i hate when people complain about john green books by bashing quentin for idolizing margo, or gus for being so pretentious, because THATS THE WHOLE POINT. if you think his books are romanticizing pain then you’re reading them wrong.
I finished rereading Wild Magic.
I basically plowed through it off and on all day, although my ereader app seems to swear I didn’t spend more than four hours reading in total. I livetweeted a lot of my reactions. I wanted to write some kind of response, “this is my impression as an adult and not a small child in elementary school” but I’m not sure how much I have to give.
The big thing that got me, which I doubt affected me nearly as much as a child, was the theme of families. Daine has lost hers, and she’s trying to find her way in the world without, not having other humans she can trust and relying on only animals as friends. The book really is about found families and how Daine makes one for herself, one that includes animals and people until by the end of the book she has gone from not having a home to having too many. And the bits contrasting her situation, with the prince and princess and Alanna’s son, especially when these small, brave children talk about their parents having to fight and show how clear a perception they have of adult responsibilities, just fucking slices me open and hurts me to the bone.
The other thing that resonates with me so strongly it’s painful is Numair’s mentorship of Daine. He’s just this great big puppy of a man, so enthusiastic about learning and eager to teach. I love how Daine flips fluidly between treating him like a respected elder and calling him things like “master,” and treating him like an equal, down to making jokes and more or less scolding him and yelling at him. I love how stupid fucking protective he is of her, and how much he flips off the handle when she almost dies trying to talk to the dolphins. I love how he slowly becomes possessive of her as he feels responsible for her, calling her “his” magelet and going so far as to throw his hat into the ring for where she should live at the end — with him in his mage tower where he can’t even keep servants on to stay.
I still ship Daine and Numair something terrible. I can’t tell if it’s because I know how the story ends, or if it’s just that I’ve come a long way in all this time and the potential for a May-December romance is just too strong a siren song for me to resist. But there are a lot of things I notice that build into it in interesting ways. I like how when Daine first meets Numair as a man, she seems pretty taken with his looks. But she’s also so clearly unused to boys, and he even reassures her that boys worry about their appearances, too, to make himself as a man seem less alien.
Then when Daine gets to the palace, she meets the king and she swoons hard. I feel like I might be biased, but her narration seems to be far more impartial as she describes how handsome the king is, but in between her objective judgments of his appearance, he’s charming and impressive and that wins her over. Past that point she knows all of these male people and Numair’s male-ness is no longer special; when her friend Miri comments on him being handsome, Daine couldn’t care less. He doesn’t compare to the king, and he’s just her friend.
Past that point, when they’re on the road to Pirate’s Swoop and at Pirate’s Swoop, the amount of physical affection they display seems to pick up. I can’t say this for certain, but I feel like it comes after Daine confesses to Numair and Onua about what “the madness” was before she left her village. Past that point, Numair freely gives her reassuring hugs, and she gives him a (uncertain) kiss on the cheek. After the battle, when she’s magically exhausted and he’s already passed out from the same, she just curls up with him, wrapped in his blanket right there on the roof. The level of trust they have going on is objectively adorable.
Basically, they’re sweet and stubborn and stupidly devoted to and protective of each other, and they also happen to be two individuals with abilities so unique and terrifying that few people could understand them, besides each other, and I want them to kiss on the mouth really, really badly. I ship them so hard and it hurts me.
I still love these books so much, basically, is the verdict here.