Wednesday, January 19, 2011

REVIEW: Temping Fate I Want a Job at the D.R. Temp Agency! (To be honest, I think I'd make more money there)

Friesner, E.  (2006).  Temping Fate.  New York:  Speak.

279 pages.

Appetizer:  Ilana Newhouse is desperate for a summer job.  But when she first arrive at the D.R. Temp agency, it sets off a few alarms, like, why isn't anyone else working in the building?  But it turns out the Divine Relief Temp Agency isn't a typical work place and it may be the perfect place for a teenage with such "attitude."

On her first day of work, Ilana discovers that she and the other temps actually work for the gods of myth (mostly those from Greek mythology) and Ilana has been assigned to work for The Fates, seeing the strings of human lives.  Can she handle the pressure of such an unusual job and come to terms with her perfect sister, Dyllin who was a temp before her.

At first I really enjoyed Temping Fate.  It's a very fun twist on dealing with the tensions and power issues of being the new employee at a job.  There's a lot of fun off the cuff humor and sarcasm and a touch of feminism.  All of these things should be a recipe for me to fall irreversibly in love with a book.  There's also lots of fun, realistic dialogue (as realistic as can be when characters are dialoguing about their bosses, The Fates or gods of myth).  

While I initially liked Ilana's characterization as a bit of a fantasy and sci-fi nerd and how tough and sarcastic she could be, I started to get annoyed with her about one-third of the way into the book.  She made a lot of decisions I didn't like.  The kind where you want to yell, "Don't go in there, you idiot!!!!!!"  But she would do it.  Then I would have to spend the next two chapters reading the fall-out of her less than stellar choices.  Then I started to get annoyed with the book.  What had at first had fun light joking dialogue became a time-waste.  I just wanted something to happen!  Then, about fifty pages from the end of the novel, BAM! there was a threat to the world as the characters know it.  And I was left wishing that the plot and threats had made themselves obvious just a liiiiiiiiittle sooner.

Overall, despite some moments of frustration, I did enjoy Temping Fate.  It was a fun approach to presenting myth in the modern world.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I would love to work at that temp agency.  I think I'd work harder than Ilana did.  Jut tell me where to send my resume!

Also, when I first picked up this book, I drove myself crazy trying to figure out where I knew Esther Friesner's name from.  Well, not too crazy.  But crazy enough that I did have to figure out what else she had written.  Friesner has published numerous feminist retellings of ancient myth and history in her Nobody's Princess and Sphinx series.  They've been on my to-read lists for a while.  It's good not to be crazy.

(No matter the time, one thing is clear, these rebellious ladies will give you the cold shoulder.)

And apparently she's also authored a Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine novel.  Ahahaha!  Amused!

Dinner Conversation:

"Ilana Newhouse checked the business card in her hand one more time, then looked at the gleaming office door in front of her.  The letters on the frosted-glass panel--big, black, outlined with gold--left no room for doubt.  This was the place.
Ilana glanced at her wristwatch:  10:45 A.M.  Her appointment was at eleven o'clock.  She nibbled her lower lip and sighed.  Dad said it was good to arrive early for a job interview.  It showed your prospective employer that you were a willing worker, eager to be hired, eager to please.
Willing?  Eager?  More like last-ditch, all-other-bridges-burned desperate.  So pathetically desperate to get this summer job that she wondered if maybe she should have shown up for this eleven o'clock even earlier.  Like, oh, say, nine o'clock.  Yesterday."  (pp. 3-4).

"We're not so different from you mortals, you know," Tabby [one of the fates] told Ilana.  "When you get tired on the job, you get careless and make all sorts of little mistakes."
"What's a 'little' mistake for you three?  The Black Death?" Ilana asked.  "I'm not going to pretend I understand everything that's going on here.  I don't know why three of the most powerful beings in the universe chose a flyspeck town like Porlock's Landing to set up shop, and I don't care.  All I wanted was a summer job.  I got this one, and Mrs. Atatosk gave me my pay in advance, so I promise I'm going to earn it."  (p. 42)

"Well, well, I see someone's got an attitude problem."  The spider tried to stay angry, but its scowl twisted into a smirk.  "Get you mad enough and you forget about everything else.  Attitude like that, maybe it'll help you do this job.  On the other leg, it could blow up in your face."  (p.47)

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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