YA is an under appreciated genre. Yeah, there are a lot of book bloggers out there that tout the glories of teen fiction, but what about the rest of the world? I know several thirty-something women whose dirty little secret is a Kindle full of Twilight, Leviathan, Perfect Chemistry and Hunger Games. (All of which I read and loved)
Well, I say hide no more! YA lit is freaking awesome. It doesn't just mean big trends (read Vampires), there are books in just about every genre written for the under twenty crowd. Some really, really amazing authors out there write books not just filled with angst, but with heroism, fear, love, horror, drugs, sex, humor, adventure, political activism, cupcakes and more!
If you're new to YA, or have been avoiding it shamefacedly here are a few of my favorite (free from your local library, where I got them, but sadly not free from amazon) recent reads to start you out.
Shine, Lauren Myracle -Hate crime in the middle of nowhere and the girl who is determined to solve it. Nominated for the National Book-, oh, no, that's right NBA asked her to withdraw. Read more about that here.
Enclave, Ann Aguirre - Like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but not written as strangely and for teens.
The Girl in the Steel Corset, Kady Cross - Steampunk meets Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde's daughter. The author also has a FREE short called The Strange Case of Finley Jane.
Squashed, Joan Bauer - This book made me want to grow giant pumpkins.
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, Carolyn Mackler - I picked this one for my Banned Books Week read.
Read them, love them, (go see the inevitable movie) spread the word.
Title: Alias Dragonfly
Author: Jane Singer
Genre: Historical YA
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
15 year-old Maddie Bradford becomes a Pinkerton spy during the Civil War.
Now, before you pu-shaw (say it out loud) this concept know that the author is a Civil War historian and through her research not only discovered that Allan Pinkerton hired women as spies, but that he placed one in the home of a Confederate socialite Washingtonian as a governess.
I really loved Maddie's character. She's a little bit broken (fell from a tree as a child), she's also got a photographic memory. She's always thought she was extra strange (what teenager doesn't), but learns to embrace her uniqueness to support a cause she believes in (as an awesome spy!). Thanks go to Jane Singer for creating a believable heroine who isn't whiny or in some co-dependant relationship (with a vampire) and is a fantastic role model for today's young women.
While I really liked Maddie, the story she told needed a little work. It's relayed to us through her first person eyes, after the fact. Maddie lets us know she is telling us this story, and often pops out of the narrative to ask us, the reader how we feel about something. I found that weird and unnecessary. I'm guessing the editor may have recommended this technique to get the reader more involved in the story, but it threw me out of it.
I wished the story had moved the romance between our heroine and the hottie newspaper reporter along a bit more. (But that might just be me, I love a good romance!)
I have to tell you I was a bit miffed at the end. Okay, so the war isn't over, and there are gonna be more books, but I just didn't get that nice fulfilling 'here's the end of the story' feeling. I kept turning the pages, expecting one more chapter.
I liked it, and the only thing keeping me from saying I would have paid for it is the ending. Make that more satisfying and I'd totally fork over the bucks.
Still, well worth my one-click (and yours too)
I give this one three stars (Hey Jane, I'll give the fourth if you give me another chapter!)
Hey, remember, these books on the blog are all free the day I post, but if you click be sure to check the price as the zero dollar price tag is usually a promotion and will go up (soon, so click now!)