I'm a little behind on my reviewing. I've been on Winter Break and I've been whipping through YA novels. So, today I'm going to do some mini-reviews of the things I've been reading.
Beth Revis, Across the Universe
*I received this ARC from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Razorbill Books.
This book comes out on 1-11-11 and is pretty hotly anticipated as far as I can tell. The publisher describes the books as "Titanic meets Brave New World," which for some readers - like myself - might be reason not to read it. However, for whatever reason, I got sucked right into this one. I have been reading a lot of dystopian YA lately, and I found the world that Revis created to be unique. The novel is the story of a voyage to a new planet aboard a ship called the Godspeed that is set to take 300 years. One of the point of view narrator's is Amy, a young girl, who with her parents has been frozen for the journey, so that they can help settle the new planet upon arrival. However, Amy is awoken suddenly to find herself a part of the strange, monoracial, possibly brainwashed society on board the ship, a society that has been developing for the past few centuries. The narrative is part mystery, part science fiction, part fairly typical YA romance plot. I thought that the premise was unique, and the characters were well-developed, in particular, Elder, the future leader of the ship and second point of view narrator, whose struggle between what he has been taught and what he is beginning to know, is engaging and realistic. Overall: A-
John Green and David Levithan, Will Grayson Will Grayson
Was there anything this good written for teenagers when I was a teenager? I really don't think there was. I definitely don't think there was anything this good for GLBT teens when I was a teenager. I remember being totally enthralled with Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books, but other than that I read these Lurlene McDaniel books for kids with cancer (don't ask) and Christopher Pike. I enjoy a good Christopher Pike, but this is literature, and I don't remember anything like it from my teenhood (maybe I'm wrong? Just a dolt?).
Anyway, if you can't tell already, I kind of liked it. John Green's Will Grayson in particular was a character that accurately embodied many of the struggles of adolescence for me. One of the things that I enjoy about YA is that it reminds of how immediate it was to be a teenager, how every event, every thought was heightened (this is represented very well by the second- David Levithan's Will). In particular, the friendship between Will #1 and Tiny Cooper is such a real friendship: each party living in a self-centered world and forgetting that the relationship between them has a life of its own, which also requires attention and care and might be spinning out of contral. So, lovely. And Tiny Cooper and his musical? Brilliant. Overall: a strong A.
Carol Lynch Williams, The Chosen One
If I were reviewing this book on emotional impact alone, I would give it an A. This is the story of a young girl, thirteen-year-old Kyra, who learns that she has been chosen to marry her fifty plus year old uncle Hyrum. She lives on a fundamentalist, polygamist compound, but she is a bit of a rebel. She reads books -which of course, is awesome - and she is falling for a young boy, her own age. There is a long tradition of reading as a means to freedom, perhaps most famously exemplified by Frederick Douglass in his narrative of his life, in which he credits the written word as freeing him from slavery. [Spoiler Alert] The library's traveling book mobile is Kyra's ticket to freedom and the ending of the novel is emotionally satisfying, but not saccharine. There are also many emotionally painful moments: like when one of Kyra's mothers is asked to punish her crying baby by immersing her in freezing water. My biggest wish for this book is that the characters were as strong as the emotions; however, I would still recommend it. Overall: B+