Book in Hand: Grendel by John Gardner
Song in Mind: "Somebody once told me the world was gonna blow me cos I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed...."
I do. Unabashedly.
I'm one of those 5'8" tall kiddos you find browsing through the Young Adult (YA) fiction aisles in Powerbooks. I admit I get self-conscious sometimes, bumping unto a 6th grader or so while skimming for titles. Once, a rich-kid midget (you know, those brave, extroverted, English-speaking ones) even asked me if I have some book in stock, clearly mistaking me for a salesperson. I bravely told the boy I'm not a salesgirl, but I would help him find one. He ended up asking me which book I would recommend for a twelve-year-old like him, though I think he isn't one hour above 10.
And there I was hoping I could pass for 19 years old.
After that incident, I decided to let myself out of the closet. So I enjoy YA Lit. So be it. Besides, my height gives me relative advantage over the other customers in the area. I could reach the top shelf, you know, nyah, nyah.
The thing about foreign YA Lit is that, they're supposed to be written for teeners in the US or Europe. But to me, it felt like the issues being discussed were things I became completely aware of at, maybe, age 21. And the words are always direct, and simple. I detest novels that overdescribes and hyperfalute (pollute, if you ask me). I like it when people sound like people, and inferences from the narrator are candid, not assuming. No sweat to read, often entertaining and sometimes, really, sometimes, you stumble upon gems and geniuses.
If you think you might want to give it a try, see if you can get your hands on these books:
1. The Goose Girl / Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
2. Howl's Moving Castle / Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
3. Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn
4. The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
5. 1-800-WhereRU Series by Meg Cabot
6. BlueBloods by Melissa dela Cruz
7. Any book by Patricia mcKillip
8. Any book by Roald Dahl
9. Any book by Robin McKinley
10. Percy Jackson books by Ricky Riordan
11. Kie'shara Series by Ameia Atwater-Rhodes
12. Books by Sarah Dessen
I also want to Highlight the book Forest of HAnds and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I read it recently and it gave me the shivers. Really scary good. Another good novel taking on vampire lore is Evernight by Claudia Gray. Waaaaaay better than Twilight. The twist in the story made my eyes go round in surprise instead of roll with derision.
For the Twilight generation, no, don't expect your beloved Meyer to be on the list above, because she really belongs to the list below.
Books to Steer Clear from (or at least not take seriously):
5. Twilight / New Moon the whole caboodle by Stepehenie Meyer
4. The Immortals by Alyson Noel
3. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
2. Any Gossip Girl / Airhead / All American Girl novelization by Meg Cabot (how can she write good fantasy, but write jibberish for contemporary YA?)
And the new That Sucks Awardee is:
1. Marked / books by PC and whatsherface Cast
Go and try it once in a while. But just don't forego your Murakami, Barnes, Ruiz-Zafon, Ishiguro, Theroux, Roth, and Marquez just yet. You still need those to help your brain cells grow up, you see. :D