Goodreads: The Unfairest of Them All
Series: Ever After High #2
Published: March 25, 2014
After Raven Queen’s refusal to sign the Storybook of Legends at the last Legacy Day, students have formed themselves in the opposing groups Royals and Rebels–those who wish to live out their parents’ destinies and those who wish to create their own. Tensions are high, but then the Headmaster accuses Madeline Hatter of a terrible crime. Can the students forget their differences and band together to save Madeline from Banishment?
The sequel to The Storybook of Legends jumps right into the story, mostly ignoring not only the events of the last book but also many of the questions the premise raised. Although Raven Queen refused to sign the Storybook and thus should have disappeared from existence, she remains at school along with all of her friends. Aside from identifying themselves as “Royals” or “Rebels” based on whether they wish to relive their parents’ fairytales or whether they want to break from their tales and forge a new destiny they do nothing about the new state of affairs. (Presumably the “Royals” are so called, not just because of the catchy alliteration but because most Royals would naturally want to relive their tales, whereas the villains, for instance, might not be so keen on the grisly deaths that await them.) No one questions why Raven has not disappeared and even Raven, despite her investigations into the implications of deviating from the story, does not notice the elephant in the room.
The problem with the premise is that no one is actually reliving their parents’ destinies–not if Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel are at school rather than growing up in isolation, not if Madeline Hatter and others are not living in Wonderland at all, not if the villains are not dying as specified in the stories but surviving to raise children who will become the next villains. And one might assume that the marriages would eventually get awkward (Raven Queen has to become her roommate Apple White’s stepmother at some point), but no one addresses these problems, either. At least in this book Raven starts to notice some of the cracks in the story–she realizes for instance, that Hansel and Gretel’s witch was not baked in her oven but escaped out the other end–but these implications are still not addressed in terms of the overarching plot. Raven seems to find it a bit weird, but cannot make the jump to the sort of conspiracy that must be happening to keep everyone in order and reliving their tales.
Of course, this series exists to market a line of dolls, so getting to the point probably would not serve well in terms of marketing. Thus this book proves nothing but a filler episode. Madeline Hatter is accused of a random crime and sentenced to Banishment. Apple and Raven must go on a random quest to save her. Questions about whether the Royals or the Rebels are right are not really addressed until the very end of the book, when the discussion is abruptly cut short before it can become too serious. After all, we can’t let this cash cow escape just yet. No point in really looking at this whole “destiny” thing. Not when we can have a random interlude about a Jabberwocky in the upcoming book.
The dolls have left other marks on the book, as well. The author provides a lot of random descriptions about what everyone is wearing and things like that, apparently because little girls will want to a doll to dress up in her very own sparkly pink jumpsuit? There’s a lot of random slang that makes little sense–“Castleleria” instead of “cafeteria”, for instance. Never mind that “leria” says nothing about food and the pun cannot make sense in that world. Fairy-tale slang is cool and will attract modern girls to the product! And then there are the pets. I cannot imagine why they exist, unless at some point they appear on shelves along with the dolls. The characters do not actually take care of these pets. Instead, they conveniently live in the forest where they fend for themselves and their owners forget about them until they can prove useful on a quest. It is a bit disturbing to think that responsibility for pets is not required in this world, that pets instead are there mostly to make some sort of fashion statement.
I admit that, despite its many flaws, the book is kind of fun. I mostly enjoy reading about Madeline Hatter and watching her interact with the Narrator, who desperately tries to keep Maddie from hearing the story when she is not supposed to. Watching the other fairy-tale characters interact is rather fun, too, but sadly there are too many of them for Hale to focus on more than maybe four at a time. This story highlights Cerise Hood. In the future I hope not only to see Ashlynn Ella, but also Dexter Charming, who seems to have been a bit forgotten.
I do not yet know, however, if I will really continue on with the series. The books are light and easy to get through quickly–something that works in their favor since the lack of logic might otherwise make me decide not to carry on. However, now that I see that both books two and three seem to be filler, I worry about getting caught up in a series that will never end–not because there is a story to tell but because there are dolls to sell.