Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘young adult’

YOU by CHARLES BENOIT: An Original Format is Nothing Without Original Content.

I took a look at this book because it’s told in SECOND PERSON OMG. I think this experimentation is a truly great thing in the world of YA lit.

But I regret to say that if it hadn’t been told in SECOND PERSON OMG, I would not have read beyond the cover. I read thirty five pages of it, then skipped to the end. Here’s why.

The prologue involves some kind of accident involving blood, and the main character trying to figure out where things went wrong. There are hints that he’s on a track toward death. Yet, all of the content you get to fill in these spaces does not involve A) Deep, involving emotion, B) extraordinary, interesting circumstances, or even C) eloquent angst. It’s mostly cliched whining about authority and academic boredom.

The love interest is flat and cliched in every way. The friends are flat and cliched in every way. After thirty five pages, the only glimmer of redeeming character depth is a one-sentence panic attack that culminates in a didactic break of POV in its rush to be quickly dismissed.

This is not how teenagers work. Sure, we can all dismiss and hide from guilty feelings. But if it’s THAT easy, it’s boring.

What gets me is how overwhelmingly didactic the story is; kid hangs out with rough crowd, angst a bit, one things leads to another, then blood. We’ve all seen this horror story. We’ve been forced to endure it in Drivers Ed classes, Don’t Drink Seminars, etc.

Who thought that telling it in second person was a good idea?? It reads like a sermon from the bored; every other sentence could begin with “Of course.”

At least for the first thirty-five pages, it’s downright condescending.

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER: THOUGHTS & REVIEW

I’ll admit it. I read this book for the cover:

Come on. It’s gorgeous. Emotional. Thought-provoking. I wanted to know what it was about.

I’m going to give you an important piece of information up front: It’s a cliffhanger in the worst way. Very little is resolved at the end. It is not a self-contained story.

Buuuut I am looking forward to reading the rest.

Strengths:

The story blurs genres and borders on literary. Are we reading about the supernatural or simply post-traumatic stress disorder? Young adults who have been diagnosed with anxiety/depression/bipolar are common and this book exaggerates and begs the questions the many of them are asking: How crazy is crazy?

The love interest is a fantastic character. A modern Mr. Darcy with plenty of style, flirtation, flaw, and appeal. Reading this as purely a love story is very reductive compared to what it tries to be, with the many other elements it explores – but it’s probably the most effective and appealing way to read it.

The letter at the very beginning is pretty cool. You find out that Mara Dyer isn’t Mara Dyer’s real name, but simply the name she’s chosen to work with while she writes out this story. She’s telling this story for a reason – this appeals to me immensely.

Flaws:

Of course, its failure to be a self-contained story is a flaw.

I don’t think Michelle Hodkin really meant to portray anything like PTSD, and the way the story is set up is somewhat misleading about it. PTSD is a disorder which involves a person who is unable to stop thinking about a traumatic event. Mara finds it pretty darn easy to move on. After the first seventy pages or so, it’s easy to forget that this girl’s best childhood friend and boyfriend just died. I understand the author probably felt pressure to avoid angsting but… a girl in that situation would probably, in fact, angst a bit. She has every license to angst a bit. And she doesn’t. She just moves along, pursues new relationships, and comes off as a bit of a sociopath. I was truly hoping that the novel would climax in her realizing all of the emotion she’s been repressing – no such luck.

The quotations on the back are misleading. This book is not that scary! Mara, whose head we are always within, operates under the assumption that the scary things that happen to her are not real, but hallucinations and delusions. They don’t fail to operate in that way.

Hope this is helpful.

KELLEY SONNACK AT ANDREA BROWN LITERARY AGENCY ~ THOUGHTS

I’m back! I thought I’d share my thoughts on an agent I had an experience with recently:  Kelly Sonnack with Andrea Brown Lit. I got a positive response to a query I sent her back in September and traded three or four rounds of subsequent emails with her before I was ultimately rejected.

Ms. Sonnack was very polite. I can find no fault with the professional nature of her emails, as I could with other agents. She formatted all of her criticisms with “I like… but…,” the exact style I encourage wherever I can.

She did say one thing that got under my skin. She didn’t like the narrative choices I had made with my story, and at one point she expressed this in a way that made my writing sound like a mess that needed to be “put together.” That may simply say a lot about my sensitivity, though.

Overall, she was helpful. Based on her criticism and the concerns of a few other of my trusted critics, I began another rewrite. I reworked the narrative into a simpler if less compact form.

Another positive experience!

A few notes about Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary

I just wanted to say she seems like a nice lady. The open-minded sort. She was another one who made the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop worthwhile for me last year, suggesting I email her at the very last moment of the conference, shortly after the last class. I had asked a question during a panel about young writers and whether my age was something appropriate to mention in a query. She said yes – It’s a marketing point and a strength.

Dream Diary:  I dreamed about getting to see my long-distance boyfriend!

Word Count:  Still around 20,000.

My Whole New World ~ The Little HS Author Starts College

Sorry for the long time no see! My life has been a little crazy as I’ve made a rather epic transition. I am no longer little Fort Millian high schooler. It’s to Columbia with me, to the Honors College at the University of South Carolina.

Sweet freedom. Sweet change. Sweet refuge from dramaaa…

For the last three weeks or so, my focus has been all on the changes and not on my writing. Regrettable. But necessary. Now I am ready to buckle down and GO.

I spent a nice hour in the bookstore today doing my Cinderella Mouse thing – gather stacks of books so high I have to use my chin to keep them from falling. Then I sit down with them and scan through the pitches and acknowledgements pages, taking notes on the books that sound interesting and literary agents I need to check out. (I’ll type my notes up below.)

I LOVE doing this.

I also realized something pretty epic when I was in the bookstore today. There used to be about nine shelves filled with teen fiction. Within the last three or four months, that number has grown to eleven.

If I miss this wave, I will not know what to do with myself. Thanks to Miss Stephanie Meyer and Mr. Edward Cullen, my genre is skyrocketing, maybe just in time, maybe in time….

Meh Notes:

Title – Author ~ Agent
Waiting for You – Susane Colasanti ~ ? *(I found this one interesting because the acknowledgements made references to depression and anxiety, topics of personal interest to me.)
Bait – Alex Sanchez ~ Miriam Altshulter
Snap – Carol Snow ~ Stephanie Kip Rostan
My Soul to Take – Rachel Vincent ~ Miriam Kriss (Interesting for its language. I read the first page.)
Shiver – Maggie Steifvater ~ Laura Rennert
Breathless – Jessica Warman ~ Andrea Somberg (Gorgeous cover on this one, but the only word in the pitch that caught my interest was “semiautobiographical”)
Graceling – Kristin Cashore ~ Faye Bender
Kissed by an Angel – Elizabeth Chandler / Mary Claire Helldorfer (This is one I should read because it resonates so well with my life and the stories I tell, but I haven’t been able to find this lady’s agent if she has one.)
Twenty Boy Summer – Sarah Ockler ~ Ted Malawer (I think this title was a bad idea.)
Reincarnation – Susanne Weyn (This has the potential to be FASCINATING.)
Radiant Darkness – Emily Whitman ~ Nancy Gallt
The Fetch – Laura Whitcomb (I’ve heard this ones really good.)
A Kiss in Time – Alex Flinn ~ George Nicholson
As You Wish – Jackson Pearce ~ Jenoyne Adams


I left the store with:

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (I need to read her books. I just need to.)
Odd Hours by Dean Koontz (So I don’t have to borrow it from Megan again)
Prom Nights from Hell by Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe, Stephanie Meyer, and Lauren Myracle (Needed this too.)
Pride & Prejudice  by Jane Austen (An extra copy because I shall be reading it for SCHOOL ^.^)

More later! ❤

Books books books books books!

I’ve been trying to write my thoughts on a couple of novels down for a while now, but I’ve realized I don’t want to make complete posts of them. I’d rather combine them in something of a monster post.

The first book on the list is Watchers. I’ve been  a huge fan of Dean Koontz since my best friend Meggie Monster picked up Odd Thomas and forced me to listen to her read it aloud. Oddie is one of the few boys over whose hotness Meggie and I have never argued. It’s a very good thing he does not exist.

watchers

I also picked up Watchers because she recommended it. I love the way the title plays into the book. I loved Travis and Nora. Okay, Nora’s story absolutely gripped me.

And of course, I loved the dog.

I was surprised when I realized that the book was written two years before I was born. The entire first half of the novel aged beautifully. The second half, not so much. The 100 pages (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration) that Koontz spent building up the suspense that surround a traceable phone call was tiring. I started skipping things. That’s really the only thing I feel I can criticize.

Another book I read on vacation this summer was Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

geisha

In a nutshell, I completely fell in love with the writing during the first 1/5-1/3 of the book. The rest didn’t impress me as much. What happened, Mr. Golden? Where did the clever descriptions and simmering passion go?

Thankfully, it did come back in snapshots that mainly surrounded Sayuri’s visits to the artist (If I had the book with me I’d look up the name), the horrifying description of her encounter with the Minister, and her final revelations with the Chairman. I find this book’s ending absolutely delightful…if a little plot-holey.

I think I can make a full post out of my review of In Odd We Trust. Like I said, I ♥ Oddie.

Book 2 Word Count:  11, 000

Partial Requests:  3

Book 2 is Underway!

All I have time for today is a quick update. I want to get going on organizing my life for college. Finally I feel the drive.

I hit the 10,000-word mark on book 2 today. Hooray! It’s been a geniune struggle to start this one, so I’m over the moon. I simply can’t write this one in order. Just can’t.

Word Count:  10,225

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  Loving college.

Tag Cloud