Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Hollow City picks up almost immediately after the events of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the first book in the MISS PEREGRINE’S PECULIAR CHILDREN series. From the very beginning Hollow City is an action-packed adventure in all the places that the first book was a thoughtful, eerie mystery. I enjoyed the change of pace Ransom Riggs set in this sequel, though this new territory brought with it its own problems. (Please note: this review will contain spoilers throughout due to the mysterious nature of the first book. Some points I will be discussing were not known until most of the way through Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but I have found them integral to talking about Hollow City... Read More
YAFantasy Literature for Young Adults (over the age of 12).
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Dove Arising by Karen Bao
Dove Arising is a new YA science fiction novel from Karen Bao, and one which I persevered through despite a host of issues, until I reached the last fifth or so when things really began to go off the rails. I pushed on, admittedly skimming a bit, thinking “I’m this far in, I can finish,” but the cumulative effect was just too much and I ended up giving up about forty pages from the end.
The setting is one of a series of bases on the moon, in a future where Earth is under the domination of two floating city-states and their respective alliances, and in a cold-war (that occasionally heats up) relationship with the moon bases. Phaet is a 15-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is taken away for quarantine and then later arrested for “disruptive print,” as the bases system is a bit dictatorial (ruled by a committee, constant surveillance, proh... Read More
The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
I was about as close to a Did Not Finish with Kristen Simmons’ The Glass Arrow as I can get without putting a book down, so you can tell already where this review is going to end up. As usual in these situations, preferring not to belabor the point with regard to what I consider a bad book, I’ll keep this review relatively brief.
Simmons sets her story in a world where women are treated as breeding cattle, basically. They’re bought and sold at auction, painted and sculpted and costumed. Their numbers are carefully managed by census and “reduction when needed,” and those who live in the wild are hunted by Trackers and brought back to the city because these “wild” women have more boy-producing wombs. The... Read More
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
When Tiffany thinks about her age, she thinks that she’s “nearly sixteen.” On the Chalk, “nearly sixteen” means, for many girls, thinking about marriage. Tiffany might lack her peers’ enthusiasm for boys, but she has delivered babies and tended to the terminally ill. Tiffany has dealt with domestic abuse. As a witch, Tiffany’s job is to take care of everyone, the young and the old alike, and to face the things, every day, that people just do not like to face. Tiffany is wise beyond her years, and she’s certainly not thinking about boys and marriage.
But Tiffany does know that Roland is getting married to a bimbo. But children do ask her whether witches even have “passionate parts.” But she did kiss the Wintersmith.
(More of a peck, really. “No tongue!” Tiffany reminds one witch.)
Kissing the Wintersmith is a problem, or it’s a... Read More
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Once upon a time, in a town called Fairfold, Holly Black set her story for her stand-alone novel The Darkest Part of the Forest. The dark faerie-tale fuses the fantastical with the mundane, as humans and Fae folk exist alongside one another, the faeries even being a huge source of tourism for the little town. That is an original and intriguing premise if there ever was one, with promises of dark twists and turns. But somewhere along the lines the plot failed in its execution, and a book that began as compelling, seemed to lose its magic.
The story opens in the forest, where a high school party is in full swing. Drunken teenagers lounge against the glass casket of a sleeping Prince with horns and pointed ears. One such teenager is Hazel. Angsty and brooding, Hazel doesn’t like the part of her that keeps kissing all the boys and leading them n... Read More
Covenant’s End by Ari Marmell
Thieves seem to be “in” this decade, and Ari Marmell’s Widdershins, from the COVENANT series, is one of the most popular in YA. In Covenant’s End, Widdershins returns to her home city, only to discover that there have been drastic changes while she has been away. Some are huge and affect the entire city. Some are personal, shifting the fault lines in Shins’ heart.
Shins carries a tiny god, Olgun, in her head. Olgun provides insight, but he can also boost Shins’s strength and power a bit, and provide small miracles. When the duo return to their home city of Davillon, they discover that she might not be the only one who has this kind of arrangement. Shins is up against her old rival Lisette, and Lisette has grown frighteningly powerful. To survive, and defeat Lisette, Widder... Read More
Random by Alma Alexander
There's a group of Young Adult authors — I'm thinking of Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier, Justine Larbalestier, and a few others — who write the kind of books that snooty adults who look down on YA in Internet articles have clearly never read. These are books that don't get made into popular movies, because most of what happens is internal to the characters.
This kind of YA has depth and resonance and significance. It shines a light on the path for young people (young women, in particular) who are looking for courage and a place in the world. It's been some time since I was young, and I've never been a woman, but I'm glad that young women have writers like these in ... Read More
Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Firefight, second book in the superhero-dystopian RECKONERS series, is a good young adult novel. It's fun, it's lively, and the pacing never drags. I do have a handful of quibbles, but none of them are vastly troubling. If all you really want to know is whether Firefight is worth reading or a worthy successor to Steelheart, then you have your answer: a solid affirmative on both counts.
Anyway, our story starts off a few months after the previous novel left off (and shortly after the intervening novella) with the Reckoners struggling to hold Newcago in the aftermath of Steelheart's demise. Numerous Epics (Sanderson's word for superhumans) have turned up to make our heroes’ lives miserable, but a majority of them seem to be coming from Babilar (Graffiti Art New York). Prof, the Reckoners' leader, believes t... Read More
Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
This review contains spoilers for Steelheart, the previous novel in the series.
With great power comes great responsibility, or so the saying goes. When an inexplicable event grants superpowers to common men and women, instead of the heroic deeds of superheroes, the world witnesses its destruction when those same superpowers corrupt those who wield them. Such is the setting Brandon Sanderson introduced us to in Steelheart, the first book in his new young adult series, THE RECKONERS.
Firefight follows just a few months after the ending of Steelheart, with David, now called by his fellow Reckoners as Steelslayer, having killed Steelheart and liberated the city of Newcago from the tyranny of the High Epic, avenging his father’s death in the process. Having ac... Read More
Inked by Eric Smith
Inked, by Eric Smith, was a solid if uninspiring YA book for much of the first half, albeit with some grating issues, but a downturn in the latter part of the book greatly lowered its entertainment value, leading to a "not recommended" judgment. As usual in these cases, this will be a relatively short review, as I prefer not to pile on an author whom I’m sure put a lot of hard work and love into their work.
The story centers on 18-year-old Caenum and his best friend Dreya, who is slightly older. Their ages are important because in this world, people are “inked” at age eighteen — given magical tattoos that determine their role in society for the rest of their lives, whether it be farmer (one such has an apple tree tattoo on their back), a florist (ivies vining up one’s arm), goldsmith, or assassin. When Caenum’s turn arises though, the arrival of an apprentice scribe named Kenzi thro... Read More
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Patrick Ness casts his line with five words, and we are hooked: “Here is the boy, drowning.” Seth is sixteen years old when we meet him, and about to die. He is out at sea with the icy tide dragging him out further and further in a terrifying opening for Ness’s Young Adult novel, More Than This. And then his shoulder blade “snaps in two so loudly he can hear the crack.” Seth drowns.
But impossibly, he wakes up. He finds himself in his childhood home in England, in a kind of twisted post-apocalyptic version of his past. It is completely abandoned, devoid of other humans, choked by overgrown weeds and everything covered in a thick layer of dust and dirt. The reader is as intrigued and lost as Seth is, and it is through his eyes that we must discover how and why Seth came to be here.
Ness paints Seth with utmost compassion and ... Read More
Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix
It's been over ten years since Garth Nix released a book set in the world of the Old Kingdom, where an ancestral line produces individuals who take on the mantle of the Abhorsen, the necromancer responsible for keeping the dead beyond the Gates where they belong.
Set six hundred years before the events of Sabriel, Clariel is a young woman with dreams of becoming a forester, preferring solitude to anything the city can offer. Unfortunately her mother is one of the most sought after goldsmiths in the world, and the family's move to the royal city of Belisaere provides her with more materials for her craft. Clariel hates it, and in the dinner parties and formal lessons that follow, she quietly plots her escape.
An opportunity arises from unexpected quarters. After an "attack" that's so clumsily staged even Clariel realizes it's just for ... Read More
Ender’s Game Alive by Orson Scott Card
This review assumes you have read Ender's Game, or are familiar with it, so it may contain some spoilers for Ender’s Game.
Before becoming one of the of most accomplished science fiction authors of his generation, Orson Scott Card worked as a writer of full-length plays for BYU, where he studied. He also wrote audioplays on LDS Church history. It follows from his experience then, that when Orson Scott Card set his sights on adapting his hit novel Ender's Game into Ender's Game Alive, a full-cast audioplay, the result could be nothing less than that classic novel deserves.
If you've read the novel you know how it goes. Ender is the third child in a time where a couple is only allowed to have two children. Supposed to have the same geniality his brother and sister h... Read More
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger
“It’s most annoying of you to order me to do something I’m going to do anyway. Now it’ll look like I’m obeying you.” ~Miss Sophronia Temminnick
I absolutely adore Gail Carriger’s FINISHING SCHOOL series in which spunky Miss Sophronia Temminnick and her friends are being finished while they learn to finish others. For Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not your usual Victorian boarding school. Unbeknownst to its headmistress, those Young Ladies of Quality are being trained to be assassins who will one day serve and protect their queen (or at least Sophronia assumes this — she’s not actually sure yet).
In Waistcoats & Weaponry, the third installment, the young “ladies” are still in their second year of school. While the academy drifts through the ether in a ... Read More
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
After finally seeing the Broadway musical I felt it was well past time to track down Gregory Maguire's Wicked (the inspiration for the musical, which by this stage has probably eclipsed the book in popularity) and read for myself the origin story of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Anyone who comes to the book out of a love for the musical is probably in for a nasty shock. Though the musical had its share of darkness and a bittersweet ending, it was generally a very light and comedic production that focused on the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. Maguire's novel on the other hand is filled with violence, sex, murder and grotesquery, delving into the question of what makes a human being evil and whether or not they can escape their preordained fate.
Elphaba is born to missionary parents in lower-east Munchkinland, with unexplained green skin and ... Read More
The Tricksters by Margaret Mahy
Margaret Mahy was one of New Zealand's most seminal writers, and one of only a few authors to twice-win the Carnegie Medal — first for The Haunting and then for The Changeover. As good as these books are, my personal favourite is The Tricksters, written for a slightly older audience and filled with her trademark New Zealand scenery, supernatural occurrences, family dramas and the awakening of a young person to adulthood. Older readers shouldn't be put off by the claims that this is a "young adult" novel, as any intelligent reader over the age of thirteen will enjoy what is perhaps Mahy's best work.
The Hamilton family gather at their beach house at Carnival's Hide to celebrate Christ... Read More
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
The story Bones of Faerie takes place years after a great and tragic war between the Fae and the Humans. Those who survived the war on the human side greatly distrust any sort of magic. However, the war changed the human world; trees never shed their leaves, instead they attack unsuspecting victims. Plants have minds of their own, and only the most benign can be eaten. Some children are born with transparent hair; marking them part-faerie. These children are killed for what they may become, and the destructive powers they could possess.
Liza lives in such a town. Any child born with magic is cast out to die or else be taken by the faerie. Strangers are not welcome, and trade is nonexistent. The inhabitants of the town live off of what tame plants they can harvest and are not poisonous. Liza lives with her father, a strict man and firm believer in ‘the rules’:
... Read More
Replica by Jenna Black
Jenna Black’s Replica is a young adult science fiction novel which I read in only one day. Readers who follow my blog might know that when I read a book in a day it means I either loved it or hated it. Well, Replica tries hard, but in the end, it just wasn’t for me.
One of my issues right off the bat is that for a science fiction world, there really isn’t much SciFi in Replica and Black never gives the reader a timeline to reference. Different aspects of the world suggest different time periods. The story takes place in the Corporate States, a future dystopian version of our own world, and Nathan has a Replica, so we know it’s the future, but many the social structures make me think of the 1800s. Women wear long dresses in public and worry about Victorian era soc... Read More
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
If there is one genre in young adult fiction that has been egregiously overdone at this point, it’s… well, actually, can’t tell a lie, it’s paranormal romance. But a close runner-up is the “Teens with Powers” genre that’s rocketed to prominence in recent years, particularly after a certain book series involving young wizards and their magical school. The formula is generally much the same: there’s a secret society of magic-users who organize themselves in some sort of refuge from a dangerous world where they have an equally magical enemy. The inevitably teenage or tweenage protagonists are at first under pressure to simply conform and leave the problems to the adults, but must soon take matters into their own hands to indulge teenage hormones and face their nemeses in glorious magical combat. This isn’t to say it’s a bad formula (indeed, many auth... Read More
Jala’s Mask by Mike & Rachel Grinti
I enjoy reading fantasy that stems from a different folkloric basis than the one I grew up in. Middle European, British, Native American and Asian fantasy tropes have been done a lot, so Jala’s Mask, by Mike & Rachel Grinti was a refreshing change.
Jala has grown up in a society similar in some ways to our Polynesian one. Her people can magically shape ships from the material that forms the reefs around their islands. They gather wealth by raiding the mainland. The Five Islands and One are ruled by a king and queen, but except for the One island, where sorcerers are exiled, each island is controlled by a particular family. Jala is part of the Bardo clan. The new king, Azi of the Kayet, is looking for a wife, and Jala’s father is sure she will be chosen. This seems unlikely, because Azi’s Kayet uncle doesn’t trust the Bardo, but Jala’... Read More