DOON by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Don’t miss our StoryMen interview with Doon author Lorie Langdon!
I have a confession: I love the recent plethora of young adult fiction. Not Twilight – I have standards, after all, but it busted the floodgates wide open and now we’re swimming in some great, thoughtful and provocative YA Lit. From Katniss Everdeen and Percy Jackson to the Pure trilogy, the YA world is delighting young adults (and some of us not-so-young) with creative and original fantasy.
Another confession: I don’t often hold Christian art in high regard (at least not since the Renaissance). We tend these days to be derivative. And I say this as a guy who had a Christian Music Recommendation Poster on my bedroom wall in high school. So after the Christian Harry-Potter-Haters had their 15 minutes, I felt sure we were destined for a glut of bad Christian knock-off fiction.
I’m pleased to report that DOON by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon breaks the mold.
Doon is the retelling of the legend of Brigadoon (yes, the one from the Gene Kelly musical). It’s one of the launch titles for Blink, a new YA imprint from Zondervan. If Doon is any indication, Blink is publishing books that have a distinctively Christian worldview but tell stories for their own sake (not to preach or teach). But enough about that. How is Doon?
Doon introduces us to Veronica and McKinna, two girls who plan to spend the summer in Scotland. As they prepare to embark, Veronica begins to have visions of a man in a kilt. Since this is a YA novel (and, you know, there’s a sweet castle on the cover), we’re not surprised that they’re transported into a magical kingdom shortly after they arrive in Scotland, or that the eternal fate of said magical kingdom rests squarely on their shoulders.
Doon is a great YA book. But is it good Christian fiction?
Fair warning: minor Doon spoilers follow.
Neither Veronica nor McKenna is a Christian. But the kingdom of Brigadoon is, explicitly. They attribute their continued existence to the Protector, a clear allegory for the Christian god (and since they’re sort of medieval Scottish, what else would they be?) Though the point of the story isn’t just to talk about God, the mystical nature of Brigadoon forces Vee and Kenna to confront their (lack of) faith.
But their spiritual journeys aren’t artificial or forced. Nor do they resolve clearly (of course, we have been promised three more books). This is the power of fantasy: by putting ordinary teens into an extraordinary scenario, these conversations feel organic.
Since Doon is fantasy, teens thinking deeply about God is probably the most realistic aspect of the story.
More generally, the best part of Doon is the girls themselves. Vee and Kenna feel like real teenage girls. They have real insecurities and a real, strong friendship. As the Doon series gains popularity, we’re going to see their friendship celebrated: far from the frenemy relationships we see in most depictions of teen girls these days, Vee and Kenna are each other’s biggest fans. Far from exploiting each others’ weaknesses, they complement each other, forming a team that’s stronger together.
Speaking of which, Doon also deserves to be commended for its girl-power ending. Despite the fact that they’re telling a modern fairy-tale, Vee and Kenna are no damsels in distress. They drive the plot, they resolve the conflict. They even save the beautiful dudes in distress.
Why should Christians celebrate Doon?
Because it’s got strong female characters who model healthy friendship. Because it has believable, relatable teens thinking honestly and seriously about God. And because this is a story written by two Christians who put the story first and trusted the power of story (and their faith) to be compelling enough. Let’s hope for plenty more where Doon came from.