Young adult books are more than just a shelf filler…
Over the Christmas break I was determined to read “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. Unfortunately, they are so popular that they are rarer than hens teeth in the library, and my daughter couldn’t find her copy in the swamp that is her teenage bedroom, so I thought I would dip into Young Adult fiction. There are some amazing young adult books available and sometimes they don’t get the recognition they deserve. I managed to read 2 ½ very different books.
The ½ is a quandary. At what point as a reader do we admit defeat and put a book down as unappealing and dull? In the past I would struggle through a difficult book and congratulate myself on my perseverance. Nowadays I look at all my lovely shelves filled with lots of lovely books and worry that I’m not going to get through my list in the time allotted me, therefore, I have no time to waste. So by chapter 6 I had to hang my head and admit defeat. The book in question – “Mole Hunt” by Paul Collins. It looked the part, a YA sci-fi book that reminded me of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books, but by chapter 4 I still didn’t get the characters and I didn’t know if I was supposed to dislike the main protagonist quite so much. By chapter 6 another book had come on my radar and the query of whether I would finish was answered. To be honest I can’t even give you a review on the bit I read because it was so disjointed and dull, in my opinion. Today I went online and checked out the reviews for this book. I really think they must have read another book, or maybe I really did give up too soon!
I think if writers and publishers are going to produce books especially for young adults, they need to get it right. When I was younger I remember reading all the good books in the children’s section of my local library before crossing the mythical line and starting on the adult section; there was no transition book, no gentle nurturing of my literary soul. One day it was Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising”, the next Virginia Andrews’ “Flowers in the Attic”. Bam, thank you for reading.
My next foray was “Beastly” by Alex Flinn. This book interested me because shock, horror, I have watched the DVD. The film is quite faithful to the book, which might have something to do with the fact that Mr Flinn produced it and I feel his good wife probably felt quite happy telling him off if he strayed too much.
The beast had to do a lot of self-analysis of his personality and character and this was well written. I liked the feisty female and supporting characters. They enhanced the read. This was a pretty faithful reproduction of the classic tale set in modern times and was enjoyable for it. In the end of course everyone lives happily ever after but there was enough plot turns to keep you reading even though you know the outcome. This book was probably written for 16 years plus, my next book was obviously for a younger young adult audience.
“The Trap” by Sarah Wray follows a 15-year-old boy to summer camp in America. Luke is a diabetic nerd, I don’t think the two things are connected though! Camp promises to be an adventure and it surely is but probably for all the wrong reasons. This is an easy quick read that has enough plot twists to keep you going. The sting in the tail might blind side some and the obviously written baddies fling up more than one red herring. There is a lot of personal angst and internal dialogue but it works OK. I liked the way the author introduced issues and ideas into the characters like the bullying theme. It was good to see this from the bully’s side for a change. Altogether an interesting read.
Next time you are in the library, check out the Young Adult area. There’s a wide range of books on offer.