In keeping with our Book of the Month promotion here for January, featured authors of the new supernatural hit, Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, chose a Young Adult book and penned a joint guest review for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .
Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they’ve been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.
Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.
However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
There is a special shelf in our office – and by that I mean our hearts – for books that Kami and I feel the same way about. We don’t always agree. I tilt towards high fantasy and Kami to the urban supernatural. Because I read as fast as I drink Diet Cokes, I approach bookstores as an all you can eat buffet. Because Kami not only writes books but raises two small children and teaches reading, she’s pickier, more of an a la carte reader.
But, when the stars align, we’ll agree on a book that we trade back and forth, recommend and fight over, and alternately claim to have discovered for ourselves. This year, we felt that way about Rampant, so when YA Reads asked us to do a joint review, it leapt off our Special Collections shelf.
There will be the reader, like myself, who hears the words “Killer Unicorns” and says, “I’m in.” It sounds like a parody, but Peterfreund’s take on the mythical beast is straight and deadly serious. The result is an entirely girl-powered mythology of her own, that builds more into what I would consider an Epic than a Series.
Peterfreund’s Astrid, the virginal killer unicorn slayer, is heir to the empty throne in her unicorn-slaying convent qua dorm – with the most kickass bloodline and the most powerful warrior-jitzu that Rome has seen in years. But she’s heir to more than that. On the YA supernatural shelf, Astrid is the heir to the empty throne that Buffy Summers has left waiting after seven long seasons of absolute dominion. Though many will claim the crown, there is only one Slayer in any generation (If you don’t count The Dushku, because really, who does?) and I’m not sure if it’s Astrid or Diana, but between them, the throne is empty no longer.
I recommend this book (as I do) for every teen – or grown-up teen – girl you know, because as it turns out, we’re all a little Slayer on the inside.
When Margie handed me Rampant and said, “You HAVE to read this book,” I started that night. I can’t speed read like M, but I finished it fast because I literally couldn’t put it down. Rampant was the perfect storm for me – urban fantasy with a totally original premise, a completely developed universe, and, most importantly, a strong female protagonist that embraces her power. The fact is, I’m a writer, but I’m also a teacher, and I believe the books children and teens read shape their identities and influence them profoundly. I won’t hand one of my teen students a book in which a girl defines herself in terms of a boy. Or worse, is willing to give up who she is for a boy.
I’m tired of reading about girls spending all their time pining for a boy. I want to see her face unicorns the size of elephants and slay them. I want to see her walk away from a guy who hasn’t earned the right to be with her. I want to read about a girl with supernatural powers, who isn’t afraid to use them. Because as a teacher, I watch girls hide their intelligence and skill, their capabilities and talents, all the time. Just so they can be more appealing to a boy.
How do we change this? If you’re Diana Peterfreund, you write a book with a strong female heroine, and you let her slay some pretty badass unicorns. Will this solve the problem, and make every girl feel empowered to be herself and slay her own beasts? No. But it will make SOME girls brave enough to try.
And if a book can do that, it should have a place on every girl’s Special Collections self. Or in her purse, with her wooden stake.
You can keep up with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl at www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.com.
Join the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES US fansite at www.CasterGirls.com.