the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne Valente

published in October 2012

where I got it: borrowed ARC from a friend

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A year has passed, it’s time to visit Fairyland again. It’s got to be better than Nebraska, where the other girls at school aren’t interested in being September’s friend, and food is purchased with ration coupons. The sooner she gets back, the sooner she can be with the best friends a girl could ever ask for: a book loving wyverary and a shyly beautiful marid.

After a rough and lonely landing in a glass forest, September notices drastic changes in her surroundings. None of her friends come to greet her, magic is being rationed, and the few magical creatures she meets are terrified of her.  Maybe she’s just landed in a provincial area of Fairyland? But no, Fairyland has changed, and not for the better.  Humans don’t belong in Fairyland, and when they leave, they aren’t supposed to leave things behind.  When September last visited, she left her shadow behind, and it’s been up to all sorts of trouble.

For the last year, while September was doing sums and spelling, her shadow was living the high life in Fairyland-below.  Known as Halloween, the Hollow Queen, her shadow rules Fairyland-below, where there are no rules, no bedtimes, no lost friends, and and un-attached to their other selves, the shadows are suddenly free to live their own lives, and do everything they’ve never been able to do before.

Ell the Wyverary and Saturday the Marid didn’t greet her when she landed in the glass forest, but their shadows were waiting for her when she landed in Fairyland-below.  Are these the same Ell and Saturday that September had so many adventures with? Shadow-Ell and Shadow-Saturday are elated to be freed of the shackles of their other selves, this is the first time they’ve ever had any control over their own lives.

As Halloween hosts her revels, and her invisible assistant pulls down more shadows from Fairyland-above, Septembers feels more and more that something is wrong. Why can’t she just reunite with her shadow? Why won’t anyone listen to her?  why doesn’t anyone seem to care about the damage that’s being done to Fairyland-above? If Halloween is such a reckless, horrible person, does that mean that deep down, September is too?

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente

Published May 2011

Where I got it: the library

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What can I say, I love everything Catherynne Valente writes. Every story, every myth, every character, every metaphor she touches, they all turn to golden quicksilver – slippery words that swim towards each other to create something so very true and very magicial.  If you still haven’t read her – if Deathless looks a little too heavy or dark, if The Habitation of the Blessed looks a bit too intense, if you’re simply not quite sure about this strange woman that I refuse to stop talking about, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making is a perfect place to start.  Why? Because this is a young adult book. Although adults will joyously zip through it, smiling at the adventures found by a girl named September, and wiping away a tear when she finds what she’s looking for.  It’s part Alice in Wonderland, part Wizard of Oz, part hero’s quest story and part growing up story, part losing something and finding something, it’s all the pieces that grow up to become the person we’d all like to be.

Young September has the kind of childhood many of us will recognize – a boring one. She craves adventure and gets to wash dishes instead. She misses her father, and he’s a continent away, fighting a war she doesn’t understand. When the Green Wind appears at her window and asks if she’d like to accompany him to Fairyland, September doesn’t even think about it. She just goes.  Fairyland is as wonderful and as amazing as she’d always hoped. But it’s also frightening, confusing, and slightly feral.

Very lucky younger children will have parents who read this book to them, one delicious chapter at a time, at bedtime.  Those children will dream the most magnificent dreams, and their school teachers may bring up their strange school drawings at parent-teacher conferences. Even luckier children will read this book back to their parents, not understanding why their parents are laughing their heads off at the oddest moments. Those parents will dream the most magnificent dreams, waking wistful, yet satisfied in a rather kaleidoscopic way.

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The Falling Machine (Society of Steam, book 1), by Andrew Mayer

published in May, 2011

Where I got it: received review copy from PYR

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Being “Victorian”, most steampunk I’ve read takes place in Victorian England, so it was very refreshing to read a steampunk that takes place in the United States. Even better, to a city I’ve visited before, New York City.  Mayer has taken the hustling, bustling, industrializing, Brooklyn-Bridge-just-starting New York City of 1880 and added superheroes, villains, automatons, and mad scientists.

Sarah Stanton, daughter of famed industrialist Alexander Stanton, lives a life of privilege. Although she isn’t supposed to leave her house without a chaperone, and she can’t vote or own property or choose her own husband, Sarah has been allowed to study under the inventor Dennis Darby.  Darby, leader of the international group of superheroes known as The Paragons, and creator of the walking, talking, thinking automaton known as Tom, is Sarah’s favorite person in the whole world.  When Sarah witnesses Darby’s violent death, his dying words regarding the future and her place in it become her responsibility.

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Ya’ll know I’m not a big fan of YA or kid fiction.  Well, I’d being interested in reading a lot more of it if it was all as good as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson.

A friend lent me her boxed set of the first three Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, and I recently I finished the first book, The Lightening Thief.  Adorable, fast paced, funny, and wonderfully intelligent, I think I might like this better than Harry Potter.  And I’ve got the urge to pull out all my old Greek Mythology books from college and maybe watch Disney’s Hercules (James Woods as Hades? sweet).

Thinking he’s a normal kid, eleven year old Percy Jackson keeps getting kicked out of every boarding school his mom sends him to. It’s not his fault he’s dyslexic, a little ADHD, and horribly, unbelievable unlucky.  We find out rather quickly that Percy’s father is a Greek God, and for his own safety he is shuttled to Camp Half-Blood, where you got it – children who are half blood humans (also known as godlings) can safely grow up and learn how to use their powers. If they’re lucky, they might even find out who their immortal parent is.  

But of course it’s not as easy as that.  Just by being born in the first place, Percy has set off what could turn into World War Three.  Gods are blaming each other left and right and preparing for the final battle, and if Percy doesn’t find Zeus’s stolen lighting bolt fast, he’ll be the first corpse that Hades sends into battle. As with many traditional greek hero myths, Percy visits the Oracle, and is joined on his quest by friends and magical items.  Gods and demigods give him gifts and information, but continually warn him that every gift comes with a price.

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Look at some new goodies I have!

From the publisher (Thanks Pyr!!!) we’ve got The Wolf Age and Blood of Ambrose by James Enge.  I’m super excited about these, I think Enge is right up my alley. BTW, check out the Enge novelletta, Traveller’s Rest on the PYR blog. you can download it all e-book like, or if you are super-old-skool like me, you can print it out and read it, killing a tree and promoting use of toxic printer ink.

Borrowed from a friend:

The first three (is there more than three??) Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan.  See that bookmark in the first one?  I started reading it yesterday, and I gots one question:  why isn’t all YA stuff this good? 

Also, I’ve got Joe Hill’s Horns on hold at the library, to be picked up tomorrow, hopefully along with some classic Robert Silverberg.

Progress made towards my New Years Resolution to read what I’ve got instead of aquiring new stuff? ZERO.

 

Are you a YA fan who is looking for something a little grittier, a little meatier, a little SF-ier?

Are you an adult SF/F fan looking for something a little lighter, but still with the grit and humor you’ve come to enjoy from your favorite writers?

If you answered “why yes! Yes I am!” to either of those questions, allow me to introduce you to some great SF/F YA reads by authors who are known for writing for adults.  

For the Win, by Cory Doctorow – American kids enjoy online games for fun. Asian and Indian kids play online games for money, more than just what gold farming can give them. When the undertrod, underpaid, undervalued child workers are taught the word union, only good can come of it. right?

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow – big brother might be watching, but what happens when little brother watches back? Of every book on this list, this was the hardest book for me to read, and I don’t mean hard intellectually. I believe  Little Brother should be required reading in every high school government class, but I’m sure once it got some attention it would be banned.

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville – Part Wizard of Oz, part Alice in Wonderland, and very punny.  You just can’t not like this book!

The WWW series by Robert Sawyer – the first book in the series didn’t do much for me, but as far as YA reads go, this is a contemporary SF winner.  Blind teenager Caitlin can “see” the world wide web, and there is something there that can see her.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman – what can I say about this that hasn’t been said before? if you haven’t read it, you owe it to yourself to enjoy this book!

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game as YA? really? hey, it’s what all the cool kids were reading when I was a teenager. It’s a SF classic.

Which of these have you read? Which of these look most promising?


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.