Review by E. Kirshe
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is already on a bunch of lists of books to watch out for and there’s a good reason for that.
Set in Reconstruction-era America, history has taken a turn thanks to the undead plague that arises during the Civil War. The North and South agree to stop fighting each other in order to put down zombies (called shamblers here). The story is told through the first-person narration of Jane Mckeene. Jane is finishing her training to become an Attendant, a person trained in both weaponry and etiquette in order to protect wealthy white women. Thanks to the Negro and Native Reeducation Act this career path is not a choice. Even being the daughter of a very wealthy white woman does not prevent Jane from being required to train at Miss Preston’s school of combat in Baltimore.
Ireland creates a richly drawn brave new America- the worldbuilding in this book is extensive and expertly sprinkled across the pages. Even with the first person narration it never feels like an info-dump. Lots of true history is blended into Ireland’s version- history buffs will recognize some key phrases and inspiration. Continue reading
Review by E. Kirshe
Warcross by Marie Lu is a sci-fi thriller from an author that has already written two other trilogies- Lu is someone who’s had practice and it shows. Warcross will satisfy YA fans of any age. Protagonist Emika Chen is smart, capable, and well drawn out. The world she inhabits is immersive, bright, and is believable enough to seem like it could be the not too distant future.
- The title comes from the game that everyone in the book is playing- Warcross. Within the span of a few years, Warcross, a fully immersive virtual reality game, has become a worldwide phenomenon where almost everyone is at least a casual player. Readers with at least a passing interest in gamer culture (which is everyone, thank you apps) will be able to recognize how similar our world is to Lu’s. Lu mixes so much of her own vision of a future based around this game with very real tech/gamer culture. She creates a bustling and bright future Tokyo backdrop where for the majority of the novel takes place to take place in. Reading her seamless integration of imagined and kind of real tech is half the fun of Warcross.
There’s a whole economy based around Warcross, just like the one surrounding our real world’s popular games. There are pro leagues as well as illegal betting which is where our protagonist comes in. Continue reading
Review by Tess Tabak
This debut novel by Julie Dao is the first book in the Rise of the Empress series. The series explores the imagined youth of Snow White’s Evil Queen in an East Asian-inspired fantasy setting. Xifeng, the protagonist, is a strong, complex young woman struggling to choose between a path of light and dark. She knows the right thing to do, but a voice inside of her urges her on towards evil.
There’s a lot to praise about this novel: Xifeng, our heroine, is strong and powerful, but at the same time she is not immune to the culture and mores of her time. She has to be careful to seem humble and ladylike as she forges her way towards becoming the next Empress of Feng Lu. At the same time, she is more spirited than the women in classic fairy tales. She propels herself by her own choices, not quietly accepting what the world throws at her. Another divergence from the norms: following her destiny for greatness means leaving behind Wei, Xifeng’s handsome boyfriend who longs to marry her and live a quiet life together. We are told that Wei is meant to play some role in Xifeng’s fate, but it’s clear that Xifeng’s journey will be more about realizing her destiny than finding her one true love. Continue reading
Review by Tess Tabak
Tool of War is the third book in Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker trilogy. A fast-moving dystopian YA novel, Tool of War picks up where Drowned Cities left off. Tool has broken away from his masters and is preparing for all out war against the people who created him.
As much as war, this book is about survival. Bacigalupi gives us insight into his characters’ emotional journeys. How do they cope with the horrifying world they live in? Tool grapples with the “monster” he was designed to be, an augment halfway between man and animal, kept genetically chained to his master for most of his life. Mahlia, a young healer who hates violence, faces the idea that she might need to hurt others to defend herself at some point in the near future. There is a rotating cast of main characters, but they all feel distinct and unique in their own way. This makes his dystopian world all the more horrifying: this isn’t happening in some abstract way; the terrible things are happening to these people. Continue reading
YA: young adult, teen, tween, advanced child, less-advanced adult, emotional human
Novel: story, book, doorstop
I know a lot about books, I’ve even read a few. One genre of book that sells well is “Young Adult” (or YA) “literature.” I have read at least one YA novel and I have seen trailers for The Fault in Our Stars, so I’m going to let you in on the secret of how to write a YA novel and make more money than JK Running.
What you’ll need:
- Mac computer
- leather notebook
- fountain pen
- loose papers
- coffee shop
There are three types of YA novels you can choose to write about.
1) post-apocalyptic dystopian romance novel
2) magical/fantasy/vampire romance novel
3) 21st century American teen coming-of-age, cancer romance novel