Too much of a good thing can be an awesome thing. All my favorite YA fantasy-type authors have new books out right now, and a bunch of them have been sitting here ticking away with their non-renewable due date countdowns.
I finished Fire, which I liked even better than Graceling. When I read Graceling, I wasn't sure at first, because the beginning read like it should have started earlier, and there was a lot of backstory crammed in. But once it got underway, holy cow did it do a good job. Fire, I thought, did a good job at all the things Graceling did well, without its flaws. Both books are very character-centered, with very different issues.
In Fire, the main character has the power to control people's minds. She can control this power, but what she can't control is their reaction to her appearance, which causes people to become enraptured, sometimes to the point of violence. It's a terrifying power, one which she watched her father wield with great cruelty, and it has caused her to spend her life trying to stay out of everyone's way. When circumstances change, she has to confront the moral questions that her power raises very directly. All these questions and character explorations are beautifully handled, and no easy answers are presented. I was so thrilled with this book.
Sea Glass, on the other hand, I sent away without reading. This was only in part due to the due date. From the second book of hers that I read (Magic Study), I knew that Maria V. Snyder was not a brilliant writer. What is brilliant at, however, is storytelling. Her books are paced so fast, and her stories told so directly (and in the first person) that it's possible to get all the way through multiple books before you realize she's not the greatest writer. This time, however, I didn't get past page five. I think it was the backstory part--the beginning bit where they fill you in on what you might have forgotten about where last we left our hero/ine. That's always a dangerous time for a book, and this one totally lost me there. I'm sad, but I think I'm going to ask for Poison Study for Christmas, because I liked it so much, so I'll just try to live in the past.
I also have Forest Born, Shannon Hale's new Bayern book, in my bag. That one is ticking away, too, but I haven't started it yet, because I got all caught up in A Company of Liars, which I started ages ago and had to return because it was long and I started late. But it's so good, and I'm enjoying it so much that I'm taking my chances with Shannon Hale. I'm sure I'll finish it in time.
Liars is a medieval road trip novel, and if that doesn't sound uncomfortable, let me just add two words: black plague. It's dreary and creepy, but there's such a good sense of mystery, and the narrator is so likable that I just can't put it down.
So this is where I stand. There are other pots on the fire--not even counting the BOOK that I appear to be WRITING (how freaking weird is that to type?)--and I'll try to keep blogging, if I can keep up my word count on my book. I should give it a working title so we can discuss it properly. Somehow, though, I just can't.