The Girl Who Would Be King

The Girl Who Would be King uses alternating first-person narration to tell the stories of two young women who discover that they have unusual abilities, their struggles to understand and adapt to them, and the conflict those struggles eventually draw them into. Along the way Bonnie and Lola become, more or less, a superhero andContinue reading “The Girl Who Would Be King”

Rainbow Rowell: Fangirl

Fangirl has a soundbite to make it easy to describe: it’s the YA novel about the girl who writes fanfic. Like most soundbites this is terribly and unfairly reductive; it’s about a whole lot of other things, like growing up, coping with your own neuroses and your family’s unique miseries. It’s nuanced and surprising, oftenContinue reading “Rainbow Rowell: Fangirl”

Sarah Rees Breenan: The Demon’s Covenant

This didn’t have a surprise to compare with the plot twist in The Demon’s Lexicon, but I thought it was much stronger overall: more satisfying character development, better prose, a plot that’s less reliant on coincidence. Brennan is particularly adept at depicting the emotional messiness of adolescence and burgeoning sexual awareness.

Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry

I liked Reeves’ first novel Bleeding Violet so much that I ordered her second in advance of its publication date. And then I didn’t read it until now thanks to a quandary familiar to me: I didn’t want the new book to be the same as the one I just read, but I wanted toContinue reading “Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry”

Sarah Rees Brennan: The Demon’s Lexicon

I wasn’t initially terribly impressed by Brennan’s world-building, but I was drawn in by the good cop/bad cop juxtaposition of brothers Alan and Nick. I thought it was pleasingly unusual that the primary viewpoint character was really not that nice a boy, and there were a few other good details, but I thought I’d workedContinue reading “Sarah Rees Brennan: The Demon’s Lexicon”

Maureen Johnson: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes is tricky to write about while avoiding spoilers, but I found it satisfying, surprising, funny, and even insightful at times, and it almost entirely steers clear of opportunities to veer into sappiness. Protagonist Ginny is cast in the classic mode of A Wrinkle in Time‘s Meg: definitely older, but similarly clever,Continue reading “Maureen Johnson: 13 Little Blue Envelopes”

Johan Harstad: 172 Hours on the Moon

I think I stumbled on Johan Harstad’s 172 Hours on the Moon when I was looking for John Barnes’ Losers in Space; both novels share the plot element of young people trying to get off of Earth to boost their social standing. Aside from that, they could scarcely be more different. In the alternate historyContinue reading “Johan Harstad: 172 Hours on the Moon”

Jonathan L. Howard: Katya’s World

Katya’s World is Russalka, a Russian-settled colony still reeling from a pyrrhic conflict with Mother Earth. Russalka has no land masses, and part of the novel’s fun derives from the relative novelty of incorporating the claustrophobia and blindfoldedness of Das Boot or The Hunt for Red October-style submarine hide-and-seek games into a far-future/alien planet setting.Continue reading “Jonathan L. Howard: Katya’s World”

Beth Ann Bauman: Jersey Angel

Jersey Angel takes a unusually candid look at teen promiscuity for a young adult novel. At the outset, narrator Angel Cassonetti is pretty much ruled by her id. She has a see/want/take attitude towards food (this might be a tough book for dieters) and boys. She sort of works, but selects her employment partly basedContinue reading “Beth Ann Bauman: Jersey Angel”

Lizabeth Zindel: A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills

Holly has problems. Her mom died, and her dad has taken up with her mom’s sister, Claudia, which is pretty oogy. Something that may or may not be her mom’s ghost is crying out for vengeance, and Holly doesn’t know whether to trust it or not. Everyone in Holly’s life has names that start withContinue reading “Lizabeth Zindel: A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills”