Monday, 19 September 2011
Review: Snow White and the Alien - Artemis Hunt
Extent: ebook (433 KB)
Publisher: Self Published
Pub Date: 21st August 2011
Rude. Opinionated. Dirty. Bug crazy.
That's how folks describe 16-year-old Snow White, who is more interested in studying insects than her own beautiful, anemic face. When her bipolar stepmother sets a price on her heart, which she'd like served with baby potatoes and Chianti, Snow White has no choice. She must say goodbye to the only people who have ever loved her – her three-chinned nanny, who feels like a pillow, and her childhood friend, Tom, who has spent his life wearing a thick, fleshy armor to fend off her princessy barbs.
Snow White must outwit every studly huntsman, assassin, city guard and robber baron sent to bring her back, preferably dead, before she reaches Lapland.
20-year-old Aein is a one-winged cripple from another planet. Passionate, ridiculed, headstrong, and considered hideous in his gossamer, aerial world, he desires nothing more than to prove to his royal family that flight and beauty are overrated. He gets his one chance when he is selected to go to Earth, disguised as a 'Crawler' – who appears to us as a phenomenally handsome human youth. His mission: to pave our world for colonization and, later . . . annihilation.
The first native he stumbles upon is the fugitive Snow White.
Snow White and Aein must choose their allegiances, and fight a forbidden, growing love for each other before their worlds explosively collide.
I have to admit the title of this book made it pretty hard for me to resist, it’s one that really makes you wonder what the hell is going on in the book and it is far too tempting not to find out what it’s really all about. I have to say, I’m pretty glad that I did.
I guess the first thing I imagined was a mad re-telling, bordering on a farce, of the fairytale of Snow White and although it starts out this way, it soon becomes something a lot more epic in its own right. Snow White and the Alien is definitely a story that veers more towards the original fairytale, paying tribute more to the Grimm brothers rather than Disney, with often very dark and gruesome moments. It can be pretty graphic at times with themes such as sexual assault and cannibalism but this actually lends itself to the more macabre origins of fairytales, the versions you wouldn’t tell your children at bedtime. There are also cameos from other fairytale characters such as the grown up Hansel and his cannibal sister, Gretel. At first I was a bit confused as to why Gretel was a cannibal but a big part in the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel is that the witch enslaves them in preparation for eating them and in the original French version the twins slash the throat of their captor. It’s all pretty gruesome when you wash away that Disney layer!
What does remain, however, from both the old and the updated fairytales, is the sense of heroism and the journey the characters go through. Both the heroes, Snow White and Aein (the alien) begin the story as fairly helpless entities, constantly being trodden down by other characters but as the story builds, their potential for heroism becomes fulfilled. They go from being scared and superficial to taking control of their situations, learning to be courageous and seeing through the physical beauty of each other to find the person they love within, no matter what their form. I just love the way this story builds, becoming more and more epic. It moves gracefully from a fantasy to a sci-fi novel, ending a very different story to the one that began the book. There’s a real sense of the universe getting bigger and bigger, from a fairytale castle in Bavaria to an all out alien invasion. Just writing that sentence makes me think “this cannot possibly work as a story” but actually it does and it does make sense when you turn the last page even though you try to convince yourself that it can’t. Fantasy, at least the once-upon-a-time variety, and science fiction are just poles apart but Artemis Hunt has taken two opposing stories, skilfully melded them together and created a story that actually makes sense in a non-farcical way. I have to hand it to her, that’s quite an achievement and I’d like to see Disney try to make an adaptation of that!