Monday, April 26, 2010
A look at some young adult fiction
I have a mission to read many of the young adult books in our local library. Being a voracious reader myself, and always lacking for time to read, I have found the young adult books fill a void in my life. I started reading them to know what to recommend to teenagers and other parents at the library. Then I found they fill a nice place in my life, a quick read that is usually fulfilling. Most of what I've read has been well done.
Well, let me qualify that a bit. I prefer to read classics. I love books that make you think while telling you a story, books with depth of character, outstanding descriptions and character development, wit and clever wordplay. Most of the current books lack many of those qualities, therefore I find them to be quick reads, promptly forgotten once put down. There are notable exceptions to this observation about current bestsellers and new releases, but for the most part I'm not a fan of current fiction.
That all being said, I have taken to reading young adult books to see what the kids are reading these days. Last year I read all of the Twilight books. I enjoyed the stories, though I could not stand the writing style. Stephenie Meyer is a great story-teller who should have been given more support from her publisher. She needed better editors. By the time I read her fourth book, I was substituting words in my head to take the place of 'muttered' and 'mumbled' because she used those words so frequently. Despite the excellent story of Edward and Bella, the writing quality was so poor I am resolved to avoid further releases from this author. Her publisher did her a grave injustice.
I have also read the Maximum Ride books written by James Patterson. This is a fabulous series which opens teens to thinking about issues which they may have to face in the future, such as cloning, genetic mutation, inter-species breeding, pollution and air quality, etc. All of these issues are dealt with by the protagonists, bird-people, Max being the teen-aged leader of the flock. The writing style I found to be accessible to teens, and appropriate for the story. When compared with Ms. Meyer, Mr. Patterson is the superior writer by far, but I still found myself longing for a quality possessed by the classics. I think most people would be intrigued and drawn in to these books, and I would recommend them for anyone. There is also an excellent resource to help your teenager understand the issues more fully: http://www.max-dan-wiz.com/page/educators-1
I have read the Harry Potter books, and the Books of Pellinor, both of which I've discussed in earlier posts which I believe are still on my sidebars. They are examples of the writing style which I prefer to read. Surprisingly they are both fantasy series, a genre I never fully appreciated until reading these.
The Fetch would be categorized as a supernatural romance, like Twilight, though The Fetch is not about vampires. I read this book and was not at all sure how I felt about it upon completion. Written by Laura Whitcomb, The Fetch is about a young man, Calder, who died at nineteen and has been dead for over 300 years. His job is to escort the dying down the Aisle of the Unearthing, to Heaven. It is intriguing. He makes some choices that disturb the natural order of things, such as occupying the body of deceased man which deprives the dying man of his escort through the Aisle and condemns him to the Land of Lost Souls (purgatory or even hell perhaps). By stealing a body, Calder is able to walk the earth as an immortal trapped in a mortal (dead) man's body. By choosing to do this, Calder upsets the land of the living and the land of the dead and must go about setting things right. His reasons for committing what he sees as a dereliction of his duties and a sin against God, are love. He falls in love with a mortal woman. Of course there are many more twists to this interesting tale, my heart was not in it to begin with, as I mentioned in my earlier post. In the end the book proved interesting enough to give me pause, and to make me ditch my schoolwork in favor of reading! I think I shall have to leave this book on my nightstand, it deserves a closer look than what I gave it initially. If anyone should read it, I would be interested in your insights. While it is classified as a romance, I feel it is more of an examination of choices, consequences, humility, and yes, love.