A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Today is publication day for the third book in Lisa Glass’s YA surfing trilogy, with Ride finally joining the hugely successful Blue and Air to complete the rollercoaster story of Zeke and Iris.
Hilary, Eve and Moira have all been uber-fans of the series from the beginning and decided to get into a huddle to mark the auspicious day with a review of Ride and a look back over the whole Blue-Air-Ride trilogy.
Thanks to the miracle of the internet, Hilary (holidaying on Scilly), Eve (in Edinburgh) and Moira (somewhere in Nowheresville north of Dumfries) managed to meet up in a quiet corner of cyberspace to talk sun, surfing and coming of age over virtual coffee and biscuits …
(Disclaimer: Fairly obviously, we all know Lisa well – but we wouldn’t be enthusing if we didn’t genuinely love the books – we’d be saying something conventionally polite like ‘I thought they were very – um – interesting …’)
Moira: I was horribly afraid that Lisa couldn’t possibly maintain the standard of the first two books (but then I was horribly afraid that Air couldn’t possibly be as good as Blue, so being horribly afraid is plainly my default setting). I needn’t have worried of course. Ride is a very different book to either Blue or Air, but that’s as it should be, because Iris and Zeke are very different people now – they’ve grown into young adulthood before our eyes and are confronting and coping with the messy and confusing truth that human beings are flawed and life seldom if ever runs along the nice neat tramlines we try to construct for it – one of the biggest and most important lessons we all have to learn.
Eve: Ride was definitely my most anticipated book EVER! I have been clawing pathetically, waiting to get my hands on a copy. We all know how I felt at the end of Air and I really needed to know that Iris and Zeke were going to be okay. But holy moly, Lisa doesn’t half put them through the wringer in Ride. This is such a supercharged finale, well beyond what I expected. And I totally agree that they’ve grown into messy adulthood and Ride really explores all the repercussions of that.
Hilary: My sole qualification for loving Ride is that I’m an Adult, but I’m hoping you don’t have to be Young to love it. (I’m currently in the perfect place for this conversation – although 40 miles west of Newquay admittedly, and no surf, because it shoots straight past us here on Scilly on its way to Fistral. I just love the immersion in a totally new world for me, of surfers and surfing, and their connection to the ocean, to the world and to the universe. Its unique language and values are so perfectly captured by Lisa, along with its little parallel universe there in Newquay.
I think the trilogy works so well as a sweep – I was delighted to have an excuse to go back to the beginning again, so that I was deeply engaged in it from the first. But Ride is just wonderful on its own terms. Blue was a revelation of this new world with its incredible, resilient young protagonists. Air was devastating in its misunderstandings and suffering. Ride takes us on another switchback of drama and emotion, before it ties everything up in the most satisfying way.
The main characters, Iris and Zeke, Kelly and Daniel, are so young that I find it terrifying to read about their lives and remember how I was at that age. They are so strong and brave, mature in some ways, not in others, and run such dangers both in their sport and in their lives outside it – and yet Lisa makes their mental toughness seem so natural it’s impossible not to believe in them totally. And their voices are so distinctive you can almost hear their accents – Iris’s and Daniel’s Newquay, and Zeke’s laid back, ultra-polite transatlantic.
I am doing my best to get over nearly half a century of regret that I never had a best friend like Kelly, and I think the utter triumph of the book (apart from plausibly reconciling the young heroes after they’d been so devastatingly driven asunder) is the development of Daniel into a character to love and respect.
So, for the last three years, I’ve had a new Lisa Glass novel to read just where it means the most, in the Deepest South-West. I’ll be here again, same time, same place, next year. What am I going to do without the next one?
Moira: Oh Daniel. Yes. In many ways, his is the greatest journey of them all … and the most pleasing.
I have to say that Lisa’s skill as a storyteller is phenomenal … you get so sucked in that you really feel as if you’re reading about people you know and care about personally: her friends, our friends. And then, of course, in a typical Glassian moment she wrenches what appears to be a story trundling sedately to its happy conclusion completely out of shape – in an exact duplicate of the way we all know life can behave. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. She has a mean streak a mile wide, that woman.
It isn’t only Zeke, Iris and the others who have been on a blue air ride (see what Lisa did there?) these past three years; in a very real sense we’ve travelled with them every step of the way – and a thoroughly knackering and emotional journey it’s been too.
I really envy anyone who’s coming to the trilogy for the first time, because they’ll get to read the whole story without developing ulcers and chewed nails from having to wait a WHOLE YEAR to find out what happens next. The thing with Lisa is that you can’t absolutely guarantee everyone will live happily ever after. I’ve never really forgiven her for that stunt she pulled at the end of Blue …
Eve: I resoundingly agree with everything already said. To take the trilogy as a whole I think the character progression is astoundingly brilliant. Blue introduces us to this wildly different, fantastically unique band of characters whom we grew to love and occasionally hate – and in the beginning the main characters are quite young and naïve. By Air they’re growing up and becoming adults and dealing well (and badly) with far more complex situations. Now we’re at Ride and the conclusion to the tale of Iris and Zeke becomes incredibly emotional, not only for them but for us as readers. I felt so totally invested in their lives. But not only Iris and Zeke: Lisa has really made sure that every single character has had an appropriate and measured journey and I utterly applaud her for that. I would like to single out for special mention the amount of humour in Ride. Parts of the novel are quite dark, adult and emotional so she’s expertly balanced that out with more laughs than in the previous two novels. Kelly is often uproariously funny.
Moira: I love Kelly – she deserves a book all of her own …
Eve: And her friendship with Iris is just so wonderfully drawn. A really fabulous, supportive best friend situation which can be overlooked in favour of rivalry or bitching. They are so warm together. There are some shockers though – something happens towards the end that you just would never expect and I gasped, scared the dogs and had to put the book down, go for a glass of water and gather myself. As ever her descriptions of the landscape are stunning. There’s a particular scene with coasteering which had me wiping my sweaty palms on my jumper, I actually felt as though I was there. And it sounds terrifying!
Hilary: Violently agreeing with Eve here, I LOVE the supportive female relationships portrayed here – even in competitive situations, and also between the generations. It’s always a big positive point for me to see fictional characters modelling respect and mutual regard, of which there cannot be too much in this world.
Moira: Absolutely right – and kindness, which is a hugely underrated quality. When push comes to shove, they’re all decent people: screwed up and wrong-headed at times, but decent … In fact the trilogy, although firmly rooted in the here and now has a quite touchingly old-fashioned heart.
Eve: I have to admit that this is my absolute favourite series ever and I will very much miss spending summers in Newquay with my adopted family, (if only!). I really hope that everyone making summer reading lists puts all of these books on it, right at the top because they are undoubtedly made for sun lounger binge-reading.