I got the ARC and loved the title. I assumed this would be a book that poked fun at the teen trope, and laughed at itself a little. I was not prepared for this book to up-end pretty much every one of my expectations. I can’t tell you much without spoiling the book, but it threw 100% of the cliches out the window. This is speculative fiction for sure, and although I’m sure there will be accusations of “SJW utopia, ” I have to say I’m here for it. There is a conscious avoidance of two-dimensional characters, some really interesting concepts, and a lot of things (trans inclusion, lgbtq2+, religious tolerance, indigenous rights) that I was definitely not expecting. This is a very Canadian book, but I hope it finds a wider audience. The role of speculative fiction is to make us question, to be introspective, to think about what we truly want the world to look like. This Victorian world is by no means perfect, but I really like some of the ideas and relationships put forward, and I look forward to getting my kids to read this – and then talking about it with them. It’s releasing next month, and I highly recommend you snap it up. I want to hear what you thought!
Category Archives: Teen Books
If you love a good dystopian YA, Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel, Red Queen is for you. With a lot (and I mean a lot) of parallels to The Hunger Games & Divergent, the characters and plot twists make this read different enough to still be enjoyable, without feeling like you’re just reading on repeat. If you have read Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, this is like a weird parallel universe to that book.
Red Queen is a little more rooted in fantasy territory, and has a unique take on the dystopian theme. The nobility of Red Queen‘s world is distinguished by their innate ability to channel fire or electricity, or possess extreme strength or psychic powers. Their control over the lower class is absolute, who don’t possess any superhuman talents. Imagine the uproar when Mare, a girl of perfectly common blood, suddenly displays her own power – and no one’s surprise is greater than Mare’s.
I won’t get too deeply into the plot and spoil it, but there are some great twists, a little romance, lots of intrigue. Lots, and lots, of intrigue. Like baby Game of Thrones. If you have a teen who is looking for an entry to more sophisticated story lines, this is a good place for them to start.
This is clearly the start of a series – it should be a fun ride.
I am reading my (signed) copy of The Boundless right now. You know those perfect stories? Like Harry Potter, or The Princess Bride. Those books where the story transcends age brackets, genres, and is just perfect? This is that book. Give it to everyone as a gift – they’ll thank you. Would probably make an excellent chapter-a-night bedtime story with ages 9+. Do not leave adults off your gift list with this one. It has also won a few awards already, proving that my opinions on books are always right.
What are the big books this summer? And why should you care?
Well, one of the things that gets people reading, adults included, is recommendations. If kids are hearing their friends talking about this book, and once they are reading it can talk about it, how great is that? It makes a love of reading something they share, and how many times have you felt a bond with someone because they, too, adored a book dear to your heart?
With that in mind, I’ll share some of the titles that are really hot at my store right now, some of which are excellent reads, and feel free to pick them up for yourself, or steal the book when your kid is done with it. Or before, I won’t judge you.
Target age: 9-12
This book didn’t arrive on time in-store – which was the cause of much consternation in my household. My younger daughter is an evangelist for The Land of Stories series, dragging them with her everywhere she goes and forcing other people to read them. They’re very good, bringing to mind classics like Alice in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz, mixing fairytales with real life, the bizarre alongside the mundane. And yes, it’s the Chris Colfer who plays Kurt on Glee who is the author – he really needs to save some talent for other people. A Grimm Warning is the third book in the series, and it’s worth getting them in hardcopy instead of an e-book because of the maps and illustrations in the cover.
Target age 13+, and I really mean the plus
I loved the Divergent trilogy – and Veronica Roth didn’t wuss out on the ending either, unlike the Hunger Games. Four is a series of short stories that take place before the Divergent trilogy, centred around Four’s life before Tris. This can be read as a present for current fans craving more, or as a prologue to the main trilogy for new readers. Good beach reading for everyone, and if you haven’t read the original trilogy, summer is a great time to start.
This trilogy, of which the first two are now out, is a kind of interesting twist on the fairytale theme that’s huge right now in this age group. Every year, two girls or two boys are chosen to attend the school of Good and Evil. One is trained to be a hero, the other a villain. When two best friends are chosen, one golden-haired and sweet, and the other dark haired, odd, and fond of goth-y clothes, they know who’s going where. Their own self-concepts are thrown into disarray when the golden-haired girl is sent to the school of evil, and the goth-in-training is sent to the school of good. This book is flying off the shelves, and anything that shakes up thinking is great by me.
Target age: 13+
I will admit now, that I haven’t read this trilogy, and may not. I am not always in the mood for romance and frou frou dresses. Sometimes, though, that’s exactly what you want, and this series seems to fill that need for teens and adults alike quite nicely. A sort of dystopian version of The Bachelor, the series started with The Selection, where thirty-five girls were in an elimination competition for the crown, and marriage to the prince. The competition is winnowed down through the second book, and now in the third, The One is America Singer’s (cringing at the name) final chance to win the
Miss America Pageant heart of Prince Maxon, and the crown. If you are looking for a frillier version of the Hunger Games, this is it.
I adore Mercedes Lackey, and read pretty much everything she writes. I am currently reading this series she is writing with Rosemary Edghill, a kind of Mystery at the Academy trope, but with enough interesting twists to keep it from being formulaic. Spirit White (hippie parents) ends up at an orphanage after she is the only member of her family to survive a car accident. She finds out once she arrives there that every single person at the orphanage has magic – except apparently her. The orphanage – Oakhurst Academy, is run like a private school for the very rich, with the added curriculum of learning to defend yourself, both physically and with magic, against evil mages who could attack at any minute.
It doesn’t contain as much of Lackey’s signature ironic humour as I would like, but it has enough of it to make reading it enjoyable, and smarter than many teen series, since the kids in it don’t just swallow down everything they’re told and do some of their own investigating. Like a magical Nancy Drew.
Target: 13+ (again, I mean the plus)
Kelley Armstrong is always a really fun read. I loved her Women of the Otherworld series, I am impatiently waiting for the sequel to Omens to come out, and so I was delighted when this arrived, if for no other reason than I think the cover will be my next tattoo.
A really solid, epic fantasy, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn live on the edge of the Forest of the Dead, where the worst criminals are exiled. Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and the Seeker – charged with keeping the souls of the damned quiet – no easy task. This year, the souls will not be quieted – and a great evil ambushes the girls, separating them from eachother and their home, the beginning of their quest to find eachother again, and warn the emperor of what is awakening.
This is book one – I really need to cut down on the number of series I’m reading. Or only read series that are finished. Haha, like that’s going to happen. Sigh.
Oh, and as a bonus for you guys, right now I’m reading Warslayer, by Rosemary Edghill, which is a FREE download on Kobo. Imagine Lucy Lawless getting kidnapped by aliens who think she’s actually Xena and will save them all. It’s silly fun, and perfect for the patio and a cold drink.
Happy summer reading!
Text Story by Kiersten White, Art and Art Story by Jim Di Bartolo
Intended for age 12 and up
I am really excited about this novel of suspense and horror! Its main characters are young adults who live in or are visiting a boarding house by the sea. Two sisters share some duties with their mother after their father’s mysterious death. Three young men, one terminally ill, are visiting with them. The boys’ respective fathers are also deeply involved in something sinister. As the plot unrolls, the characters become embroiled in a chilling series of events that seem to involve far more than their sleepy little town. Reluctantly, they find themselves forced into more and more dangerous situations that involve not only their fathers but many of the townspeople they thought they knew well.
I want to hand this book to all my reading friends and order them to read it, and look at the twin story in paintings by Di Bartolo. It is a brand new technique to me. It’s not really manga, because there are no thought balloons or speech balloons or captions or any text whatsoever accompanying the paintings. It’s not really an illustrated narrative either, because the pictures have a purpose beyond accompanying and interpreting the text. I believe there are two narratives going on in parallel, both delivering the plot in different ways and from different points in the narrative.
At first I had no idea what the paintings showed, because they start the book, and with no captions I was lost. Still, they are so compelling that I spent several moments on each picture, struggling to “read” it. It wasn’t until I had read a fair bit of the text that the pictures started to have a narrative for me too. Then the two media started to work together brilliantly.
The text itself is a verbal wonder that conjures a visual wonder as effectively as the paintings. White creates characters you can see, without wasting a word. The creepy atmosphere of horror is just as much a product of the evocative writing as the shivery paintings. The story is a series of shocks to the nervous system that will keep you turning the pages well in to the night. Now that I am tuned in to the art work, I am going to re-read it to see what I missed at the beginning. This is a book that will merit second or third or even more readings.