I'm always a little leary of pre-publication buzz.
How can ANY book possibly live up to all that hype? You know what I mean, right? Those ultra-hot new YA books that popular authors blurb themselves into a frenzy over. Which makes all of us poor readers drool and slobber all over ourselves and say Must. Read. That. Book.
Case in point (actually we're gonna go with four cases in point) -- I've recently read:
CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare (a prequel to The Mortal Instruments series), coming August 31st from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon and Schuster, for ages 14 and up. Set in Victorian London, this is the story of Tessa, an American who comes to London to find her brother and quickly discovers she has a special power. Not for the squeamish. This one has lots of blood and gore and excitement.
Plain Kate, by Erin Bow, pubbing September 1st from Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, for ages 12 and up. After being orphaned and cast out of her community (she's suspected of causing the sickness that blankets the countryside), Plain Kate joins the Roamers, because she has nowhere else to go. I could totally see this as a movie, with Johnny Depp as the albino magician, Linay. He could wear the same make-up he wore in "Alice in Wonderland."
MATCHED by Ally Condie, coming November 30th from Dutton, for ages 12 and up. Set in a futuristic world in which everything is perfect, every decision is made by the Community, including whom one will marry. Cassia has always looked forward to her Matching. But when she's matched up with a friend she's known forever, and then a glitch occurs and another face appears briefly on the screen, she begins to wonder what her future holds.
YOU by Charles Benoit, pubbing August 24th from HarperTeen, for ages 12 and up.
There is no way to describe this without giving too much away. Except that it's written in the 2nd person. As you read this modern high school slacker tale, you become Kyle Chase. Yes, you are that involved in his life. Heartbreaking and sure to be talked about for years to come.
Do they live up to all those expectations? Hell yes. I'm happy to report that they're all excellent reads.
I'm going out on a limb here and posting a minor complaint (which I never ever do), but I think the writing itself could have been stronger in two of them.
(No, I'm not saying which ones.)
Hmm. Let's just say the dreaded phrase "too many adverbs" crossed my mind in one case. And "derivative" in another. Despite that, I HAD to turn pages as fast as I could to find out what happens. Now that's good writing, despite the lack of editing. Apparently if you have a great hook, likable characters and an edge-of-your-seat plot, you can get away with a little bad writing.
Which is an eye-opening revelation as I struggle to finish the crappy rough draft of my first novel.
Which book is my favorite? They're all so different I don't have a favorite. PLAIN KATE is definitely the most literary (read: most likely to still be around in 100 years). But YOU was the one I simply could not put down. The one that made me sit back and say, "Wow." Stunned is too pale a word for how I felt about this book. I was blown away.
Want a good read? Take your pick.