Study Guide

Wings Appearances

By Aprilynne Pike

Appearances

Laurel rolled her eyes […]

She might be homeschooled and a little sheltered, but she knew she looked a lot like the teens in the magazines and on television. And she liked it. (1.66-67)

We're not saying Laurel's vain or that her appearance has gone to her head, but she knows she's hot stuff. Later, of course, we find out that she's a faerie, and since faeries are plants, their appearances are perfectly symmetrical (which is viewed as attractive in humans). Now we're wondering whether any supermodels are actually faeries masquerading as humans…

Laurel couldn't help but stare.

She'd seen guys running around without shirts countless times, but somehow this was different. She watched his arms flex as he reached a particularly thick patch of grass and had to force the mower to keep going. Her chest felt a little tight. (4.30-31)

David mowing the lawn shirtless is apparently quite a sight. Maybe they should start selling tickets. We get it: He's an attractive teenage boy, and to Laurel, who's never really had feelings for anyone before, seeing him is setting off all kinds of reactions in her. We wonder how much of the equation is his looks, and how much is his kindness and willingness to help Laurel whenever with whatever. This boy is the total package.

That night Laurel examined her hair closely. Did she need to wash it? But it looked and felt the same as it always did. She turned her back to the mirror and poked and prodded the bump. It had been a tiny thing on Saturday morning, but over the weekend it had grown pretty big. "Hell of a first zit," Laurel grumbled to her reflection. (4.59)

Having a conversation with Chelsea about hair care has made Laurel insecure about her own routine (or lack thereof). This, on top of the bump growing on her back, makes her wonder about her appearance and her body. Is she normal? Does she even want to be normal? All the stuff we wonder about when we look in the mirror, too (minus the big bump issue).

Monday was Laurel's first day of school with the huge bloom on her back […] She met David in the front atrium before school and he assured her several times that he couldn't tell there was anything under her shirt. (7.75)

High school totally intensifies people's feelings about their appearances, so it's no wonder Laurel is freaking out about whether her blossom is showing and people could see it. Teenagers can be mean… why give 'em more ammo by letting your weirdness hang out in plain sight?

Her dad laughed. "Yeah. Probably a football player who took one too many hits. But you can't base your opinion on the way someone looks. Remember that whole book-and-cover thing?" (7.56)

Barnes gives off a creepy vibe to Laurel, and at first, she can only chalk it up to his strange looks (since she doesn't yet know about the existence of trolls or faeries). Her dad, who seems like a fair guy overall, urges her to give him the benefit of the doubt and not judge a book by its cover. That seems like a good rule of thumb, unless, of course, you're dealing with a troll. Then you should definitely judge a book by its cover.

Enraptured, Laurel just stared. His green-and-black hair hung in long strands that fell across his forehead, just shy of his eyes. He was dressed in a loose white shirt that looked homemade and similarly styled brown baggy pants that tied just below the knees. They were decidedly old-fashioned, but he made them seem as trendy as the rest of him. (8.52)

Tamani's appearance is a strange mix of new and old. His clothing is definitely traditional-looking, as in he'd totally fit in at a Renaissance Faire, but his bright green hair and eyes make him look like someone who'd belong at a hacker or body modification convention. The contrast is so appealing and novel, it's no wonder Laurel doesn't know what to do with herself.

She opened her eyes and stood to look in the mirror. She gasped and laughed as she turned her face to one side, then the other, letting the fading sunlight catch the glitter on her cheekbones and around her eyes. And her hair was full of glitter that sparkled and fell to decorate her dress when she shook her head. She almost didn't recognize herself amid the glitter and glimmer of the face paint and the tinsel on her shoulders (12.32).

When David helps Laurel dress up as a faerie for the school dance, the effect is a dramatic change that helps Laurel see herself differently. Normally you don't get results that drastic without going on one of those makeover reality television shows, but hey, now we know not to underestimate what glitter can do for anyone (except maybe trolls).

As she walked, everyone made way for her "wings." People who'd never spoken to her before sought her out to tell her how cool her costume was. Everywhere she looked people were watching her. (12.60)

If you needed any confirmation that high school is basically a popularity contest based on physical appearances, here you have it. Laurel is normally too shy to meet a lot of people at school and become well-known, but the dramatic effect of her faerie costume makes such an impression that people go out of their way to compliment her. Oh, high school… where appearances matter like crazy.

"I told you I can make humans forget they saw me, right? […] That's what they did to you. Once you were at the age that you could pass for a human child, they made you forget your faerie life." (14.166-168)

It must be strange to learn that you have a whole past you don't even know about, and Laurel must've been one really cute kid for her human caretakers to decide to take her in and adopt her. It's also interesting to consider the fact that faerie children's looks don't reflect how mature they are in human terms.

"I've seen troll babies so badly misshapen that even their ugly mothers wouldn't keep them. Legs growing out of their heads, necks set sideways into shoulders. It's a terrible sight…And it's more than just the physical. The stupider you are—the worse evolution screwed you up—the less symmetrical you are." (21.20)

So much for not judging a book by its cover, eh? Since trolls, through a quirk of evolution, take on more asymmetrical traits according to how stupid they are, you should definitely judge a troll by its, er, cover. Or skin. Or whatever. We're also open to the idea that Tamani is being a little biased here, since obviously faeries are at the height of physical perfection due to their utter symmetry. What would a troll have to say about its own appearance?