young adult fiction

fudgejune01

I've been meaning to write a post about young adult novels for some time now. I just started reading them again last year, mostly because I tend to gravitate towards heavy literature with meandering narratives and I really needed something light for a change.

Two of those YA novels are Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days and Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, both I read in one sitting because it was almost impossible to put them down. Both are also first person narratives by female protagonists who are very intelligent, passionate, and brave. I really like that both of these young women were written as independent characters with a lot of inner strength as opposed to your damsel in distress that is so common in fantasy and romance novels.

Book of a Thousand Days is a story about a young maid named Dashti and her personal account of the years she spent locked inside a tower together with the lady that she was serving. I had no expectations before I started reading this novel and was so captivated by it right away. Shannon Hale's writing is very lyrical and she created a world that is both bleak and yet very enchanting at the same time. And as a narrator, Dashti may be one of the most unforgettable voices that I've read in awhile. She is such an inspiring character and you can't help but root for her as she fights to survive and help the ones she love.

Another aspect that I loved about Book of a Thousand Days is that the romance subplot is very believable and realistic.  How Dashti fell in love with Khan Tegus without seeing his face first but by talking to him through a tower wall and sharing the same sense of humor. Their conversations and the way they relate to each other felt very real to me and I liked that the story focused on their friendship and how they can make each other laugh. These are the type of characters that you'd want to revisit every now and then or read the story out loud.

On the other hand, The Hunger Games is a plot-driven rather than a character-driven novel. The writing is straightforward and simple but what keeps you hooked is the element of suspense. I wasn't surprised when I found out later that Suzanne Collins was a television screenwriter before she started writing novels because The Hunger Games is very action oriented and fast-paced. And while I thought the plot started to fizzle towards the latter part of the novel, I still really enjoyed reading it.

Because of its upcoming movie adaptation, there's been a lot of comparison between The Hunger Games and the Twilight series but I can tell you right now that aside from having two boys falling for the same girl, the two novels are completely different. The latter is mainly focused on the love story while The Hunger Games is broader in scope and there is a lot more at stake than just the romance. Katniss, the novel's heroine, is so much more independent and kickass compared to a certain someone who is constantly whining and in need of a man to rescue her.

In fact, it is interesting how in both Book of a Thousand Days and The Hunger Games, there is somewhat of a role reversal in your typical male-female dynamic with strong heroines ending up having to protect or risk their lives for the people they care about, Dashti using her wit and healing songs and Katniss with her bow and arrow. In a genre recently dominated by sparkly vampires and weak female characters, this is very refreshing indeed.

Do any of you read young adult novels? Which ones are your favorite?

Image scanned from Fudge Magazine via clever nettle

16 comments:

  1. so have you seen the actual movie "young adult"? I saw it with some girls at work at MOMA...it was a free film screen. it was actually funny as crap and I thought it was a decent movie. either way, i really want to read hunger games...thinking about going to check it out.

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    1. i haven't heard of the movie but i will definitely keep an eye out. and yes, you should read Hunger Games. its the kind of escapist read that will keep you hooked and then forget about it afterwards. :)

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  2. I haven't read Book of a Thousand Days but I'll keep an eye out for it, it sounds intriguing.

    I've read The Hunger Games trilogy, also in one sitting (per book!). I don't normally read YA but read lots of the genre last year. Turned out to be a bit hit and miss, but I did love this series. I loved Katniss so much and there really isn't any comparison between her and whatsherface.

    Are you going to see the movie? All good reviews, from what I've read. I'm going to wait a week or so and let the crazy die down a bit before I venture to the cinema.

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    1. annelise, i'm planning to see the movie but like you i'll wait out until the hype calms down a bit. swooning tweens inside movie theaters are a bit scary. i should know, i was one of them before. haha!

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  3. I haven't read either, and to be honest, I've been so reluctant to read The Hunger Games because of all the hype. When something is constantly in my face, I tend to shy away from it. But if you liked it, maybe I should give it a try.

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    1. oh, i am the same way. i haven't read harry potter or lord of the rings for precisely the same reason.

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  4. i still need to read The Hunger Games...and BoaTD would be a wonderful read-aloud, I heartily concur. It makes me happy that you've read that; Shannon Hale's books have been so important to my life.

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    1. holly, i have an audio book for BoaTD and i love it t pieces. her songs really came to life! :)

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    2. audio book! with songs! oh my...may i borrow it?

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  5. Where to start. Knife of Never Letting Go (the trilogy by Patrick Ness), John Green's Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, and Divergent by Veronica Roth. All absolutely wonderful in their own ways. That should keep you occupied for a while...

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    1. Maja, thank you. I've heard a lot about The Night Circus and Perks of Being a Wallflower, I will check them out from the library. :)

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    2. Perks is one of my most favorite (we are talking top five ever here) books. I fervently wish I wrote it and am infinitely grateful it exists. I actually just finished The Fault in Our Stars today and it reminded me of it in the best way possible. If you read them, read them together. They are in the sad but beautiful and funny also category. Ditto Alaska. How I Live Now is slower, more serious, quietly heartbreaking. The rest are the best dystopia/action stuff around, with Night somewhere in the middle. Genuinely, partly because I write similar things myself (or try to), I read tons in the genre (but I also read tons more generally, so little wonder). These really are full proof best there is in most recent years (in my humble opinion). I would love to hear how you got on!

      PS I neglected to mention The Hunger Games is very much up there for me as well. Katniss is kickass. And the author doesn't shy away from more difficult stuff (including a not always particularly likeable Katniss).
      PPS It's been a while, I hope you are doing ok :)

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    3. M, thanks for the book suggestions! I also sent you an email via your blog email add, wasn't sure if you got it. :)

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  6. I love young adult books, I truly believe they can be as quality as adult books and they were very important to me when I was growing up! I've actually been planning to do a round up of my favorites in the future, probably this summer...for now the one that comes to my mind first, always, is The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan. It's really beautiful. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

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  7. Hello--I just found your blog and am really enjoying it. I found myself in a ya phase last year and read some really amazing books. A few of my favorite authors: Melina Marchetta: I've read Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, and Looking for Alibrandi. She is an Australian writer. These books were really great. And Franny Billingsley: Chime and Well-wished are the two I have read. There is another series that has been popular lately: The Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck. These ones have an interesting and unexpected mix of mythology and culture.

    Thanks for your recommendations. I will definitely check out both yours and the others' recommendations. And thanks for the inspiring blog in general. I am glad I found it!

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