I was at Barnes and Noble this weekend and picked up some awesome titles, including: HUSH, HUSH; GENERATION DEAD; FRAGILE ETERNITY; NUMBERS; and CRACKED UP TO BE.
There was a ton of buzz online a year or so ago when CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers came out. I think I even remember Janet Reid saying it was a must-read. It's been on my TBR list forever, so I started it on Sunday. And finished it last night. That's pretty good when I was at work for about 10 hours a day on Monday and Tuesday.
Summers just has this voice that makes you keep on turning pages. It's an authentic teenage voice, so I do feel I should warn you that there are a lot of F-bombs and drinking and sex and what have you. Definitely edgy YA. Addictive, though.
The book kind of reminded me of 13 REASONS WHY in that this terrible event that happened a year ago kind of ruined the main character's life, and we the reader get little bits and clues about what happened until the very end, when we learn everything. It's a great technique to keep the reader going, but I don't think I could read a bunch of these in a row. It might get old.
Lisa and Laura said the author's next novel, SOME GIRLS ARE, is even better. So I might have to pick that up sometime soon.
I would absolutely suggest this book for older readers. Great characters, great voice, great plot.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Okay, I'd been hearing about this book for ages and just now got a chance to read it! It totally lived up to its incredible reputation. I mean, there's a reason it has a National Book Award Winner stamp on the cover.
Judy Blundell might just be my new writerhero. I don't think there was a cliche or tired use of language in the whole thing. And, like, CONSTANTLY I would look at a sentence and just sigh. Let me flip through it and find one. Okay, I have to quote a paragraph I just found:
"I looked at myself in my spoon. I felt like the girl I saw, upside down and fun-house looking, all stretched out of shape and foolish, just from holding so much want inside."
I mean, does this lady know what it's like to be a teenage girl or what? And that's part of what I love about this book. We're hearing a very serious story from kind of a flawed narrator, just because Evie is so young and naive and idealistic. What floors me is that, even though we are hearing the story from her, we as an audience are given enough details to kind of work out what's going on, even if the protagonist doesn't see it at first. TV Tropes has a a term for a character like Evie, a woobie, a character you just want to snuggle and make everything right for.
This is a novel I would definitely teach my students. It might even be a new To Kill a Mockingbird, quite honestly. It's a coming of age story and deals with themes just as serious as TKAM. And I have a feeling my students will find this book so much more accessible than TKAM (which is an AMAZING book, but my kids just don't seem to latch onto the story like I did when I read it for the first time). At any rate, I will certainly put my copy in my classroom library and encourage students to read it for their independent book projects.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Sometimes reading SYW on Absolute Write makes me soooo jealous of other people's talent. And nervous, too, because if they aren't published yet, what does it mean for me? I just had to comment on someone's snippet and say, "Ack! I'm hooked! Pleeeease let me beta for you!"
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I've seen a lot of talk about how truly strong female YA protagonists are hard to find. And when I look at what I've written, I realize how hard it is to create this type of character. My last few characters have been consumed by angst and introspection, and I'm so annoyed by this. Perhaps the reason it is so hard is because you want your character to grow into herself throughout the story. She needs to have a starting point. But maybe that starting point doesn't need to be weak or wishy-washy. Maybe she can start off strong and just get stronger.
So my goal is to create a really great, strong girl. One who won't whine that everything is hard, everything is their fault, life isn't FAIR! That doesn't mean I'm not going to load on the conflict, but I think the key will be in the narration. She needs to be more concerned about others than herself. She needs to have her head screwed on straight. She needs to not care what everyone else thinks of her. She needs to do what she wants when she wants. She needs to be funny. She needs to be smart. She needs to feel comfortable in her body, but not be absorbed in her looks. She needs to be able to make the hard decisions, but she needs to be able to admit when she makes mistakes. She needs to kick ass.
What are some things that have bothered you about weak protagonists? What makes you like a character and root for them?
Friday, April 2, 2010
I recently blogged about sequels, about how hard they are to do. Well. How hard they are to do well.
But today I've seen an author do it right, I think. My colleague put THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES on top of my desk this morning. It was great timing because my kids were in the computer lab all day, finishing up their edits and submitting their I-Search papers.
I finished half of the book by the end of the school day.
Girl knows how to do a sequel. Though I'm not even sure it can be called a sequel. On the cover, it's touted as a "companion" to THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH.
I'm not spoiling anything by saying the MC is the daughter of the MC in the previous book. Which is pretty brilliant. Enough time has passed that stuff has happened. But instead of having to rehash everything in the first book, Ryan is able to mete out little tidbits about what's happened in between the books. The book can stand on its own for readers who haven't read the first book, but there are just enough references to the first book to satisfy people familiar with the story thus far.
I'm going to finish it tonight.
P.S. I'm sorry I haven't passed on the blog awards I got in the last month or so! Teaching full time, in addition to changing diapers and making bottles in my free time, plus taking care of my husband who has a cast on his right arm, is taking up every minute of the day! I just happen to have a few minutes to myself this evening! A glass of wine, a good book... doesn't get better than that!