Being worried about fitting in is a common fear that many people have in their teenage years…and beyond. Some of us embrace our awkwardness in stride, but not everyone is as comfortable in their weird skin, which leads to the creation of Awkward, a mythic land prominent in R.K. Ryals’s The Story of Awkward.
Peregrine “Perri” Storke is an artist who has drawn pictures of her ideal family, friends, and world since she was as child as a refuge from her father’s harmful words and her mother’s medicated ambivalence. Perri’s book full of awkward characters gave life to a bespectacled princess, a kindly king with an imperfect nose, an intellectual bookworm, and a fairy with mismatched wings. Leaving home to go to college with her best friend, Perri is also leaving behind her awkward world, but in doing so, she gets drawn deeper into the world of Awkward, where things are going horribly wrong as Perfection is taking over and morphing the world.
Entertaining as it was to read a story revolving around fairy tales and off-kilter characters, it was ultimately rather cliche and trite–especially when it came to Perri’s love interest and progression from disdain to affection. There’s lots of unnecessarily flowery language to describe rather standard actions and things (even in the made-up world with its own rules). Combining aspects of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, the alternate world presented takes reality and mutates it to fit the narrative being told, yet it doesn’t take it much farther from the tried-and-true paradigm. The characters have great potential to be something more, but the manner in which they are presented leaves them as more of a hollow place-holder, relying on stereotypes, despite one of the story’s villains being named Stereotype.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.