Presents by the Page Part 3: YA Reads
If you think you’re done shopping for the teen in your life – or quite frankly, for the adult that’s a fan of Young Adult (YA) fiction – stop. Head down to a bookstore (virtual or otherwise) and pick up one of these hotly anticipated new titles in the world of YA fiction.
There’s never been more exciting and widely-beloved YA books / series than there are right now. Don’t believe me? Feel like you’re too old? Keep in mind that megaseries like Twilight, Harry Potter, and now The Hunger Games, were all originally posited for younger readers. If you want to get ahead of the bandwagon (and inevitable movie adaptations) then start reading these books NOW. Bonus points for the fact the prices are cheaper than adult books!
Note: Once again, I’ve included the full prices of these books. We’re getting closer and closer to the holidays, so you might not have time to do online shopping, and as always, I want you to be as prepared as possible when heading to the tills.
Dystopian worlds are a huge trend in YA fiction right now, and Ally Condie’s ‘Matched’ series is one of the most hotly touted, especially after optioning off the movie rights to Disney. The trilogy, which began with Matched last year, depicts a society where choice is limited by scientific calculations for the greater good – lifespans are guaranteed to 80, romantic relationships are scientifically calculated to last, and meals are properly portioned to suit your daily dietary needs and deficiencies. Everything goes awry for the protagonist Cassia however, when she’s presented with an unexpected, alternative romantic choice after her ‘matching ceremony’. The second book in the series just hit the shelves last month, and follows Cassia as she continues to fight against the increasingly grim realities of The Society with the only weapon she has left – her heart, and her choice on who to love.
Pretty Little Liars is both a smash hit on TV and on the bookshelves – this is author Sara Shepard’s tenth entry into the twisty-turny series since 2006. Obviously you won’t be buying the tenth book for someone unless they’ve devoured the rest of the series, but devour them they will: the story follows four best friends that are bound together by tenuous secrets and an exploitative presence that only goes by A, who constantly threatens to expose them to the public. Whether you’re buying for a fan of the ABC Family TV show (which has veered into its own mythology and secrets) that’s counting the days till it returns or introducing someone to a delicious new slice of YA fiction, you can’t go wrong with this immensely popular series.
Laini Taylor is about as colourful as her quirky protagonist Karou – and not just because they both have wildly coloured hair (Taylor’s is hot pink and dyed, Karou’s is electric blue and grows naturally). No, I imagine if these two actually ever met in real life, they’d get along fabulously – what with Karou’s artistic streak, penchant for mystery, and ability to use language in an enchanting way. This book has got just about everyone fired up – including Indigo, which named it one of the Top 10 Teen Books – this year, and for good reason. The story is quite unlike the others on this list, despite sharing some of the fantastical elements that seem to dominate YA fiction. Present day Prague, where Karou is an art student, feels like a decidedly realistic setting – despite the fact the story focuses on a battle between angels and devils, and Karou’s desperate search to understand her mysterious background.
Talk about a concept that has cross-generational promise: it’s 1996 and Emma has just received her first computer, a gift from her newly remarried father. Her closest (and recently jilted) guy friend Josh comes over with one of those AOL trial discs (ah remember the days?), and when Emma loads it she’s surprised to see a link already in her favourites to a mysterious ‘web page’ called Facebook. On it, someone has created some sort of page about ‘Emma Nelson Jones’, a woman who sort of looks like her…but can’t be her. She’s way older for one thing, and appears to be married. Convinced Josh has created it as a joke, she ropes him in to take a look at this mind-boggling site, but the two of them quickly realize these little snippets of information and photos really are about them: in 2011. Soon they become caught up in trying to manipulate their present to impact their future, Emma – desperate to change her fate, and Josh – not convinced about buying into his, however seemingly perfect, all the while questioning why on earth someone would share their lives all over the internet. It’s a fun throwback for nineties kids and the dawn of the internet at home, but also a hilarious skewering of what exactly we’ve done with the powers of the internet since then. I mean, when you look at it through the lens of the book, you’ll definitely be asking yourself: “Facebook. Really?”
Expect to hear a lot about the little lady behind this series over the next couple of years. Veronica Roth’s dystopian trilogy has already soared up the charts with the spring release of Divergent, the first book in a series about a future-set Chicago where everyone is sorted in an almost Harry Potter-esque fashion to one of five factions that best align with their personal beliefs: selfless Abnegation, truth-obsessed Candor, knowledge-seeking Erudite, peaceful Amity, and fearless Dauntless. When we first meet Beatrice, she’s a member of Abnegation, but her faction selection ceremony leads her to believe she might be best represented with another group. After her selection, she must undergo a fierce initiation, at which point she restyles herself as ‘Tris’. Of course, things aren’t that simple – Tris flirts with the idea of a romance with an impossibly infuriating boy, and most importantly, she has a very dangerous secret she must conceal from everyone, even those closest to her, or risk death in a society that reveals its true colours to be anything but unified.
If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned paranormal romance, the Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick is just the ticket – only instead of vampires, our star-crossed and practically doomed lovers are portrayed by everygirl Nora, and angelic Patch, who are caught in the middle of a war between immortal beings and fallen angels. In this third entry into the series, the romantic relationship for the power couple is solidly cemented – only to be threatened by the biggest, baddest villain yet and a situation that may shatter their love forever.
Kudos to Canadian Vicki Grant for writing a truly hilarious book that’ll make you smile while defying all the tropes that often define this genre. The Betsy Wickwire in question is your prototypical beautiful popular girl who’s sent on a downward shame spiral – complete with working as a house cleaner in a horrible ‘dust bunny’ uniform – losing all of the things said popular gals value most: friends, love, and her coveted social standing. That is, until she meets quirky, larger-than-life outsider Dolores Morris, who befriends Betsy when she needs it most – and teaches her a thing or two about what’s really important at this young age. For real, everywhere I’ve looked and everyone I’ve talked to has had nothing but positive things to say about this genuinely funny, uncanny book that manages to make a rather simple concept feel fresh and fun.
Remember when I said dystopian series were the hot thing in YA fiction? Well if anyone knows that, it’s Cassandra Clare: she of the wildly popular Mortal Instruments series, and now, the fantasy-laden Infernal Devices books. The latter kicked off last year with Clockwork Angel, a story set in the underworld of 19th Century England, with paranormal beings roaming the streets and a group called The Shadowhunters who are dedicated to ridding the world of evil demons. Teenager Tessa arrives in London in hopes of finding her brother, only to find she herself has a very special power – one that allows her to transform into anyone at will. Her power is coveted by just about everyone, leaving Tessa full of self-doubt, paranoia, and fear. The second book picks up where the first one left off, with Tessa becoming more aware of the mounting tension and subsequent war between the Shadowhunters and the mysterious Magister, while becoming even more confused about her feelings for the boys in her life: moody Will and devoted James. Expect things to ramp up even more for the third book in the series, out next year.
For reals, how beautiful is this cover for this debut novel by Tahereh Mafi? Although our cover girl may look angelic, be forewarned: protagonist Juliette is actually burdened with quite the brutal power: her touch is fatal, a la X-Men’s Rogue. Stuffed in a prison cell for accidentally murdering someone, Juliette is well aware the world is quite literally crumbling down around her, despite The Reestablishment’s promises that their way was the only way to fix the rapidly deteriorating planet. Desperate times call for desperate measures naturally, and when The Reestablishment presents Juliette with the option to work with them, she must make a choice: serve as a weapon, or fight back as a warrior – for her freedom, her society, and the boy she feels she may have lost forever.
ZOMG! I’m so overwhelmed with excitement about this post, to be honest. I love me some YA fiction, as you can probably tell – remember, the best of it definitely transcends the age of the protagonists, and that’s definitely the case with all of these wonderful titles. I’ve singled out one particular title to give away, however TWO lucky reader winners will be the ones to win it – Laini Taylor’s ‘Daughter of Smoke & Bone’. To enter for the chance to win 1 of 2 copies:
1) Leave a comment below until January 3rd, 2012 and tell me which of these awesome books you’d most love to read. I know, I know, it’s hard to narrow it down..
2) Entries are limited to one per person per email address (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around January 3rd, 2012 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to residents of Canada that have reached the age of majority in their province / state. Quebec is not eligible to participate in this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry Time: Share this post on Facebook and provide me with a screencap in the comments to score an extra entry!
If you’re looking for full rules & regs, you can always reach me at canadiangiftguide -at- gmail – dot- com. Good luck kids.