Tag Archives: Young Adult Fiction

Book of the Month
March 5, 2011 posted by Christina

Delirium – Lauren Oliver

—–

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable and happy.

But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable…”

Last year, everyone fell head over heels in love with Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall which meant the February release of her dystopian novel, Delirium, was high on a lot of people’s “Can’t wait! Can’t wait!” lists.

As seen in many dystopias, there is something completely terrifying about a society that takes away your freedom, where you must conform to what the government dictates to be acceptable. In Delirium there is the added horror of a society that not only believes that love is a disease, but they have found the cure. A cure which all citizens must submit to, just after their eighteenth birthday. This is the world Lena Haloway knows.

Lena wholeheartedly believes in the cure and is counting down the days until her procedure. Love to her is wrong and unnatural and the cure equals stability and safety, away from the disease that drove her mother to take her own life.

But amor deliria nervosa has a mind of its own when Lena meets Alex. From there the disease starts to take over, but is it really a disease or is this the way things should be? How can something that feels so right be considered deadly wrong?

When I first heard the concept of love being a disease I was definitely curious. But when the symptoms of love, or amor deliria nervosa are explained – sweaty palms, difficulty focusing, loss of appetite, obsessive thoughts and actions, to name a few, it really does sound like a disease.

I found the story a little slow to start but it felt a lot like a rollercoaster  – you creep upwards and you know you’re building up to something big, then when you hit the top, and speed all the way down, and you don’t get off until it’s over, and that’s exactly what reading it was like. Once I hit the part where you’re hooked, I sat there and couldn’t put it down till I finished the whole book.

The main difference between this book and a rollercoaster though, was that this book had a BIG finish. It had one of the most intense, amazing and heart wrenching endings I ever read.

The writing itself is both thrilling and hypnotizing. Lauren Oliver does an amazing job at pin pointing the feelings of love which, for Lena, are not only new and wonderful but conflict with eighteen years of brainwashing that have told her that those feelings are sick and wrong.

Lena and Alex’s romance will definitely steal your heart. Their affair is powerful and tragic and you find yourself desperately hoping they’ll find a way to be together.

The dystopian world built up in Delirium is believable, with its underlying sense of terror – an almost robotic world without freedom and love which is cleverly illustrated by the pieces of propaganda at the beginning of each chapter. The only flaw I can mention is that the reason for why the cure came about isn’t really discussed (at least not in this book). I hope we do get to find what would trigger a whole country (with the exception of those who escaped to the Wilds) to agree to something as crazy as a cure for love.

Delirium is riveting, unforgettable and unputdownable. If while reading it you start to feel your heart racing, that’s the deliria taking over, and you’re feeling it for the book. Welcome to the club.

Pages: 441
Publication Date: February 2011
Publisher: Hachette (Au)/Harper Teen (US)
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★★★

Teaser quote: “They say the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them.

Until now. Now everything has changed.

Now I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years suffocated by a lie.”

Book Reviews
February 21, 2011 posted by Christina

Other Words For Love – Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

“Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari’s relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari’s head with guilty fantasies.

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York – and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn’t think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship.

Ari’s  family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future. Meanwhile, Summer warns her that what she feels for Blake is just an infatuation. No real love. But Ari’s world is awash with new colors, filled with a freshness and an excitement she hasn’t felt in years.”

———–

For this review, we’re doing things a little differently. Never has a debut novel been so sought after by almost every member of the yaReads team and had us all in a flutter, so it seems fitting that we bring you a joint review of Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s Other Words For Love.

Ivy: Holy Guacamole!  Two days after, I’m still thinking about Other Words for Love.  It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  For an urban fantasy lover like me, it’s a breath of fresh air to have read something as real and believable as this book.  It could be your sister, friend, or neighbor’s story.

This is an easy 5 stars.  Outstanding debut Ms. Rosenthal!

Rating: : ★★★★★

Kiona: Other Words for Love is an emotional roller-coaster. Throughout the book, my opinion of Ariadne was ever-changing. In the beginning, I like her. She’s the relatable underdog: a pretty girl often overlooked due to the beauty of her best friend. She’s a hard worker, gets good grades, and is passionate about art. She also pretty much takes care of her out-of-control older sister’s son, which is very altruistic of her considering her sister, Evelyn, treats her like crap. I admire Ari’s inner-strength and ability to look past others’ flaws.

But then she meets Blake and he essentially eclipses the sun of Ari’s world. To me, Blake is a decent enough guy, but I was annoyed by his constant use of the word, “ nice” Anytime she considers doing something he doesn’t like, he makes her feel guilty by saying, “That wouldn’t be nice”. And while Ari is blinded by love, it’s easy to see how much control Blake’s father has over Blake’s life, which just shows how weak Blake is. I understand that that’s the point Rosenthal is trying to convey – that Blake isn’t actually the picture-perfect guy Ari thinks he is. Love interests don’t have to be likable for a story to be likable. But I was disappointed in Ari – who is such a smart girl – for not being able to recognize the signs of Blake’s imperfection and weakness. So halfway through the book, I began liking her less and less.

The middle is also when the story stops being relatable. I lost all respect for Ari when she dropped her friends and focused her entire world around Blake. I know first loves can be all-consuming, but Ari doesn’t have a particularly thriving social life. Yet she still drops Summer, a friend since childhood, and Leigh, a girl who could really use a friend, and she never really repairs these friendships. When Blake dumps her, Ari stops caring about school, her appearance, her nephews, SATs, and even considers suicide. While I’ll admit this happens to some girls, I definitely don’t feel like that it’s the norm. I had to put this book down several times so I could collect my emotions. While I admire that the author can illicit such emotions, I think she did so at the cost of alienating the reader from the protagonist. The ending makes me feel slightly better, but it’s not enough to redeem Ariadne in my eyes.

That being said, I think the writing is superb and Rosenthal clearly knows New York City very well. The descriptions of the city sound genuine and really ground Other Words for Love in the specific time period Rosenthal chose (1980s). I really enjoyed the detailed glimpse in the city and Rosenthal’s exploration of a dysfunctional family is very intriguing. I definitely enjoyed the psychological aspects of this novel, but while I think this is an interesting take on first love, I don’t think it’s a story many girls will be able to relate to.

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Christina:  There are so many different ways to promote books these days. The one way that I completely trust is when everyone (with nothing to gain for doing so) is buzzing about a book as enthusiastically as they were for Other Words For Love. So I’m with Ivy on this one – I completely loved it.

The characters in this book were incredible. Each character was unique, so well fleshed out and had these realistic personalities with both virtues and flaws. Some characters you’ll completely hate and others you’ll grow to understand. Some of them were even quite cruel at times like Evelyn and Summer, who would say certain things that would make me go – GAAAAAASPPPPPPPPPPP! OHHHHH, she did not just say that!  I wanted to dive into the pages, step beside Ari and serve them a swift kick to head for how they acted. This just goes to show how invested you become in these characters and Ari’s story.

What really hit me was just how authentic I felt the emotions expressed in the book were. Everything Ari felt, from her elation at being with Blake, to her eventual heartbreak just felt so so real. Her feelings in the end might seem dramatic but if you’ve ever been heartbroken that’s exactly what it’s like – the colors fade to gray, food seems pointless and you’re stuck in a rut you don’t bother to get out of. I loved how the way Ari felt meant that she perceived the statue of Saint Anne differently – it was very clever and so true.

The part that particular struck me the most me while Ari’s world was falling apart, she felt like all the hard work she’d done up to that point, not just in school but in life, had counted for nothing because of a slip up right at the finish line. For me that was the part where I raised my hand and said “Oh I have been there” Which I think a lot of girls will feel the same about quite a few sections of the book.

If there was a flaw in this book I can only say it was the blurb – it gives too much away. I’ve omitted the last paragraph of the blurb in this review because it basically gives half the story away and I was able to have a good guess about what would happen in the rest. BUT! Despite that, the story’s execution was superb and even though I’d already been told what would happen it didn’t make it any less interesting or heartbreaking or amazing, which proves just how great this book is.

Ari’s life in New York in the 1980s was completely fascinating to read about, in particular to note what has changed and what is still the same. Even after finishing it I couldn’t stop thinking about this story for days after. I was so proud of Ari and what she managed to accomplish in the end, her experiences made her so much stronger. Sign me up for every thing Lorraine Zago Rosenthal writes next. Highly, highly, highly, recommend it.

Rating: : ★★★★★

Two out of the three of us loved it, the other, not quite feeling it. Which side of the fence are you on?

Pages: 354
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Challenge: Historical Fiction/Debut Author
Average Rating: : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “I was looking out the window, checking for neighbors and hoping to give them something to see, when I felt Blake’s hand on my chin. I looked at him, at his straight nose and his perfectly carved lips, and felt his finger move back and forth on my skin. Don’t ask me, I thought. Just do it.”

Book Reviews
February 8, 2011 posted by Christina

Unearthly – Cynthia Hand

“Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteentwo years ago, but only now is her purpose – the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel – becoming clear to her. Clara’s purpose leads her family to Wyoming, where amidst terrifying scenes of a bush inferno, she finds a boy of her visions, Christian. He’s everything she could wish for – so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate Tucker?

Clara discovers that her purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire of her visions erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?”

Under normal circumstances it would only take Richelle Mead’s praise of a book on its front cover for me to say “Well, enough said, I’m reading it!” But it wouldn’t be much of a review if all I wrote was “Richelle Mead says so, READ IT.”

Till now, most of the books I’d read about Angels had been lackluster to fairly decent but nothing that I completely loved, Unearthly changed all that.

Clara has known she was part-angel for two years now and finally, she has begun having visions which are the clues to her ‘purpose’. These visions are cryptic and her purpose isn’t quite clear, only that she sees a boy standing in a forest area that’s about to be engulfed in flames. Who is this guy? Where is the forest? Why is he there? What’s she even meant to do once she’s there? That’s all up to Clara to figure out.

If I could use just one word to describe this book it would be refreshing. Everything from our main character Clara, to the love interests, to the use of angel mythology were so well done it makes this book a stand out amongst its genre.

The storyline was artfully done, with a perfect blend of realism with the supernatural. The writing is easy to read and amazingly captivating – just when you plan on reading one more chapter, you find yourself reading another hundred pages instead.

Some moments were quite suspenseful and I found myself gasping out loud or yelling at the characters hoping in vain that they’ll hear my warnings, but of course, that’s as useful as when your Dad is yelling at players during a football match on tv – they can’t hear you.

I loved that this wasn’t one of those, anti hero, I’m-coming-to-terms-with-these-new-powers-which-by-the-way-I’m-awesome-at-but-waaaa-my-life-will-never-be-the-same-kind-of-books. Clara’s known about her angel abilities for two years already so has had time to adjust to the idea and all the extras that go with being a part-angel, but she still has a lot to learn.

I was also very glad that her family was not only well aware of Clara’s purpose and part-angelness but that they were also part-angels. It was nice that it wasn’t some secret that she had to tip toe around and make lame explanations to cover up.

Clara herself is a completely likeable, down to earth and strong character. Her angel blood means she can naturally excel at things most people have to try very hard to master, but there are other things she really has to work for, especially when it comes to her own angel powers. She’s witty, especially her banter with Tucker, she’s not rebellious but definitely has a mind of her own.

The characters in Unearthly are so well done, each of them being much more than just props to Clara’s story.  They have their own minds and their own issues and goals that they’re working towards so that within the story they’re living with Clara not for Clara and her story.

From the blurb we gather that there are two guys who could be potential love interests. When I saw that I groaned because I’m soooo tired of love triangles. The way the story pans out in Unearthly though is quite unique and though it seems it, it doesn’t conform to what we think of as a normal love triangle. In this case it’s like the characters are just as unhappy about how it as we are.

The love story in Unearthly was so sweet, so beautiful, and once again, absolutely refreshing. It proves that in the supernatural genre you can have a romance that doesn’t happen overnight, or is based on someone just being unbelievably beautiful, or with one of them being stalker obsessed or spineless. I LOVED Tucker….just sayin 😉

Unearthly was extraordinarily fabulous, I’ve used this word a lot so far but I LOVED it. I can’t believe I have to wait till next year for the sequel because a lot was left hanging at the end.  Unearthly proves you shouldn’t give up on the Angels concept by delivering a knock out story that you’ll fall head over heels in LOVE with.

Pages: 432
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenge: Debut Author
Rating: : ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “I take a step toward the boy, open my mouth to call his name. He hears me. He starts to turn. One more second and I will see his face.

That’s when the vision leaves me. I blink, and it’s gone.”

Did you think Unearthly was amazing too? Team Tucker or Team Christian? Come discuss it on the forum!

Book of the Month
January 20, 2011 posted by Christina

Guest Post by Beth Revis

Beth Revis is the author of Across the Universe, an epic sci fi and our Book of the Month for January!

As the author of one of 2011’s most exciting releases, we’ve been lucky enough to take a bit of her time as she addresses an often taboo subject – sex and love in young adult literature. Beth can be found on her website here or on her Twitter – @bethrevis. Also, check out the official website for Across the Universe which features the book’s trailer and a link to the first chapter.

Sex and Love in YA Literature

I never meant to write about sex. I meant to write about murders and mysteries and space and tough decisions and life choices and government and control…but not about sex. However, as I was writing Across the Universe, it came to a point when sex became an inevitable topic, and in order to be honest to my readers and true to the story, I had to write the most difficult scene in the entire book–a scene that made me cry as I wrote it–when my character Amy, a girl from Earth, sees how sex is treated on the spaceship in the future.

I knew that the scene would be touchy, perhaps even controversial, and while I don’t want to ruin the surprise of it for readers who’ve not read yet, I will say that I felt like I had something important to say about sex by the time I wrote about that scene. Sex is a powerful thing, and an important thing, and a wonderful thing, and I don’t think it should be done lightly or casually. When sex becomes nothing more than a physical activity, it loses the emotion–love–that should be behind it, and that is deeply disturbing to me. And that is why I had to write about it.

And, of course, that led me to writing about love. In a society where sex is treated like mating, I wanted Amy to be able to talk frankly about love, too, and how there is a distinction between lust and love. I believe that no matter how far away our society goes from where it is now, love will always be present. But it will also often be difficult. One thing I very much wanted to do was show that love is often not the instant love-at-first-sight that is often portrayed in books and movies. Although Elder falls in love with Amy rather quickly, Amy questions his motives and whether or not his feeling is more of fascination (or obsession) rather than love. I think her refusal of Elder, especially at first, leads him to question how he really feels about her, and that is something I hope my readers do as well. It’s important to ask yourself if you love someone, or just lust after them. That’s a very different thing, even though the feelings may seem the same initially.

In the end, Across the Universe isn’t about love or sex–or, at least, it’s not *just* about love or sex. Love and sex are present because they are a part of the story and a part of the character’s lives. My biggest goal was simply to present them as honestly as I could, and I hope my readers agree!

——-

A big thank you to Beth! For our review of Across the Universe click here, or click here to enter our giveaway.

Across the Universe is available in stores and online now.

Author Interviews
November 24, 2010 posted by Christina

Interview with Ally Condie

Ally Condie is the author of the fantastic new novel, Matched, which is our November Book of the Month! She was nice enough to take the time out for a Q&A in the lead up to the book’s release on Nov. 30th (Dec 2nd for Australia).


**Beware of some spoilers ahead**


Cassia’s world in the Society is so complex and fascinating – where did the idea for the story come from?

Matched was inspired by a few different events—specific ones, such as a conversation with my husband and a time we chaperoned a high school prom—and general ones, like falling in love and becoming a parent.
Matched raises a lot of questions about our own society, as well as, what it means to be happy and the value of freedom – are they issues you wanted to particularly highlight?

Yes! I think happiness and freedom are both things we all want in our own lives now. And sometimes it feels like happiness and freedom don’t go hand in hand. Freedom means tough choices, living with consequences. But is true happiness possible without also knowing hardship and despair? I don’t think so. I think you have to have both sides of the coin.

How much research did you have to do before starting this novel?

I didn’t do any research before starting the novel, but as it progressed, I did do a bit of research into optimal fertility ages (so I’d know when the Society would match people) and also into game theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, etc. My husband is an economist so things like game theory and algorithms come up at the dinner table all the time. He was a great resource, but of course any mistakes in the book are mine alone. J

I guess, as the writer, you get to chose which paintings/songs/poems etc get to be included in The Hundred – did you pick your favorites or did you opt for a list of the most popular of each?

I haven’t actually made lists of all the Hundreds. The only ones I “know” for certain are the ones that I’ve used in the book. And my list of favorites would look very different from the Society’s Hundreds. The Society would be very careful not to include anything subversive or inflammatory. The Society has also eliminated a lot of diversity and culture when they made their Hundreds, which is creepy.

Though Cassia seems quite decided in this book on who her Match is, will we see Xander try to make a comeback?

I don’t want to give too much away—but I will say that Xander is not giving up.

The film rights for Matched have been picked up by Disney – has there been any progress so far?

Not yet! Disney is still looking for a screenwriter. But I will be sure to post any updates I can on the blog.


I know I’m dying to find out what happens next (as I’m sure everyone else will be), what can we expect from the next book?

Let’s see…what am I allowed to tell you? 😉 Book 2 will have two narrators telling the story. And it will be the next part of Cassia’s journey, both physically and emotionally.
Any quirky writing rituals or habits? Where do you prefer to write? Cafe, at home…etc

I like to write at home in my basement “office,” and I also like to write at the public library. I drink a LOT of water while I’m writing and I like to wear a certain hoodie. And I don’t snack a lot while I’m writing, but if I need to stay awake, cinnamon bears usually do the trick.
What’s currently in your to-read pile?

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Great House by Nicole Krauss, and The Beyonders by Brandon Mull. I can’t wait to read them all!

Thank you Ally! Check out our review of Matched here and Ally’s guest blog here

Book Reviews
November 13, 2010 posted by Christina

Genesis – Lara Morgan (Rosie Black Chronicles, Book 1)

“Five hundred years into the future, the world is a different place. The Melt has sunk most of the coastal cities and Newperth is divided into the haves, the “Centrals”; the have-nots, the “Bankers”; and the fringe dwellers, the “Ferals”.

Rosie Black is a Banker. When Rosie finds an unusual box, she has no idea of the grave consequences of her discovery. A mysterious organisation wants it – and will kill to get it.

Forced to rely on two strangers, Rosie is on the run. But who can she trust? Pip, the too attractive Feral, or the secretive man he calls boss?

From Earth to Mars, Rosie must learn the secrets of the box – before it’s too late.”

Life’s not easy in Rosie Black’s world.

The Melt has devastated the earth and sunken all the coastal cities and forced society into a crippling caste system of the haves, “The Centrals” and the have-nots, “The Bankers”. As a Banker, Rosie and her dad struggle to survive after the shattering loss of Rosie’s mother to the MalX disease.
The world as Rosie Black knows it is very different from the one we know today, and the contents of a seemingly harmless little box are about to turn that world upside down.

The box contains a secret, one so incriminating that the powerful Helios corporation will stop at nothing to get back in their possession. But they’re not the only ones who want to get their hands on it. As it becomes clear that Rosie and her family’s safety is in jeopardy she finds herself on the run without knowing who exactly she’s running from or to where. As she falls into the web of the schemes and plots of others, Rosie must put her trust in Pip, a shady and much too attractive Feral (the outcasts of society) and his boss Riley, a man who keeps his cards, and true identity, close to his chest.

Rosie soon realizes that the situation is bigger than all of them as they race to Mars to put a stop to actions that could have devastating consequences.

Genesis is the very impressive first book in the Rosie Black Chronicles, Lara Morgan’s first foray into young adult fiction. Morgan’s dystopia paints a bleak picture of a society where the people are on the one hand, living in gleaming skyscrapers, making progress in medicine, technology and the colonization of Mars, yet at the same time the other half are struggling in poverty and desperation.

The story is gripping and complex as we uncover the layers of conspiracy and hidden agendas within Helios and to what extent each character has played a part in these schemes.  Genesis at times had a very Hunger Games feel, not just with a strong female like Rosie but also with the author’s no holds barred approach to certain characters.

Like all good villains the one in Genesis is not only not apparent at first, but also has motives that sound logical but are obviously misguided. Our villain is also cold and ruthless, but needed a bit more explanation into what made him so, which will hopefully be seen in the next book.

To balance out the breathless action, we see Rosie as well as Pip battle with their emotions as they come to terms with their pasts and the current circumstance they find themselves in. The relationships between characters felt very organic and believable, and not just in the romantic sense. But, behind Pip’s demeanor and endless, obnoxious flirting could there be real feelings?

Genesis is fabulous novel that takes on the dystopia/sci fi concept and does it well. We have a strong female lead in Rosie and plenty of unresolved issues (and feelings) to take us through to the next book.

Pages: 454
Publication Date: October 2010
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote:   “Grunts know how to hit, don’t they?”
The heat in her skin seemed to spread suddenly all over and her heart rate spiked making the machine beep faster. “Get off.”
“You sure?” He glanced at the machine.
“Get. Off.”

Cover of the Week #2
Blog Things
September 24, 2010 posted by Christina

Cover of the Week #2

You should never judge a book by it’s cover.

Sure….but they never said we couldn’t admire them. Cover of the Week pays homage to the beautiful and eye catching graphics that grace the covers of our young adult titles.

This week’s cover of the week goes to Entangled by Cat Clarke
Release Date: January 2011


Some people don’t like having faces on book covers but I think if done well, it can look really good, such as on the cover of Entangled. I love the colors, the red is so vivid and stands out against the white without being too harsh. Does the cover have anything to do with the book? Not sure, from the cover alone you can’t really tell much, other than a girl is probably the main character. Simple but beautiful.

Do you agree? Share your thoughts, leave a comment!