I read a lot of young adult fiction in 2012. This was new for me. Nancy Kress was new to me too, although not remotely new to pretty much everyone else. Her newest novel, Flash Point, is the story of Amy, a teenage reality television star in a not-quite dystopia. Beneath the poverty line, with no means of supporting her sick grandmother and younger sister, Amy has no choice but to put it all on the line on national television.
While the world awaits the flash point that could lead it into economic and sociological ruin, or turn the corner into a new age of prosperity, Amy’s show Who Knows People, Baby — You? catches attention. Seemingly a souped up version of John Quinones’ ABC show What Would You Do? it forces teenagers from different levels of society into uncomfortable and often dangerous situations to elicit a response.… Read the rest
How much of a novel’s success or failure is predicated on its voice? I would argue there’s a compelling case to be made that it’s a primary one. The problem is that voice is an extremely subjective measurement defined in semantics. I ask the question because Cassandra Rose Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse is written in a voice that I couldn’t stand. Unfortunately, it’s not the only thing about the novel I didn’t like.
Assassin’s Curse is the story of Ananna, a teenager daughter of a pirate captain who runs from marriage with an allied clan. She wants what every pirate wants — her own ship. Her escape, while easy, has an unfortunate side effect when her scorned fiance’s father sends an assassin after her. In the process of being assassinated, Ananna triggers a curse that binds her to Naji, her former assassin and now begrudging protector.
Thus, the story is centered around breaking that curse, freeing Ananna to resume her pursuit of her own ship and Naji to continue being an assassin for hire.… Read the rest
Tom Pollock writes beautiful prose. It’s the first thing I noticed about his debut novel, The City’s Son. So good in fact, that it buoys a straight forward young adult urban fantasy to new heights. It’s a rare novel of that ilk that’s able to hook me enough to give it a full run. I was pleased that not only did it engage me enough to finish the novel, but I found myself coming back to it time and again despite finding the plot just short of boring.
I admit that last sentence is about the biggest back handed compliment I’ve ever given someone. Guilty as charged, however, it’s not that simple. Allow me to explain.
Beth is a trouble maker, daughter of a Hackney widower with a penchant for artistic tagging, and she’s pulling her best friend Pen Khan down with her. After a rough encounter with corrupt school administrators, Beth runs away from her endlessly grieving father.… Read the rest