Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I've been reading so many good young adult books lately, most of them recommendation from Jackamo. Here's a rundown of my recent reading activity. (There are warnings about spoilers below.)

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins: I mentioned these in an earlier post, but I enjoyed them increasingly more as I read through the series. I was deeply touched by several of the characters. This is a youth series with excitement and depth, but also a lot of death and sadness.


I really loved the ending. Whereas the events of the series come to a rewarding conclusion, it isn't all tied up perfectly and as a result feels like an honest coming-of-age story for Gregor, who is a preteen on the cusp of adulthood with more experience, courage, and wisdom than most grownups. It's melancholy, but how could it not be after all he's been through? The final detail of his toddler sister Boots finally saying his name properly closes on a hopeful note. The more I mull over the ending, the more I appreciate it.


The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: This is rather pulpy but well-written fantasy series for teens. SWS tells me Clare has been accused of plagiarizing everyone from JK Rowling to Joss Whedon to Twilight, but I don't see any more shared ideas in this than I do in most of the other recent fantasy fiction I've read. Even if she borrows many ideas from other authors, she creates her own super fun story. Clare has another series coming out soon--prequels to TMI, and I'll certainly be checking them out.


The conclusion of this series wasn't as strong. Jackamo pointed out to me that it was written for teens (and Clare seems especially to have teen girls in mind), as the characters had some silly doubts about love, paired up tidily, and attended something akin to a ball at the end. My biggest criticism: I felt there were a lot of ideas here that could be mined for religious significance, as there is a Jewish boy turns vampire and an agnostic girl who not only discovers she has angel blood but sees an angel. These characters never seem to experience the spiritual questioning common to many adolescents, and they have greater impetus to do so! So that is a lost opportunity. The ideas needn't be "churchy" in nature, but it would have added depth to the characters to make them a bit more philosophical.


Princess Academy by Shannon Hale: With a cheesy name like this, I had expectations for something girlie and saccharine, but Princess Academy is a lovely surprise. It's a Newbury Honor Book focusing more on the value of hard work, ingenuity, and devotion than dressing up in gowns or living in a castle. If I had a young daughter, I'd strongly recommend it to her. It had a satisfying and not totally predictable ending, but I won't post a spoiler about it.


Jackamo said...

Go me for recommending all those good reads.

Jenny said...

I agree with the Princess Academy - cheesy title but good book.

What's up with you guys loving the death novels? I must be a wuss; too creepy for me.