Friday, August 22, 2014

Trends I love In YA

So I have noticed a few trends that are starting to surface in young adult fiction that I absolutely love, and I wanted to write this blog to highlight those and why I like them.

Multiple Point Of View:

If you follow my blog you HAVE to know by now that I love novels that are in multiple perspectives. When it is done well. (I'm looking at you Allegiant). I think it's apart of the reason that I ended up picking up Game of Thrones, but I have read a few recent novels that have been really good at utilizing the dual or multiple perspective narration. Two that I have reviewed on this blog are Lauren Oliver's Panic and Neal Shusterman's Unwind Dystology.

I liked Oliver's take because she used the dual male and female narratives, and I liked Shusteman's use of it because he wrote a small chapter in the perspective of a freaking plane and it still was effective. I'm starting to see this trend in YA more often as of late, and I am a huge fan of it. Give me more of it!

Companion Novels, Not Series:

Another trend I have noticed emerging lately is authors writing in the same 'verse but books that are not necessarily a series. So instead of a traditional series where the second and third books surround the same protagonist, we are given another story from a character we have already met. Sometimes there may even be a shift in time. I love this concept, because what if you like the writing and the minor characters but want to punch the main character in the face?

I think I first started noticed something like this when I was in high school devouring Sarah Dessen novels. Dessen puts in cameos of her characters in her books, so if you have read them all you will notice characters from her older works passing by. I always liked that about her novels. These cameos were not quite companion novels, so I think the first series I actually read that utilized this literary trend was the Graceling Realm Trilogy by Kristin Cashshore. Graceling also uses the time aspect in her series, since the second book actually goes backward in time to explain how that realm came to be.

Stephanie Perkins is also using the companion series with her books Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and The Happily Ever After. Which I really love, because Anna annoyed me a bit so I hope I can like Lola and Isla better. Another book that I am so happy employs the use of companion novels is Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assassin series. I am only on the first one, Grave Mercy, but I think the concept is so cool that I'm really interested to read Sybella and Annith's stories as well as Ismae's.


Okay, so this is not necessarily a trend, but I think something that is starting to emerge in YA writing and needs to continue. I love the We Need Diverse Books Campaign, that I could probably write a whole blog about why I think it's so important.

So here's the thing, not everyone is a 5 foot 1 white girl from PA like me, and I wouldn't want any reader to be alienated by a book because who they are is not represented. We cling to the characters in the books we read, because we see ourselves in them. I think readers need more ways to connect to those characters, and that means more characters that represent them. That could mean a diversity of race, body types, sexual orientation, etc. I truly believe that this push for diversity in books overall, not only in young adult books, will lead to a change in literature for the better.

So what trends in Young Adult fiction do you love? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reads, Everyone!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Girl In The Road: A Book review

I was really cautious when I began The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne, because the first two books I have received for review from Blogging For Books were awful. It looks like the third time was the charm.

Byrne pleasantly surprised me with her loosely sci-fi book set in India and Africa, which unraveled the tales of Mariama and Meena. I liked that Byrne's book was in a non-Western setting, mostly because that forced me out of my reading comfort zone to focus on a culture very different from my own.

I've heard this book been called a dystopia, but I don't think that's accurate. It was set in a futuristic society full of political unrest and war, must like the world we live in now, and I think that's what made it so realistic. I think this book is not just about the problems with society, but it was also about how these two women deal with the consequences of their tragic romances. 

One of the other things I liked about this book was like Byrne wrote Meena with a fluid sexuality. I don't think she was written under any sort of sexual orientation label, I think she just loved who she loved, or rather lusted after, and I kind of liked that idea. 

I love multiple perspective in books, so I was a huge fan of the back and forth between Meena and Mariama's timelines. The only problem I had was that I kept wondering when their stories would collide. It wasn't until much later in the novel, but the way their lives connected was not what I had been expecting. 

I can't write much more about this novel without giving a lot of the plot away, so I will just say that I found this debut novel to be enjoyable. I think it lost me a bit with the ending, but overall I did really like it, and I would recommend it. I'm giving it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

*I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review. Click here for Monica Byrne's author bio and more info on Girl In The Road.

Happy Reads, Everyone!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Before I Fall: A Book Review

Let me start out by saying that when you begin Before I Fall By Lauren Oliver, you will not like the protagonist Sam Kingston. Sam is a bitch. She's a mean, popular girl and she is everything that I was not when I was in high school. I really liked Oliver's novel Panic, but I did struggle with the personality of the character Heather in that book, so I was hoping I could eventually get used to Sam. It took me a really long time to get into this book, but once I did I seemed to melt into it.

It's really hard to say much about the beginning of the story without giving it away, but Sam spends a week reliving one day in a Groundhog Day like fashion. The book only has seven chapters to show how the day changed each time she relived it, so the chapters are long but I felt like they went by so fast. I just really wanted to keep on reading to find out what she was going to do to change the course of events. Could she really make amends for how horrible she had been to the people around her?

The book is a pretty interesting philosophical look on life, so I think it's one of those "Young Adult Fiction" books that can benefit everyone. (Although, I think anyone can read the genre). It also is heavy on the theme that your actions do speak louder than words, and they can have weighty consequences. This book was what I thought More Than This was going to be like, and Oliver again blew me away and inspired me with her writing.

One fair warning though, you will not like the ending. Life isn't fair and you don't always get the happily ever after ending, and I kind of like that Oliver didn't tie everything up in a nice bow. I'm giving this one a 7 out of 10.

Happy Reads, Everyone!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Anna and The French Kiss: A Book Review

I have some mixed feelings fro Stephanie Perkins' novel Anna and the French Kiss. I liked this book, but I also didn't like it, and I'll try to explain that as best I can.

Anna's dad is a fiction writer, whom sounds an awful lot like Nicholas Sparks, wants to send her to a boarding school in Paris, and Anna is pissed about it. Look, I understand not wanting to be uprooted from your life and I totally get not knowing the language of the country, but I think Anna didn't allow herself to be open to new experiences. I feel like she took too long to make the best of her situation, and that irritated me.

Perkins did win me over because the characters felt so real to me. Even though Anna did some really dumb things and I wanted to slap her with the book she came from, I really did come to like her. I also liked that she was so into old movies. I thought that was a cool personality trait to include. I felt like all of Anna's friends were pretty well developed, except for Josh. I think there is another layer to him that Perkins will peel back for her readers in Isla and the Happily Ever After, so at least there is that.

Sort of spoilers after the jump!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tired of Dystopia? Try These Historical Fiction Books Instead!

This is probably going to be the last installment in my Tired of Dystopia blog series. So today, I am going to be giving some suggestions for some time period/historical fiction books. As always if you have any more suggestions leave me a comment below.

Number The Stars By Lois Lowry
I think this book might be my favorite book, which is a hard thing for me to say, but it has been a book that has remained close to my heart. I read this book in the third grade and it was the first time I learned about what exactly happened in World War II. This story is more about the Danish Resistance and how they helped to rescue the Danish Jews from internment camps. It's also about the power of friendship between two young girls. 

Girl in Blue By Ann Rinaldi

Girl In Blue tells the story of strong willed Sarah Louisa who instead of marrying her neighbor, she runs away from home and disguises herself as a solider in the Civil War. The novel turns into more than just a story of a woman pretending to be a man in the army, as she eventually gets involved with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The book is very intriguing especially for someone who knows little about the Civil War time period.   

Friday, August 1, 2014

Inkheart: A Book Review

Let me preface this by saying, before you watch any movie double check it's not a book first. That was my mistake with Inkheart. I watched the movie adaptation of Cornelia Funke's book a few years ago and I had no idea it was a book. I'm really disappointed in myself because at times when I was reading I kept picturing the movie, and I just wanted this story to play out in my head. All that aside, Inkheart was a pretty interesting book, and I had no idea it was a trilogy!

The novel is about a family that is torn apart because the father Mo can read things in and out of this book called Inkheart. This leads him to reading out the villain of the story who wants to exploit his talents, and thus the adventure in Funke's story unravels. I think one of the misconceptions about the story is that it is the book that has the special powers, but it is actually Mo who has the talents to bring the world of any book to life. I really liked that aspect of the story.

I think this is a novel that is for bookworms, which is something you get early on in the story. In the beginning when Meggie and her father Mo are fleeing their house, Meggie is trying to decide which books to take with her in her book box. The two never leave home without their favorite books, and I loved that about this book. Mo is a book doctor, he fixes bindings and keeps out literally book worms, so I think it was a really nice touch on the publishers side to have the physical book identical to the book jacket around it.

I think this story wrapped up nicely on its own, so I'm curious to see where Funke is heading with it. For this book I'm giving it a 7 out of 10.

What did you think about the book?

Happy Reads, Everyone!