Posts tagged ‘Young adult fiction’

Ms. Roth is ready for her close-up – “Divergent” by Veronica Roth

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth, Published in 2011

Writing science fiction is tough. Scratch that, writing good science fiction is tough.  If the writer is creating a whole different world for the reader then there has to be a lot of extra care and quality writing to make sure the reader understands the setting, the society, the technology.  Without good descriptive writing, the reader is just guessing and that can get, well, annoying.  Let’s just get down to it, Ms. Roth wrote “Divergent” so it could be a movie.  Not only was she riding the “Hunger Games” hype (kudos to her) but she was obviously hoping that the ride would take her book into movie production. And yippee it is  – March 2014 coming to a theater near you. But you see Ms. Roth forgot to actually write anything but a character story. While I am aware this is young adult fiction, even for this genre her writing is shallow.  I have no idea how anything looks in this new world.  It is like “Twilight” meets the “Hunger Games” meets some CW show.  Was it enjoyable? Sure. Was it something I would recommend? Not really, unless you have read every book on your “to read” list and have nothing else in the house and are terribly, terribly bored.

Beatrice is a teen living in a futuristic society (Chicago years from now). This society is divided into five factions and each faction has a strength or focus – one is bravery, one is truth, one is knowledge, and I think you get the picture.  While each child grows up in a particular faction, when they reach 16 years old they are tested to determine what faction would best fit them. However on the day of appointment, the teen can decide which faction they would like to join, not necessarily based on the test results.  Once you make a choice to change factions your new family is your new faction and you leave your old life and family behind.  Beatrice’s test is inconclusive and so she is something very dangerous – divergent.  But she still must make the choice of whether to stay with her family and remain selfless or change factions and head into the unknown *insert dramatic music*.

Perhaps most notably, Ms. Roth gives us some tips on writing in the back of the book. This was her first book and she already had writing tips for us small folk.  I read them. Apparently I too can dream of someday writing a book about a strong teen girl who doesn’t fit in but is special and falls in love and saves the world. Or something along those lines.  I will call it “The Twilight Games,” make it a trilogy, and get a movie deal.  I am pretty sure that is what Ms. Roth was trying to tell me…I could be wrong.

December 27, 2013 at 8:17 pm 2 comments

In like a lion

Truly March was a tough month.  For my family there was bad health news, poor weather, and just terrible news all around.  Everything just seemed to fall apart.  Now April is here and the sun is shining so I can only hope that means that everything is on the mend.  I neglected my book reviews in March. So in one overview I am recapping what I read in March:

  1. Anne of Green Gables – Reading this book is so comforting.  It reminds me of being a kid, snuggled down in warm blankets, with my siblings fighting somewhere downstairs, the smell of my mom baking, and just escaping.  Anne is just as precocious and lovable as I remember and I still want to live on Prince Edward Island. It is nice to be reminded that in a lot of ways we are still our twelve-year-old selves.
  2. Blue Asylum by Kathy HepinstallIn the middle of the Civil War, Iris runs away from her cruel husband with some of his slaves.  When she is caught she is tried and convicted of madness.  She finds herself in a mental institute trying to prove to everyone and maybe even herself that she is sane but was living in a crazy world.  This book was pretty good.  But I feel like Hepinstall could have done more with the subject.
  3.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This is the Grim Reaper’s tale of a young German girl named Liesel, who is a book thief.  He comes in and out of her life during WWII, ultimately carrying her story with him.  I cannot express how profound this book was for me.  Zusak is able to use the Grim Reaper’s more objective view of humans, war and love to show fairly stark truths about our world:

“They’re strange, those wars.  Full of blood and violence-

but also full of stories that are equally difficult to fathom.”

4.   Belong to Me by Maria de los Santos – I don’t remember how I came to this book and honestly, I am not sure what I think of it.   It was a bit too “Desperate Housewives” for me but was a light, mindless read and the writing was pretty good.

For the Spring, I am looking forward to being outside with my husband and children, lots of sunshine and some great reading time outside.  No matter what else is going on in my life these are the things that make me truly happy.dsc_8791.jpg

April 8, 2013 at 9:25 am Leave a comment

V.C. Andrews has got nothing on young fiction writers these days

“The Prince of the Mist” by  Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Published in 2010 (in English)

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs, Published in 2011

 

In 6th grade, I remember sneaking “Flowers in the Attic” up to my room, carefully walking up the stairs, hoping not to get caught. I knew if my parents found out what I was reading I would be in trouble (incest and severe child abuse are not necessarily what you hope your 13-year-old daughter is reading about). But I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I had finished it.  I kind of felt the same way about “The Prince of Mist” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”

Both books are written for young adults, so I have been slinking around kind of reading them on the sly – ready to say something ridiculous like “I just got done reading the collective works of Tolstoy” if anyone asks what I am reading.  Reading young adult fiction can be really fun but like any guilty pleasure I am, for some weird reason, always ready to defend myself. I also knew, once I started both of these books, that I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I finished them.  So while I didn’t have to read these books under my covers with a flashlight, in a way that was what I was doing.

“The Prince of Mist” is set during WWII (which seems to be the case with a lot of books I have been reading lately). A family moves from the city to a small seaside town.  The oldest son, Max, knows something is wrong with this town when they get off the train and he notices that the train station clock is running backwards.  The family quickly finds out the previous owners of their house abandoned it when their son drowned.  They also find out that something is terribly wrong with the house and their surroundings.  There is just enough to make this story work – an evil cat, a spooky clown statue and a brave kid who saves the day. I think my 6th grade self would have loved this book.  My adult self  thinks this would have been better as a short story because towards the end my attention began to wander.

I think everyone has read “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” but for those who haven’t it is really a good book.  It is not what I expected but it has that storyline that we all connect with. The ordinary kid who has no friends and who thinks he is a loser only to find out that indeed he is special and then amazing things happen to him.  There have been a thousand reviews written about this book so I will leave it at that (see below for links to other reviews of this book).  It is by no means the best book you will ever read but it is a great escape and a quick read.  Don’t let the fact that the author’s name is Ransom get in your way either.

I have no idea how V.C. Andrews holds up compared to these books. But from what I remember, I think I would rather read these books several times over before ever again having to wonder if Christopher will marry his sister and get out of the attic –  and wow was that a bad movie.

Now what did I do with that Tolstoy collection I was just reading…

October 11, 2011 at 8:42 pm 6 comments

My dark descent into young adult literature – “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

Image via Wikipedia

The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins, Published in 2008

I am pretty sure everyone has already read this book and that I am one of the last hold-outs. But if by chance you have not read this book you really should, it is amazingly fun.

This is science fiction and is set sometime in the future. The U.S.  has become a 12 district nation, Panem, controlled by the Capitol.  Because of an uprising years before, the Capitol holds the hunger games every year.  Each year, each of the district must draw the name of a boy and a girl to compete in the games.  Your name is entered starting at age 12.  You can have your name entered multiple times in exchange for grain to feed your family throughout the year, so the impoverished have a higher likelihood of being sent to the games. The hunger game is like a game of capture the flag gone terribly wrong.  The game is to survive in the arena, which can be miles and miles of land, and kill all of the other competitors.  Everything is televised so the nation can watch their children slaughter each other. Whoever is left alive wins. All of this is the Capitol’s reminder to the people that they control everything and everyone, even their childrens’ lives.

When 16 year old Katniss’ little sister’s name is drawn for the games Katniss takes her place.  She is paired with Peeta, the baker’s son, who had given her bread years before when she was starving.  Both are sent to represent their district but both are also sent to kill each other.  That is all I will say about the story itself because really it is not a complicated story and to say more would give too much away.

I was reluctant to read this book. I like sci-fi movies but I have not read a lot of science fiction. In fact, I tried to struggle through “Foundations” by Asimov recently and finally just gave up.  While this is a simple read, it really was fun. Maybe I should try another Asimov book but only after I finish the other two books in “The Hunger Games” series.

October 5, 2011 at 12:20 am 4 comments


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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