Have I gone off young adult literature?

The number of young adult books I’ve read in the past few months and not enjoyed has been disturbing me. I used to love YA because of its complexity and depth, and because I didn’t get to read quality YA when I was a teen. Does my new attitude reflect a change in me?

I think it does. I think I finally dealt with the issues that were leftover from my teen years. I no longer struggle with that feeling of being different, not belonging, and I don’t need YA books to show me that I have something of value in me even if I don’t fit in.

My own issues were not the only reason that I loved YA though, so I’ll continue reading for the great stories. Maybe I’ll just skip the most angst-y ones.

Here are some YA books that I read recently:

imageJenny Pox by JL Bryan
This is the story of Jenny, a girl who can’t touch any living thing because she gives them pox, which eventually kills. She goes to a regular high school and is shunned by her peers, even though her power is a secret. Then she meets a boy who is her opposite and things start to make sense to her.
I was attracted to this story and the more I read the more I loved where it was going. Except for one scene at the end, which I thought was too much. It was creative and interesting and I like the ending that linked the story to the sequel. But I didn’t connect with Jenny like I wanted to, I wasn’t drawn to her issues.

imageLooking for Alaska by John Green
This is about three friends in a boarding school, as they try to figure out who they are and what’s important. I’ve seen loads of rave reviews of this, and maybe that’s why I was slightly disappointed. I understood the whole fascination with the most beautiful girl in the world, and I agree that books like this one, that include young people coping with tragedy, have to be written. I liked the characters, they were genuine, even the beautiful girl was flawed. I loved that the main character’s hobby was collecting last words. That was great. But I wasn’t as bowled over by my first John Green as I wanted to be.

imageWanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
A teen girl goes through a painful break-up and takes off to travel around South America. She ends up backpacking, makes unexpected friends, and finds love where she was sure none existed. A simple story with a simple message.



imageEvery Day by David Levithan

I loved the concept in this one, about a boy who doesn’t have a body, but instead wakes up in a different one each day. The story was fresh. I loved some of the different issues it explored, like can you still love a person even if he completely changed physically. How much does the physical matter? Can we get past it to really see the person that’s inside?

imageHex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Sophie lets her magical powers get out of control and is sent off to Hex Hall, a boarding school for witches, fairies and shapeshifters. Soon she makes friends with the girl everyone suspects of murder and enemies of pretty much everyone else. I enjoyed this one, because I love the idea of a school like that. Just like I enjoyed the Gallagher Girl series, so much fun.


Catching up, with mini-reviews

I’m doing so well with reading so far this year! My goal is 5 books a month and I’ve read 19 already. Yay me!

Some of these books weren’t for me and some were great but I only have about a paragraph to say about them anyway. Mini-reviews are the way to go!

reliableA Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
A good friend of mine loved this book and gave it to me, but I just couldn’t get through it. I managed 50 pages and then had to give up, as I noticed that things like polishing shoes were higher on my to-do list than reading was. The story is about a man who advertises  in a newspaper to find a wife but gets more than he bargained for. And since he has some dark secrets himself, he is not what the woman expects either. Interesting  enough, but I thought the characters were completely wooden and two-dimensional, and I didn’t care what happened to them at all, not one bit. Disapponting.

hiddenThe Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene 
This is the second book in the Nancy Drew series, which I loved as a child. I still find it charming, if dated. I actually find it surprising that 16-year-old Nancy isn’t discouraged from solving mysteries, it wasn’t exactly a common pastime in her time, the 1930s. Maybe that was part of the point, to show women in a different light. I was interested to learn that the character of Nancy was created in the 1930s, but that 175 volumes of her adventures have been published between then and 2003. The Nancy Drew books are ghostwritten under the collective pen name of Carolyn Keene. I never knew that!

deadDead in the Family by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #10)
I think I’m losing interest in this series… I’ll finish it because I’m so close to the end, but I’m not finding it as riveting as I did at the beginning. I didn’t care much for Sookie in this book, nor for the others. Is it just me? I can’t quite put my finger on why I’ve lost interest, maybe it’s because I don’t find her actions believable anymore. Not that her world is realistic but still, I could see why she did the things she did at the start of the series. I don’t really see why she doesn’t ditch the whole scene. I know this is vague, but I’m trying to avoid spoilers. 🙂

codeCode Orange by Caroline B. Cooney
I remember seeing loads of bloggers loving this book but I really don’t know why. Maybe I remembered wrong and there was something that sounded like this title. The story was ok, of a boy writing a school paper on infectious diseases of the past and accidentally possibly getting infected with smallpox. But the boy sounded about 12 in his maturity and it turned out he was 16 or something. And he was the laziest kid I’ve ever seen and he just pi**ed me off all the time. The only worthwhile thing about the book (for me) was the historical information about smallpox. I didn’t know that every animal has pox and that the smallpox vaccine is made of the cow pox virus. But it does make  me wonder why we allowed chicken pox to hang around. Is it because the vaccine was only invented recently or something?

Time for more mini-reviews!

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
I am really enjoying this series about an all girls’ school for future spies. It’s a great idea, it has some really strong female characters and I like the slightly sarcastic writing. In the fifth book, Cammie wakes up in an Alpine convent and can’t remember how she got there, but she knows that it has something to do with the Circle of Cavan, an ancient terrorist organisation. But not everyone wants Cammie to remember what happened that summer and… well, I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out! Has anyone read Ally Carter’s other series, Heist Society? That one has a really cool premise too!

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
It saddens me that I coudn’t even get myself to finish this book, when I’d been looking forward to it for so very long. The story idea is brilliant : “Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can “read” fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service” (description from Goodreads). I got as far as them being abducted, but I just didn’t care what happened to them next… Maybe the I should try the movie instead?

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Fantastic book about a cloned boy in a disturbing version of our future. Matteo is a clone of El Patron, leader of a country called Opium. He grows up on El Patron’s vast estate as the old man’s favorite, but hated by everyone else. Slowly, he starts to understand what El Patron is really capable of and what his own fate is meant to be. Can he escape the life he was given? And how different from everyone else is he really? This story is a softer version of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, but just as horrifying. Can we really be heading for a future like the ones in these books?