I blame Clockwork Princess for my inability to find a book that I can really freak out about.
I've been browsing through a lot of books that have been on my back burner since there haven't been any huge titles out lately (it seems like most of the big ones come out in the fall. I have a list of about 10 that are going to cause me to have financial issues from August-November.) So, I took this opportunity to catch up on a series I've always been meaning to read but haven't had the time. Also, I think I may have found my own personal bias when it comes to YA literature. Ie: What Causes Me to Enjoy a YA or Throw It to the Floor.
The Fae are Back on my Shelves!
My interest in the world of the fae exploded with Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales series. I loved that she wrote the classic idea of faeries with a very gothic twist and as time has passed, I definitely prefer the fey that you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley to the ones that float around and dump dust on people (if you pay attention long enough, you'll notice that I usually enjoy the darker area of literature. All the best of us do.)
Iron Fey series in the stores for a while and for a really silly personal reason, had avoided them. Luckily, by avoiding them I was able to read straight through the series. The premise is really interesting; a girl discovers that she is the half-fae daughter of Oberon and finds herself caught up in a world she didn't think existed. Honestly, I was pulled into the series by the premise of the dark haired prince who kind of hates her for no reason (let's be honest ladies, would you say no?).
While I enjoyed the series and found the plot interesting and fun, there was something missing from the whole experience. On GoodReads I gave most of the books 3/5 stars because while I enjoyed them, I found myself pushing my way through. For me, a book can have an amazing plot and a great premise, but if the writing isn't a style that I enjoy, I'm automatically put off.
This is where my bias exists. Every reader has a bias. Reader bias is what makes our literature culture so amazing and also where I often get frustrated. What appeals to me doesn't necessarily appeal to you. I've read a book and absolutely adored it, handed it off to my friend really thinking they would love it, only to find out they either didn't like it or felt "meh" about it (I've also freaked about a book, handed it off to someone and they flipped-out along with me. Love that.)
I enjoy novels that have a style where they play with their words. I've tried to get very specific about what I mean, but the best way is to describe it is that I like to see new things done with words. I love when authors create metaphors and similes that make you go "oh! that's an interesting comparison." I also really like when description is strong, but not overwhelming. One of the reasons I could never get into J.R.R. Tolkien or George R. Martin is because they describe FOREVER. It takes Tolkien four pages to say "and then they when over the hill."
What I'm finding in YA is that there is a clear divide. On one side are the novels that have whatever topic is popular at the time, have a good plot and "fun" characters, but lack a real sense of writing style. Then there are the ones that are harder to find, but exist. Books where there is a clear style and the writing is mature and has an academic feel to it (high level words and play on sentence structure). I would really love to do some research into the backgrounds of each of the writers whose books I love and the ones I just couldn't get into. I wonder if there is a correlation between academic history and quality of writing. (I am not saying that people without a literature/college education can't be good writers, I would just be interested to see.)
So, even though I couldn't get into the Iron Fey, I am really enjoying her Blood of Eden series which is a dystopian story about a world where vampires have taken over AND the zombie disease has basically infected any humans left (right?! I would be dead.) I don't know what it is about this series that causes me to consistently give the series 4/5. I would love to prove my theory about good writing and say that Julie has grown as a writer, but let's be honest, this type of book is more up my alley than the Fey series. The main character is much darker and her situation much more dire. There is lots of blood and some rather icky description of limbs flying around, so perhaps this is what has peaked my interest. But with that said, her characters feel more real to me. There is something tighter about her writing. I also really enjoy the voice of the main character. She is super snarky and has a hard time dealing with the life she leads and the one she's left behind.
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Reading List Update
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
This is a really fantastic book for anyone looking for a YA with high fantasy, kings, queens and people who are actually dragons. The political aspect really gripped me and I was pulled in by the society that Hartman grows in this, especially between humans and dragons.
Dualed by Elsie Chapman
This is one of those books that I really wanted to be good. The premise of living in a world where a clone of you will kill you unless you kill them by the time you're 18, was fascinating. Yet, I found myself skimming through it half-way through. This might really catch other people, but I found it lacking.
The Selection by Kiera Cass
This. Book. I'm sorry, but if you liked this book, PLEASE explain to me how. I tried. I did. The idea was REALLY interesting, but the writing and characters were SO FLAT. I didn't see anything new in this that I was already expecting. I can see this book in the middle-grade category, maybe? But not YA. Bleh.
Waiting in the Wings
Stolen Nights by Rebecca Maziel
Rift by Andrea Cremer
Crash by Lisa McMann
Pivot Point by Kasie West
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton <-written a="" attending="" be="" by="" fall="" graduate="" i="" ll="" mfa="" next="" of="" p="" program="" the="">The Unquiet by Jeanine Garsee
The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Elfin by Quinn Loftis
Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw