A film set in Ireland provides the backdrop for some real-life drama.
Iris Thorne only met her grandmother M.E. Thorne once, but her shadow still looms large. The elder Thorne wrote the Elementia trilogy, a feminist take on J.R.R. Tolkien. Iris’ father despises the books, and she’s avoided them herself in part due to the fanatical superfans—dubbed “Thornians”—who have invaded the family’s life. When Hollywood mounts a big-budget adaptation of the first novel, Iris and her younger brother visit the Ireland-based production. There, Iris warms to Eamon, the unknown hottie cast as the film’s co-lead. McCarthy (You Were Here, 2016, etc.) smartly doles out the details of the plot of Elementia, but a major conflict between Iris and her father is more frustratingly teased out until things finally click into satisfying gear. As Iris navigates her feelings for her father, grandmother, and Eamon, she spars with Cate Collins, the film’s director and the novel’s highlight. Every scene with Cate crackles with intelligent feminist reasoning that could easily have slipped into sermonizing but instead stays true to character. The novel spirals outward and upward, developing tertiary characters and tying everything together via its central theme, resulting in a dense but satisfying reading experience. All major characters are assumed white, but two of the film’s stars are part Filipino.
A war cry and a love letter all at once. (song list, glossary, map) (Fiction. 12-16)