Bass, Alexis. Love and Other Theories.

NY: HarperCollins, 2015.

This is the first YA novel I’ve read by Bass and it’s pretty good. Aubrey Housing, age seventeen and a high school senior somewhere in the Midwest, has early acceptance to the best college in the area. Maintaining the necessary grades for so many years has had a stultifying effect on her social life, but now she decides its time to take her friends’ advice and cut loose. And on the first day of her last semester, she’s sitting in drama class, thoroughly bored, when transfer student Nathan Diggs walks in, a very good-looking guy from San Diego.

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Buxbaum, Julie. What to Say Next.

NY: Delacorte, 2017.

This is a much deeper and more thoughtful examination of high school romance than most I’ve seen. David Drucker is a very high-functioning borderline autistic whose life has long been made hell by classmates sneering at him as a “retard,” when he actually has the highest IQ of any kid in the school. He copes with the outside world by wearing headphones that surround him with music as he walks from one class to another, and by referring regularly to his notebook of rules and character sketches of everyone he interacts with.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Kingdom of Gods.

NY: Orbit, 2011.

The most common pattern for a fiction trilogy is for a good deal of action and the introduction of strong characters in the first volume (to hook the reader), extended plot development and a relative lull in action in the second volume (the “bridge”), and a wrapping-up of everything in the third volume. Jemisin declines to follow that well-worn path, though.

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Cameron, Dana. Site Unseen.

NY: HarperCollins, 2007.

For some reason, I seem to be reading a lot of murder mysteries involving archaeologists lately. Unfortunately, though I had hopes for it, this really didn’t turn out to be one of the better ones. It’s the first in a series featuring thirty-year-old Emma Fielding, whose specialty appears to be North American colonial sites, which this time is a very early English fort on a coastal river near Penitence Point, Maine.

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Published in: on 28 January 2018 at 9:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dessen, Sarah. What Happened to Goodbye.

NY: Viking, 2011.

Dessen is a first-rate author whose novels are directed at young adults but which should be of interest to anyone who enjoys a good story and thoughtful writing, regardless of age. The protagonist of this one is seventeen-year-old McLean Elizabeth Sweet, who was named after her basketball-fanatic father’s favorite college coach. But then the coach retired and his younger replacement ran off with McLean’s mother, which kind of soured both of them on the sport.

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Dessen Sarah. The Truth About Forever.

NY: Penguin, 2004.

I’ve become a fan of Dessen’s books, which are marketed as “young adult” but the themes of which are of interest to all readers. While there’s always a romantic element, it’s never cut-and-dried and absolutely never clichéd. Certain themes recur, too: The sibling who is either much more perfect than the narrator, providing a role model it’s impossible to live up to, or else a complete disaster, which reflects on the sibling and makes her life more difficult.

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Friedman, Aimee & Christine Norrie. Breaking Up.

NY: Scholastic, 2007.

This is a graphic novel about high school kids, undoubtedly aimed at high school kids, which is fine. But it doesn’t quite work. The focus is on four third-year girls at an arts magnet, each one of whom is (naturally) completely different from the other three. One is essentially a slut and the dominant personality, one is the shy hugger-peacemaker, one is being driven crazy by straitlaced parents, and the fourth, the narrator, is interested in a guy no one else approves of.

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Published in: on 5 August 2017 at 7:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tamaki, Mariko & Jillian. This One Summer.

NY: First Second, 2014.

The Tamaki sisters, one writing the story and the other doing the art, made a splash a few years ago with Skim, about a rather geeky and overweight teenager in a private school. I really liked the true-to-life writing, though I had some reservations about the slightly strange artwork. This one again follows a young girl through a very ordinary piece of growing up, though it seems much more complicated to her.

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Dessen, Sarah. The Moon and More.

NY: Viking, 2013.

Dessen has won a number of awards for her novels and frequently appears on “Best of the Year” lists — but always as a “Young Adult” author. That’s a form of ghettoization I try to avoid. I consider her simply a first-rate author of highly enjoyable fiction, period. Her eleventh book is about 18-year-old Emaline, plowing through her last summer at home, working in the family’s three-generation beach-rental business before heading off to a nearby state university. A perfectionist, highly organized (she was the only 5th Grader with her own filing cabinet), and a naturally helpful sort, she’s very well liked in the little coastal town of Colby (which feels like North Carolina), and she knows absolutely everyone.

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Griffith, Nicola. Stay.

NY: Random House, 2002.

This is the second novel about Aud Torvingen, six-foot-tall Atlanta ex-cop, private investigator, self-defense and martial arts expert, new multimillionaire by inheritance, Lesbian, and experienced killer (“violence is a tool like any other”), whom we first met in The Blue Place. And it’s a doozie.

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Published in: on 22 August 2016 at 4:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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