aka YA Literature

Friday, July 20, 2012

What I've Been Reading

I've been reading like crazy this summer, so I thought I'd mention a few of my favorite titles so far:

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Part fantasy, part historical fiction, this book tells the story of Ismae Rienne who escapes from an abusive marriage by joining the convent of St. Mortain in 15th century Brittany.  There she becomes a handmaiden of Death and trains in the arts of fighting, poisons, and seduction.  She is assigned an important task in the royal court, and there she becomes involved in danger, political intrigue and double-crossing, and of course, romance.  I LOVED this book.  Probably my favorite of the summer so far.

Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas
This is actually somewhat similar to Grave Mercy in that the main character ends up involved in the political machinations of the castle where she's staying. 
Celaena Sardothien is the kingdom's deadliest assassin, and in order to win her freedom from hard labor, she trains in the palace for a royal competition (if she wins, she wins her freedom).  There's a paranormal element, secrets, murders, and a yummy love triangle (will she end up with the prince or the captain of the guards?).  So good, but now I'm regretting that I read the ARC because I'm dying for the second book and the first hasn't even come out yet.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Orphan Alina Starkov is a cartographer in the King's Army.  She is going across the dangerous Shadow Fold with the rest of the army when she is attacked by the viscous winged creatures who live there.  A burst of bright light comes from Alina, and she soon discovers that she is a Grisha, one of the elite members of the Second Army who practice magic at the behest of the Darkling.  Since she is a rare Sun Summoner, she is taken under the protection and guidance of the Darkling to help to finally destroy the Shadow Fold.  But there are many plot twists ahead!  I read it in one day.

Partials by Dan Wells
The Partials were engineered to be like humans but more indestructible so that they could fight wars in humans' stead.  Naturally, that didn't go too well, and now there are only a few thousand human survivors living on Long Island.  Cut off from the rest of the world, they know only that these never-aging Partials are out there surrounding them and are now their enemies.  The Partials also involuntarily released a virus, RM, which kills all human babies.  So the remaining humans are aging and can't reproduce.  The protagonist, 16 year-old Kira, is determined to find a cure for RM, even if it means illegally leaving the security of Long Island to bring back a Partial for study.  I read this one because three of my students told me how much they liked it when they turned it in.  I don't know if I liked it as much as they did, but I did quite like it.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
Set in a future where the U.S. is now ruled by royalty and divided strictly by class lines, America Singer is selected from her district to compete in a high stakes reality show - the winner will win marriage to the hunky Prince Maxon.  Kind of a futuristic, YA "The Bachelor."  I enjoyed it quite a bit, although she better end up with Maxon!  I really liked America and Maxon together, but maybe I would have also liked the book if we didn't know who to root for, if we liked and knew about several of the candidates (ie. we didn't just get America's viewpoint).

A few older titles I just got around to reading and really enjoyed: Blood Red Road by Moira Young (can hardly wait for the second book!), Legend by Marie Lu (thank goodness I didn't read it when it came out because I'm already overly anxious to read the next book, which isn't out until the end of January), and The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (The girls all LOVE this book, and I can totally see why - at least as good as anything by Sarah Dessen, if not better.  That's saying a lot.).

Zombie Kid Diaries: Playing Dead

Zombie Kid Diaries: Playing Dead by Fred Perry and David Hutchison isn't my usual reading fare.  It's more middle grade oriented, and it's heavily illustrated.  It's about wimpy middle schooler Bill Stokes who suffers from normal middle school insecurities and bullying.  To add to those issues, Bill's mom one day feeds him something for breakfast that, he eventually figures out, is slowly turning him into a zombie.  He has terrible BO (from his rotting zombie flesh), pussy pimples, and a taste for rotten meat.  You might think becoming a zombie would help him in his battle against the school bullies, but you have to remember that zombies don't exactly run very fast.  His best weapon might be his terrible odor.  Oh, and he's trying to win a local video game tournament.

It's rather hard for me to give an opinion on this book because I know I'm not the target audience.  I found it kind of dull and gross, but I'm not a middle schooler.  The gross descriptions and pictures of "zombie zits" would probably appeal more to them than they did to me.  I imagine with the popularity of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and zombies, it would be popular with the middle school crowd.  The sequel, Zombie Kid Diaries: Grossery Games, comes out at the end of the month.