the Physical Plain depending on where she was killed. I especially liked how, when she was uncomfortable and wanted to leave, she just said some form of “I’m out of here,” and slit her throat. Awesome (if morbid) disapparating power.
I did have some issues with the pacing of the novel which was abrupt at times, but maybe that is to be expected of such a short work.
When Liza first founded the Axe of Borin on her bed one evening it surprised me that she immediately began thinking about wreaking vengeance on her classmates. Why wasn’t she surprised by the presence of a glowing axe on her bed? Why the easy acceptance?
The answer was, of course, that she had grown up in a society where comic book superheroes were real and now she was one of them.
Unfortunately it also meant going to a new school (one that trained powered teenagers like her to become ‘paid assassins’ for the state), trying to make new friends while attempting to ignore the cat calls and cruel whispers that followed her around.
In the end, Liza overcomes her shyness and fears and her friends bloom along with her.
I hope the author writes more in this world. I rather liked the ‘Barbarian Girls’ and what they were shaping into.