by Laini Taylor
I should have read this a LONG time ago. Whoa, what powerful punches Laini Taylor manages to deal to the readers — over and over — so many surprises and things going just the opposite of what one expects. Lots of gore. Tortured romance. Amazing magical inventiveness. Just too much fun in one book. Should not be allowed! But, how happy I am to have read the second installment — and that I HAVE to read the 3rd book because it’s nominated by fellow BFYA members. So excited. But I’m reading another book, not yet nominated, first. Can’t have all the goodies at once!
by Shannon Hale
Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Romance, Thriller
Basic Content Information: We follow two main teen characters with a supporting cast of adults (from trustworthy, to uncertain to purely evil) into a futuristic world that does not seem too different from our own except that some scientific discoveries and advancements have led the humans to encounter alien materials and finally aliens themselves. The story is narrated from Maisie’s (mixed-race White/Latina) first person point of view, mostly in past tense. Maisie is the brain and eventually also the brawn behind most of the operations and actions. Her off and on, slightly torturous romance with Wilder (Jonathan) is what I came to expect from a Shannon Hale novel – whether Fantasy, Graphic Novel, or now, a SciFi. The book is divided into 3 parts and could have easily been expanded and milked into a trilogy – but we got the whole story in one shot instead.
Edition: Paper Galley
Pub Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury, USA
(I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)
Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.
This is one gorgeously written book. Laini Taylor knows how to create a fresh, inventive fantasy world of dark and unsettling magic and she writes with such relish of words and phrase turns that I felt I was treated to a feast of poetry and imagination. And I loved every bite and sip. And because she knew how to portion her offerings, at the end of the long meal, I felt simply satisfied and not overly stuffed. I fell in love with Karou, the 17-year-old main character who straddles the human and the “monster” worlds. She is artistic, fiercely loyal, and full of mystery. And that love sustains throughout the tale. The Madrigal chapters slow down the pace a bit and I did get a bit impatient to get back to the Karou story (although Madrigal’s IS part of her tale, too, the placement and the length of this part did disrupt the flow of the telling for me) and was a bit annoyed that the story does not end at the conclusion of this volume.
by John Green and David Levithan
Both John Green and David Levithan are known for their witticism, and both also have created stories where things get out of hand, and the reality just seems larger than life/real — I often think of it as “ultra realism.” And in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, you get a double dose of this over-the-top tone: Their nerds are just nerdier, their gay characters gayer, their jokes funnier, their sorrows more desperate, and their big finale of a High School Musical is so improbable that readers just have to suspend ALL disbelief (WILLINGLY) and simply enjoy the ride.
I enjoyed it for sure. I laughed out loud many times — both are so good at coming up with amazingly intelligent and painfully truthful funny one-liners (or one-paragraphers.)
What intrigued me the whole way was how these two YA superstar authors collaborated. Did they challenge each other with surprising scenarios or was it all planned out? Am I right in assuming that one wrote the Gay Will Grayson part and the other the Straight Will Grayson part? Who wrote which? (I thought I got it down from the beginning but now I’m not so entirely sure!)
One of my high school students read the book (a big Levithan fan, didn’t know John Green and now became a fan, too) and did not love love it because it reminds this student too much of the REAL life drama that goes on around the group of friends. It probably is painful.
No matter how ultra realistic this novel is, so much truth is dragged up from the bottom of a teenager’s heart that one cannot but admire the authors’ deep connection with their own inner teens and their abilities to capture all those feelings in words.
Written by Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale
Published by Bloomsbury USA, 2008
Middle Grades (3-6)
Lily just got back from summer camp and picked up this book in the living room. I read it last week and fell in love with the story, the characters, the illustrations, and the graphic novel design of the entire package. I was pleased to find that Lily couldn’t put the book down. After she finished it, we had a little chat. The one thing that surprised me was that in Lily’s mind, the setting isn’t all that unconventional for a Rapunzel tale while to me, the setting is one of the most intriguing features since I always placed Rapunzel as a European story set in the deep woods.
Here’s our chat:
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