YA for Adults

Young Adult fiction isn’t for teens anymore. With the growing popularity and frequency of harrowing, real and important YA novels being published, this genre has never been more flexible. Books like Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys and Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi are evidence of this fact. BuzzFeed (an addicting guilty please, sorry about it) just featured an article written by Epic Reads about this phenomenon. Click here to go to the article.

Here are some of the books from the article!

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I’ve read a few of these, like The Fault in Our StarsShip Breaker and The Diviners. You probably already know I loved TFIOS, but I also really liked Ship Breaker and The Diviners is definitely one of the best books I’ve read all year. You should check all of these out!

Side note, Epic Reads is a pretty cool group, if you’re into the YA genre at all, you should check out their website (they also have a dope Instagram).

 

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

From Goodreads:

When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, 11733187she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.

Rating: 8 out of 10

First Impressions: Fantastical twist on historical (yes, a version of the estate featured in this novel did exist; see author’s note) fiction. Read it if you want a suspenseful, not overwhelming romantic story of an ordinary teenaged girl in the 1800s, living among extraordinary circumstances and people.

Review: The Dark Unwinding sat on my shelf for a whole year while other, more anticipated novels filled my days. That is until about a week ago, when I found my copy wedged between two textbooks from my fall semester of sophomore year.

Katharine Tulman is the unwanted niece of Alice Tulman, a bothersome old woman set on making Katharine’s life a nightmare. She sends Katharine on a mission to Stranwyne Keep, an estate run by her suspected insane uncle where he has apparently depleted the family fortune. Katharine must confirm her uncle’s lunacy so that the rest of the fortune can be salvaged and preserved for her fat cousin.

When she first arrives to the estate, she is met with scorn and hate, for doing as her aunt wishes will ruin the lives of the thousands of men, woman and children that her uncle has employed. But eventually, she gets to know and understand her uncle, and begins to forge relationship with the peculiar cast of characters charges with the care of her uncle and his estate.

Met with sudden twists, the right amount of suspense and romance, and a nice dose of familial companionship, The Dark Unwinding is sure to be a hit with fans of the young adult genre. It has everything a good book should.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few bumps in the road.

I struggled through the first 150 pages or so. It’s set in the 19th century, so Cameron used older, more elaborate language, which I found to be overdone and just struck me as trying too hard. Like, the language definitely needed to be historically accurate, but to a certain degree. I think she took it a bit too far, and it almost made it less believable. To top it all off, none of the pieces started coming together or making sense until the 200 page mark, so it was kind of hard to get really into it.

It took me ten days to finish this book (10!), which is a lot compared to the last book I reviewed (Shadow and Bone) which only took two to finish. That being said, when you get to a certain point, you just can’t put it down.

Bottom line, this is a story about one girl trying to overcome her position in the world, and learning that, sometimes, overcoming your position means forgetting about your own problems and using your assets to help someone who can’t help himself. It’s about learning to be selfless, dealing with guilt, falling in love and sacrifice. Definitely a keeper.

PLUS, there is a sequel in the works! Always fun.

 

I’ll just leave this here.

Inspirational quote!

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Also: Great article on the Guardian website about why teens love dystopian fiction so much. Check it out. Here’s a sampling…

“They offer young readers the chance to think about what kind of world they would create for themselves if they could forge everything again… Breaking and making is at the heart of a great many stories; the devastation of the old highlights the importance of the new when it is rediscovered or reinvented…  It’s not a new fictional phenomenon.” – 

Again!

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Sorry about it.

 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

From Goodreads:

Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only10194157 one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.

Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two.

Rating: 8 out of 10

First Impressions: Another dystopian-esque fantasy drama. You should read it if you like the Graceling series, the Seraphina series, and the like.

Favorite Quote: “Well, if it gets too bad, give me a signal, and I’ll get up on the banquet table, toss my skirt over my head, and do a little dance. That way no one will be looking at you.”

What part of yourself would you sacrifice to truly belong?

That is the question that heroine Alina Starkov must answer in Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone.

Admittedly, I was reluctant to read this book. I had just finished Divergent by Veronica Roth, which is so incomprehensibly good that the prospect of Shadow and Bone as a follow-up sort of depressed me. I thought it was going to be just another cheesy fantasy by an author who tried too hard, when she really shouldn’t have. You all know the kind of book I’m talking about?

Shadow and Bone was not that book. It was an incredibly original take on the classic medieval fantasy shceme. For one, instead of hinting at European themes, Bardugo chose to research Russia. She looked at Russian power systems and military and language to create a uniquely Grisha world. I found the Russian aspects intriguing, though I know some people find them ill-researched and a bit mediocre.

When Alina discovers that she is a Grisha, or a person with extraordinary powers, the Darkling (the most powerful Grisha) whisks her away from her ordinary life as a cartographer in the army and he whisks her away from the only family she has ever known, her best friend Mal, who, consequently, she is in love with.

As Alina acclimates to her new life as a Grisha, she finds herself struggling to fully realize her powers and to loosen her grip on Mal and the life she left behind. But the Darkling’s charms disintegrate her insecurities and she lets her guard down, perhaps a bit too willingly.

What I like most about this book is Bardugo’s literal interpretation of the exhausted light versus dark metaphor. For instance, Alina is a Sun Summoner, which is as it sounds. She has the power to exude sunlight and warmth, whereas the Darkling can create devouring darkness. Alina has to face both him and the Shadow Fold, which is a vast expanse of complete darkness that destroys any living thing within its grasp. It is also the Darkling’s creation. By making light and dark actual, fathomable players in this story, Bardugo creates an adventure that stands alone among modern YA titles.

This is a book about an underdog, born into impossible consequences who is given the opportunity to rise above them. It is brimming with action and magic, friendship and romance. And while I like this book very much (I finished it in just under two days), there was something about it that stopped me from getting too emotionally attached. Like, when I finished Graceling and The Hunger Games, etc. I cried for like 3 weeks each, which is ridiculous, but also speaks to the emotional depth of each novel. I’m not going to have that hard a time moving on from Shadow and Bone. That said, it was still a great book that I highly recommend (and sometimes, it can be a relief to not mind the end of a book so much).

BONUS! It’s being adapted into a movie! Keep your eyes peeled.