Here’s what I read this month
- 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma: This sat on my TBR waaaaay too long. When I picked it up, I raced through it. I was totally with Lauren as she got sucked into each new missing person’s case she encountered. There is some great writing here, and Suma doesn’t hold her punches when writing about all the things it means to be a girl in a world where girls disappear every day. Suma both respects and understands her teenaged audience/characters, and the result is really raw, really powerful writing that weaves together reality and magic beautifully. I’m not usually a fan of twist endings, but here it felt inevitable, in large part to Suma’s deftly controlled storytelling. This’ll be one I recommend to adults who are uncertain about dipping into YA, and to advanced teen readers who think YA is “beneath” them (aka me from ages 15-17).
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury: I read this for a Coursera class on Sci-Fi and Fantasy (which I highly recommend, fellow lapsed academics and autodidacts!). I was a bit thrown by the reading experience, because a) I was expecting a novel, and this is really a collection of stories, and b) this is much more fantasy than it is sci-fi, despite the space setting. One thing that alway stops me from really being able to get into Bradbury is the way he writes women. I mean, I get it, it was a different time and blah blah blah, but life is too short to keep reading stories set in a future where women are still only allowed to be frustrating housewives or punchlines because they’re ugly. Bradbury ends up doing what the earthmen do on Mars in these stories; he replicates the same tired tropes of his own place and time in a new setting. And life is just too short, man. No matter how beautifully turned the phrases are.
- Just One Year by Gayle Forman: I have to admit: I liked Willem’s story a lot more than Allyson’s. There was more momentum to get caught up in as he travelled the world, looking for Allyson/running from his problems. It just felt like there was more at stake for him than there was for Allyson in Just One Day. How much I enjoy the series as a whole is really going to depend on who’s POV emerges as the strongest in Just One Night, the final novella.
- Black Lake by Johanna Lane: I picked this up after Amanda Nelson wrote about it on Book Riot. I’d been reading (and abandoning) a lot of plot-heavy work recently, and this novel was the perfect antidote to that. It begins with the end and then backtracks, using multiple POVs to explore a few difficult months for an Irish family as they give up control of their Downton-style estate house. (Yeah, I know, my North America is showing). It was nice to just luxuriate in language and atmosphere a little while, instead of always trying to guess what was going to happen next. A great read to bring me into Fall.
I’m still working my way through a couple of other books, like The Boss, Pointe, and All My Puny Sorrows. I’m starting the third (!) draft of my novel soon, so I’ll probably be reading to remedy my weaknesses in the Fall.
What about you? What’s the best thing you read last month?
Jane Espenson (from interview with Advocate.com)\
I dunno how many which ways this needs to be said
from Black Lake by Johanna Lane
This book was lovely and devastating, a real slow burn.
Summer can be over. I’m ready for more atmospheric books about damp places and chilly people, please.
— Corey Ann Haydu talks about the relationships narratives — the good and the bad — presented in YA fiction for girls. (via catagator)
I’m getting really close to the end of this second draft. I threw out the original ending (good riddance) and only have the last few chapters to write from scratch. They’re all outlined and ready for me. If whatever is happening with my eye right now doesn’t get worse, I should be able to finish by the end of the week. For the first time with this project, I’m not even looking forward to the “put it in a drawer and forget about it” stage. I am not distracted by any new shiny ideas. I just want to go back to page one and start making the changes that have come to mind over the last month and a half of (re)writing.
My book might not actually suck, you guys.
Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma
Something I need to keep in mind as I finish off a current draft of a YA mystery.
(and definitely a question to add to the list for my beta readers: Could any of the investigation have been replaced with an online activity?)