Hello, everyone! Are all three of you here? Good. I have been away awhile. But don't worry, though I haven't been writing, I have certainly been reading. Clearly I like books, so this should be obvious, but I sometimes go through periods of literary apathy. I credit this largely to my job, which includes reading copious amounts of fiction all day (Listen, I'm almost done crying you this river, so just be patient), but I will admit that sometimes I just stop reading and don't really know why. Anyway, I stopped reading for fun sometime in the bustle of buying a home (!) and packing and moving and all this time also working and generally panicking about life. I needed a kick start, and I decided to go on vacation to visit my friend Chloë (visit her wonderful blog, to which I too-seldom contribute) in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Vacations are good for sightseeing but I also wanted to use the downtime, what seemed like my first in weeks, to read. But what book? I was coincidentally, what with the moving and the vacation and all, having some anxiety about money, so I decided to read one of the many books I have sitting on my bookshelf, living the sad lives of unread and unappreciated literary genius. The book I chose was Apologize, Apologize! by Elizabeth Kelly, and I could not recommend it highly enough. It is not for young adults specifically; you would find it in the fiction section of your local bookstore, but I feel it is a book that teenagers would appreciate just as well as "adults." It is also a perfect summer read, and not in that way that people say where they mean you don't have to use your brain at all. This book is a hilarious look at an extremely dysfunctional family, written in beautifully poetic language with incredible insight. (That was my extremely poor attempt at a real book review/blurb, I guess. Needs some work. Too many adjectives?) Needless to say, I liked it. It got me excited about reading again, and I moved on to other books with enthusiasm, including, and here's where this post becomes at least semi-relevant to the blog's subject matter, some YA!
By this point my anxiety about money was gone, which was good because I had already read all the YA books on my shelf and therefore needed to buy more. But which ones? A friend had brought my attention to the twitter account of a wonderful local bookstore, Nicholas Hoare (@NicholasHoareTO). The person running this account (I am still not sure which cute bookstore guy this is, though I have speculated on it every time I've been to the store since; if it's the woman who works there I will be extremely disappointed) was doing an amazing thing. People wrote him with the names of three books they liked, and he would recommend a new book that he thought they would like. So cool, right? I jumped right in, made it in just under the wire with my books. One was The Great Gatsby, one was Apologize, Apologize! and one was Paper Towns by John Green, who is, incidentally, a person I like to think of as my nerd author husband. I should write a whole post on him. It would be no problem for me, let me tell you. TO THE POINT. NicholasHoareTO recommended a book called The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.
Well. This book is hard to review because it is the kind of book that is very easy to spoil. The Guardian review manages it in much better words than I ever could. But I love it. A lot. Many people who don't read YA fiction dismiss the genre as kid-lit (why this is a derogatory term I don't know, but it is often used as such), assuming that because a book is aimed at a younger audience it is aimed at a dumber audience. I have discussed this before, and it just baffles me that people think this because it is so WRONG. This book, which takes place in a dystopian future, takes on big issues—feminist issues, globalization-related issues, postcolonial issues, climate change issues—while using language in a racing, creative way that makes you almost physically incapable of putting the book down. It's funny when it wants to be funny, serious when it needs to be serious, and extremely heartbreaking when it wants you to cry. Go read it, and when you're done go read the second in the series (called Chaos Walking). But don't tell me about it, because I'm only halfway through as of this writing.
This book was so good it inspired me to continue on the dystopian fiction path with The Hunger Games, a little blockbuster series you may have heard of. More to come on that next time. For now, I'm going to go read some more.