Thursday, December 30, 2010

Woo hoo!

I just realized that I've had this blog for one year!

Even though the young adult novels have been few and far between these days, I am proud that I've kept up this blog. I look forward to a future filled with stacks of YA books!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why is YA fiction so dark?

The New York Times has a really interesting debate on why there are so many dystopian young adult novels these days. Several authors that I really respect weigh in. Check it out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hush, Hush

I have been wanting to read Hush, Hush since it came out, but couldn't justify shelling out $18 for a book I would probably read in two hours. Still, that cover called to me every time I passed a bookstore. I finally found a used copy in Seoul and dug right in.

Maybe it was the anticipation, but I was really disappointed in Becca Fitzpatrick's novel. I love the fantasy romance genre, but thought that Hush, Hush was a pale imitation of Twilight and Shiver. It's too bad, because the idea of a fallen angel in Maine makes me really excited.

Unfortunately, this plot is implausible and the characters are beyond unlikable. Nora, the protagonist, claims to be very intelligent, but spends the entire novel making foolish choices, mostly regarding her love interest, Patch. It's no secret (even from the cover) that Patch is a fallen angel and meant to be a bad boy. There is a fine line between the misunderstood bad boy (Jordan Catalano, Rhett Butler, James Dean, Sawyer from 'Lost') and an absolute jerk. Patch falls into the latter category; there is nothing in his character that makes him appealing.

The secondary characters are no more enjoyable. Nora's best friend Vee is such a stereotype of a sidekick and a mean one at that, not a friend I'd want for any of my students. Mrs. Grey, Nora's mother, is a recent widow, but still travels constantly for business, leaving her teenage daughter alone for weeks at a time. I want to call 'shenanigans' on all authors that rely so heavily on the absent parent. A YA reader may come to believe that most teenagers have one deceased parent and another who is never around. Really, it is just lazy writing.

I will donate this to my old school's library because they can always use new books. But I would love to talk to the students who read Hush, Hush about their thoughts and how it compares to other novels in this genre.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Boom

What happens when you are a successful author with no new books on the horizon and an old YA book with an awkward name (Gridzbi Spudvetch!) gathering dust on the shelf? You spruce it up a bit, rename it Boom, and release it again!

Overall, Mark Haddon's novel Boom is worth the read. While it's no The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, it is a fun read that will appeal to middle school boys. Jimbo and Charlie are two London boys with a penchant from troublemaking. When they overhear their teachers speaking a secret language and communicating via brass bracelets, their investigations lead to breaking and entering, kidnapping, and some encounters with characters straight out of the fantasy genre.

The British slang is in full effect in Boom; that could either engage readers or turn them off, depending on their diligence. To the adult reader, the climax scene dragged on. I could see where things would end up and wanted to finally get there. Younger readers might not see the plot points and may have more patience!

Still, it is worth checking out of the library and reading the first chapter aloud to a class. It will definitely hook some would-be pranksters who may have their own suspicions about what teachers are really up to.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Challenge Completed!

Today I finished my 100th book this year and am celebrating completing J. Kaye's 100+ Challenge. I thought I would finish sooner, but it feels like I am squeaking it in. I'm going to blame it on the lack of library access for the past 4 months. Time for a celebratory hot chocolate!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening

Terrible.

Maybe it's the fact that I just finished a Bill Bryson book. Maybe it's that I listened to the audiobook (complete with horrendous accents). Whatever the case, The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening is the worst book I've read this year.

I enjoy supernatural lit, but L.J. Smith's version (published in 1991), has nothing to give it distinction in the field. Elena, the popular protagonist, is unlikable and unkind to everyone around her. It is impossible to read this novel without thinking of Twilight. The mysterious vampire, the love triangle, the friends that just don't understand. Sullen and wimpy as she could be, Bella Swan was a relatable protagonist who did not deliberately set out to hurt her classmates. Elena's initial attraction to Stefan, the dangerous new vampire in town, was strictly to show her classmates that she could get anything she wanted.

Young adult novels are getting harder and harder to come by in South Korea...a message to everyone out there who has reading options: don't pick this!