Posts tagged ya
Posts tagged ya
Life of Pi is not a book I’d like to read again (too many descriptions of disemboweling turtles and fish for my stomach to handle), but I really, really did like it the first time through. Some might claim it’s a bit sentimental or heavy handed, but I thought it was a nice little adventure story that gave you something to think about at the end. Besides, as evidenced earlier lists, I like books with animals, and tigers used to be one of my favorite animals when I was a child.
The Jane Austen Book Club is one of two books I read this year that actually got me to fall in love with a character. I loved Prudie (not as much as I loved Miller in Leviathan Wakes but still enough to make an impression). The book itself was also nice. I never got bored while reading and, for the most part, I even avoided skimming. It helps that I love Jane Austen and love reading about other people who love Jane Austen. The Jane Austen Book Club is actually a perfect companion to All About Austen. Both are great for the Janeite who wants more Jane Austen but wishes to avoid all those fan fiction novels.
I hate to be obvious, but, of course, my favorite YA book this year is Fault in Ours Stars. I read it because Tumblr couldn’t seem to keep quiet about it, and I was really glad that I did. It’s insightful, sweet, and not at all sappy. If you’re tired of all those Twilight and Hunger Games rip-offs, this is definitely a YA book that will renew your appreciation of the genre. For once, the hype is earned.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is an adorable, little, romantic comedy of a book. It’s like all those great, old, talky romcoms that didn’t have to have twenty main characters or action sequences to enhance the plot. It’s like When Harry Met Sally or Before Sunrise but for teens. Hopeless romantic that I am, I love love stories—-so I was a bit of a sucker for this book. Again, this book isn’t sappy or overwrought. It’s cute, and I really liked it.
Cliff Richards wants nothing more than to go into space. When he announces his aspirations to his father, his dad assists him in getting the education he will need to get into a good college and work toward his goal. Unfortunately, all their hard work comes to naught when Cliff fails to get into Caltech or any other top tier school.
A Monster Calls is the story of Connor, a thirteen year old boy who’s mother has cancer, and the monster who visits him.
Connor’s been having a nightmare. Night after night after night. This nightmare is the most terrifying thing he’s ever experienced, and so when the yew tree near his house comes to life, he isn’t scared a bit. The yew monster offers to tell Connor three true stories about the other times he has come walking if Connor will agree to tell him his true story. Connor knows that the monster wants the story of his nightmare, but in the end, he agrees. At 12:07, whether day or night, the monster comes and tells Connor the stories. Connor listens to the stories but grows annoyed. These are not traditional fairy tales where good conquers evil. In the monster’s stories, it is difficult to tell right from wrong, good from evil. While Connor is trying to work out the meaning of the stories, he is also dealing with his mother’s illness. She’s getting worse and worse, and soon his grandmother comes to stay with them. He can’t stand his grandmother and he hates her insinuations that he will come to live with her “after.” Deep down, Connor hopes that the monster has come to save his mother, but the monster keeps it’s purpose to itself until the very end.
A Monster Calls was a magnificent book, and I absolutely loved it. This sort of thing is my cup of tea. I love stories about stories, and it’s just great when an author realizes the power of telling tales. And that’s part of what this book is about—the healing power of stories. But it’s not only about stories. It’s also about a teenager dealing with the uncertainty of his mother’s illness. The mother/son story line is handled with great care and a heavy dose of reality. This is a great book for anyone going through an illness of a family member. It validates the feelings of the onlooker. It gives the non-sick partner the right to feel scared, angry, and confused. It doesn’t condemn any feeling. A Monster Calls successfully uses stories to teach truths that would be difficult to accept otherwise.
Patrick Ness’ book is a testament to the power of stories, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It’s just that good.
Imagine Heroes set during the Roaring Twenties, and you’ve got a fairly accurate idea of Libba Bray’s new novel, Diviners.
Diviners follows the story of Evie, a seventeen year old who’s been exiled to New York after she sullied the name of a prominent family in her hometown of Zenith, Ohio. She’s living with her Uncle Will, the curator at the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, when a ritualistic murder spree begins in the city. Evie, gifted with the ability to abstract memories from objects, decides that she can help catch the killer.
Evie’s story is the main plotline in the novel, but there are plenty more characters and viewpoints. There’s two brothers in Harlem with special abilities. A boy who can go invisible. A cyborg. A blind beggar who might not be as benign as he appears. Two strange sisters who keep saying “They are coming.” A man in a top hat who might be the big bad. And Theta, a dancehall girl, and her gay BFF, Henry, who both have abilities. All these stories beef out the 550+ page and are far too much to cover in a book review.
Diviners is a fast paced, well-plotted novel. Thankfully, the story never seems to lag. If it did, the size of this book would seem far more daunting. There’s a lot in here to keep your attention, and there’s definitely plenty of characters for you to either love or hate. The Naughty John plotline is interesting, but it never gets too gory. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. The side plots never weigh down the story or break up the action. Everything is well situated, and no character is forgotten. (Again, I’m not entirely convinced that’s a good thing.) There’s definite character growth for Evie and some of the other characters. And finally, we have a love triangle that takes the back seat to the plot. The book is just a fun ride. I got caught up in it, and you probably will too. Libba Bray isn’t a magnificent writer, but she certainly has improved since the Great and Terrible Beauty series. This book is far better than her others and is far better than most recent YA books. This is not some Twilight regurgitation or Hunger Games rip-off. This is a supernatural novel that can stand on it’s own two feet. And it’s very readable. Of course, there are caveats.
Reading Diviners is what I imagine reading the script bible of Lost would be like. The mythology is so overly complicated that it’s nearly comical. We have young people with supernatural powers, cyborgs, secret government agencies, and all manner of creepy characters that could be anything from mythological creatures to certifiable loons. I certainly hope this is not a trilogy, because there is no way she could wind all this stuff together in the space of three books—even if they are astronomical in length. The mish mash of everything is just too much. There were many characters in this book that weren’t even given a name. How am I supposed to still remember nameless characters by the time the next book comes out? I’ll be luck if I remember half the subplots by next week. This book felt like a novelization of a first series of a television show. That isn’t a good thing. I wish she had kept the first book simpler and shorter. Really, the main plotline is the only one that matters to the first book’s plot. We didn’t need introduced to everyone and everything at once. It’s just too much. And as I have no intention of rereading this book again, I’ll probably never finish the series because I’ll just be confused when I read the second book. Wait, who’s the Asian girl with green eyes? Was there a blind dude? What could those kids from Harlem do again? Thankfully, the plot of the first book is wound up—meaning that if you don’t want to go further with the series, you’ll still have the ending for the Naughty John story.
The book was well paced and exciting, but as the first book is a series, it’s a bit daunting. I recommend you read it at your own risk.
Orca Books, Olympia, WA (by Sarah Enni)
Evelina by Frances Burney
Sorcery and Cecelia by Patrica C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
What Your Favorite YA Series Says About You
Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
You spent several of your formative years wishing you could be way cooler than you really were. But then again, who didn’t?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
You haven’t been to Comic Con, but you desperately want to go. Also, you may or may not have too many towels in your house.
The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still your favorite TV show. No, wait, make that Angel.
Discworld (Tiffany Aching books), Terry Pratchett
You tend to question your own assumptions and those of others. The side effect of this is that you spend a good deal of time wondering if the world will collapse when an elephant sneezes.
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
You’ve got muddy sneakers on under that party dress.
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
You really, really think you would win in a fight to the death with 23 other people. You wouldn’t, though.
Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
You bake pies and knit and are probably a really lovely person.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares
You just can’t give up wearing favorite item of clothing from when you were a teenager, regardless of the fact that it’s stained and ragged and looks terrible on you now. Your friends are no help in this matter.
The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Susan Cooper
You wish you had more uncles. And brothers, for that matter.
Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, Francesca Lia Block
You were a pretty weird teenager, and you’ve grown up to be a pretty weird adult. But you’re pretty happy with that (as you should be).
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
You very much enjoy taking long road trips with your ragtag group of friends.
The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer
Sometimes, you want things you can’t have SO BADLY, you guys. We know, it hurts.
The Earthsea Cycle, Ursula K. LeGuin
You irritate all your friends by constantly asking them to tell you their “true” names. Some of them are just named “Ralph,” okay?
Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
You’re really, really protective of your best friend. Like seriously, back off.
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Louise Rennison
You may or may not be a complete Anglophile, but you definitely know what it feels like to be knocked out by your nunga-nungas. Metaphorically, of course.
The Giver Series, Lois Lowry
You never wear black and you love to tell stories.
The Uglies, Scott Westerfield
You were pretty disappointed that you didn’t automatically turn into a supermodel when you hit sixteen, but you’ve learned to live with it.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede
You’re a smart aleck and kind of a badass — that is, you know all the places where a young lady is supposed to scream for help, but you generally prefer to rely on your sword hand. Also you make a killer cherries jubilee.
The Hush, Hush Saga, Becca Fitzpatrick
You assume that any bad boy is really a fallen angel — but you don’t necessarily think they can be saved.
The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Jonathan Stroud
You can never quite tell if your best friend is evil or not, but you’ve decided that it doesn’t much matter. He’s probably thinking the same thing about you.
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
You’re pretty much the only person in your family who isn’t mortally terrified of their own self-awareness. Good for you.
Divergent, Veronica Roth
You spend a lot of time thinking about which of your own attributes you like the best.
Alphas, Lisi Harrison
You kind of wish you could roll America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, and American Idol into one show, and then live in it.
Delirium, Lauren Oliver
You’re into taking calculated risks with very serious diseases. We advise caution with that love sickness.
The Time Quintet, Madeleine L’Engle
You are an epic nerd, but that’s how you’re going to save the world.
Pretty Little Liars, Sara Shepard
Your hair is full of secrets.
The Abhorsen Trilogy, Garth Nix
People think it’s weird that your pets are your best friends, but you know better.
Gossip Girl, Cecily Von Zeigesar
You’ve probably never been to New York City.
The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Diana Wynne Jones
You always seem to land on your feet.
by Emily Temple, Flavorwire
I just sent this horror story to a YA ezine. It’s told from the point of view of a Rusalka. She basically drags men into rivers and eats them. On second thought, some people might not think this appropriate for teens. Views, anyone?