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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Four YA Novels and Some Thoughts

Paradigm by Helen Stringer.  A YA novel featuring sixteen-year-old Sam, who is traveling across The Wilds in an America that is struggling after the third collapse.  Unaware that there is anything special about him, Sam is simply trying to survive with enough to purchase food and gas for his ancient GTO.  When his friend Nathan and circumstances force him to visit Century City, Sam discovers that he was part of a scientific experiment gone wrong, that there has been an ongoing search for others like him, and that if he is caught life as he knows it will be destroyed.

Although this YA novel has fewer simplistic descriptions (green eyes--mossy, emerald, etc.) that are common in many recent YA novels I've read, Sam does have one green and one blue eye, a trope I've seen in 3 recent YA novels.  It was fine the first time, but the description gets old quickly.  In its favor, the rest of the physical descriptions in the novel are sketchy enough to allow the reader to visualize without the glowing, sparkling, breathlessness that typify many YA books.

I disliked the extreme violence and the evil Carolyn Bast's over-the-top wickedness.  I did like Alma, (and without her convenient arrival when needed, Sam would have died early on), but Alma is not really developed as a character.

NetGalley/Mediadrome Press

YA/Science Fiction.  2013.  Print Version:  396 pages.

Skulk by Rosie Best.  Meg Banks becomes a shape-shifter by default.  While painting graffitti on the wall surrounding her private school, Meg is startled when an injured fox darts by and falls.  As Meg goes to check on the fox, she watches it transform into a naked man who hands her a stone before he dies.  

Without realizing that the shape-shifter has passed on his ability to transform, Meg hides the stone.  Later, Meg is attacked after leaving a club and in her fear, she transforms into a fox.  

Meg finds herself as the newest member of a the skulk, a group of foxes.  Only six members of any shape-shifter group are allowed, and the one nearest to a dying shape-shifter becomes the next in line.   Meg has more to learn about shifting, the skulk, and the importance of the gem stones.

The Good:  Not much, really, but I liked the use of group names for the animals:  a skulk of foxes, a conspiracy of crows, a rabble of butterflies, and a horde of rats.  It was a nice change from werewolf shifting.

The Bad:  The first part of the novel dragged over the "poor little rich girl" stuff.  The body count is high and doesn't even really seem to effect Meg.  Every once in a while, she thinks about it and vows revenge, but nothing in her behavior indicates that the deaths have bothered her too much.  Not much character development.

NetGalley/Angry Robot

YA/Fantasy.  Oct. 1, 2013.

Deceived  by Julie Ann Lindsey is the story of Elle, a young woman haunted by a recurring dream.  She and her father move so often that she never feels that she belongs anywhere, but she has convinced her father to let her attend a boarding school for her senior year.  But a rumor of a stalker and a serial killer puts the campus on edge.  Does the stalker have one victim in mind?

Not very realistic, but a fast read in spite of some sections that seem mostly for the purpose of lengthening the book.  The love interest is breathtakingly handsome.  Of course.  He is also a U.S. Marshall and a veteran of Afghanistan at twenty-two.  Maybe a bit too mature for a high school girl?

NetGalley/F+W/Adams Media

YA/Suspense.  September 18, 2013.  Print version:  320 pages.

The Delphi Deception by Chris Everheart is the follow-up to The League of Delphi.  Zach continues his attempts to rescue Ashley, and his new ally is the treacherous Katie, who informed on Ashley in the first place.  

What else?  There is more information about Larry and a surprise twist about Zach.  And there you have it.

If you liked the first one, you will probably like this one as well.  I wasn't impressed with the first one and should have left this one alone.

NetGalley/PR by the Book

YA/Mystery.  Oct. 1, 2013. 


Am I being too critical in expecting decent writing and good characterization in YA books?  Or content suitable for the specific age group?  Or thoughtful themes and clear, consistent voice from characters?  Or decent dialogue?

There are a good many good YA writers out there, but there are more mediocre books than excellent ones. 


  1. I think there are some really good YA books out there and we should expect good writing no matter who the target audience is. That's too bad these didn't live up to their potential.

    The only YA book I've read this year is Eleanor and Park and that was fabulous. So good ones are out there!

  2. Iliana - I know there are some great YA books, and there are many that I just love! What bothers me is that there are also so many that don't seem to much effort into their books.