Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cheating on My Homework

That subject line is a tease--I'm not copying from anyone's paper, I'm committing infidelity to the syllabus reading list. I couldn't help it; a couple of very thrilling reserves came in and I just couldn't resist. I just can't be trusted--I'm promiscuous when it comes to books.

I finally read Rebel Angels, by Libba Bray. It's the third time I've checked it out of the library, but I could never see squeezing in the 550 pages, and never got off the ground. It doesn't help that I can't really remember much of what happened in the first book (A Great and Terrible Beauty), though I remember liking it a lot. This one was very good, too--I'm a sucker for a British girls' boarding school book, and when you add the fantasy part, well, I'm in. It's one of those books that's about the sort of meandering journey that you're on--there are a lot of dead ends and switchbacks, but the end was very satisfying. I'm not going to run out and get the next one, but I'm definitely going to read it.

Poison Study, by Maria Snyder, is the other one I'm cheating with. As soon as I heard of this book--and I don't even remember where--I really wanted to read it, and I wasn't wrong. It's fantasy, as well, and much plottier than Rebel Angels. Everything moves along quickly, and there's a lot of fun worldbuilding--though the political situation is a little heavy-handed. It's almost amusing how clear the parallels are to, say, the communist bureaucracy that took over after the abusive indulgence of a corrupt monarchy. For example. But the character is cool, and I can't quite figure out who she should trust, which is fun--it's nice to be reading a YA fantasy novel and not to be even one step ahead of the main character.

And finally, finally, I'm waiting eagerly for the Minuteman system to bring me The Dead and the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, sequel to Life as We Knew It. The latter was a truly excellent YA end of the world book, and I'm really excited that the sequel came out--early! before its anticipated pub date! kudos to the editorial and production staff over there!--and that it's winging its way to me!

I'll have things to say about Homeboyz (bleck) and Death Note (thumbs up), but for now, I'm taking a mini-vacation into sweet summer reading indulgence.


Linda Braun said...

Here's a question for you on your cheating - how do you think the books you read "off-list" compare to what you are reading for class? Do you see similarities and differences in teen audience? Readability? Etc?

LibraryHungry said...

That's easy--they're actually a lot of YA fantasy novels. I think they're pretty popular (The Dead and the Gone and and the latest sequel to Poison Study both have waiting lists at the library), and I can see a lot of the themes we're talking about. Poison study has strong themes of empowerment (learning to fight back and stand up for yourself) and identity (shaking habits of running away and becoming someone who stands up for yourself). The Dead and the Gone I haven't read yet, but the book that came before it, Life as We Knew It, was about family and support, and becoming an adult through hardship.

I can see the same themes; I'm glad we're reading Neverwhere to dip into fantasy, since a lot of young adults read it, and a lot of people who don't read it for fun are intimidated by it. It can be a different reading experience; I've been in a lot of book club groups with people who were wrestling with it for the first time.