Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gems Among the Junk (aka, a list of awesome teen books in a sea of same-old-same-old)

I've made a point of not posting book reviews on my blog for a while. Why? Because honestly, I've been rather disappointed with a lot of books lately. I'm in the Amazon Vine program (don't ask me how to join, it's invitation only and I have no idea why I got invited!) and far too many of the books I've gotten through them have been 2-stars.

Frankly, it's really frustrating. I'm getting tired of reading teen books that sound the same. Did I just say that? Yes, I did. No, it's not because I'm old! It's because too many of them are copy-cats. Or because the author voices have no originality. Actually, the last teen book I read (didn't finish, rather) had two POV characters, one female and one male, but their voices were identical. Sigh.

I'm also tired to death of love triangles. And parents being portrayed as idiots. And unrealistic character reactions, especially characters who either accept things far too easily or don't accept/understand what is right in their flippin' faces.

Oh, the list could go on. If you want to check out some of my reviews and see other things I've not been happy with, you can go to my Goodreads page. But that's not what I'm here for today--

Instead, I'd like to highlight some of the gems I've found among the junk:

This is by one of my favorite authors ever. Even more favorite now that I've actually met him in person!

He wrote The Monstrumologist series, which if you like horror AT ALL is the best, most beautifully written horror series in the world.

PS--this is science fiction, not dystopian! Aliens, people. Tired of people classifying this wrong!

This one IS dystopian, and actually impressed me with some original ideas. It's also one of the very few books I've read that starts with an action scene and it worked for me. I'm SO tired of books that start where someone I don't know (read: don't care about yet) is in dangerdangerdanger. No. But this one gets right into the character and situation, starts the action, and makes you care. There is a little stereotypical dystopian stuff in this, but it gets turned on its head, trust me!

Why did I wait so long to read this???? Why???

That's all I have to say. LOVED IT.

Middle grade fiction seems to be getting squeezed out. REAL middle grade fiction, that is. Most of what's being called MG these days is really juvenile level (for kids between ages 8 and 11) and then everyone skips right to YA.

This however, is what MG should be. Magic and adventure and a complex enough story to keep you turning pages all the way through. So impressed with this book and the characters. And the cover!

I had never read anything by Brandon Sanderson. So glad I started with this.

Most of the time I hate when authors from the adult market switch to YA, but not here. I  loved this book for so many reasons. It's got kind of a MG feel to it--nice and clean, pure adventure--but I'd still call it YA. And it's so smart. I kept thinking this is the kind of YA Patrick Rothfuss would write. Awesomeness.

(Another AWESOME YA written by an adult-market author is The Paladin Prophecy.)

If you loved Cinder, you will love Scarlet. It's a great sequel, full of action. I love that Cinder is still a big part of the story.

Grabbed this one at the Scholastic warehouse sale. How do you pass up something with a dragon on the cover and 'thirteenth" in the title? BTW, the cover on my copy is purple. I like this one so much better.

Anyway, again, another nice, clean read with cool magic. It's an alternate history story, written as if the first American colonists had magic. Cool, eh?

Anyway, these are the books that make MG and YA my favorites to read! Hope you found something intriguing in the list and will get out there and add them to your TBR pile :).

Happy reading!


Sparks of Ember said...

Have you read the rest of The Infernal Devices? I adored Clockwork Prince and am avoiding spoilers about the final book until I get time to read it. So far I much prefer this series over the Mortal Instruments books. Though I'm terrified I might change my mind after finally reading Clockwork Princess.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Clockwork Prince is on my shelf, but I haven't read it yet. Soon, though! I haven't read the Mortal Instruments series at all. Isn't this one like a prequel series of sorts? Anyway, I've heard this is the better of the two series from others as well.

Sparks of Ember said...

Kinda a prequel. Since it's the same world and a few characters overlap. But the plots aren't much related. And the Mortal Instruments delves much deeper into the Angel/Demon mythology than Infernal Devices does. (Which is half the reason I prefer ID as sometimes MI makes me a bit uncomfortable.) Sounds like her series that will take place after Mortal Instruments might be a bit more connected as some of the last names are the same.

I enjoy series' that interconnect like that. Bring a touch of the familiar with a new story.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Yeah, I like that too. It's one reason I like the Gates of Heaven series by CS Lakin. The books are all related, but it's not a "series", so they can be read out of order, but you find yourself seeing the connections.

Anyway, thanks for explaining it!

Lyn said...

Wish I had time to read and buy these for my 6th grade class next fall. Thanks for vetting! ;)

Kat Heckenbach said...

You're welcome :).

Chila said...

Good list, Kat. Thanks for providing it; I'll have to grab a couple and try them out.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Cool, Chila. Hope you enjoy them :).