Friday, April 5, 2013

What We Are Reading at Our House - YA/Adult Edition

Batting last and playing right field, I present YA/Adult books.

Messy (Spoiled #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Because I just finished this last night, I have to put it first. I am a fan of the Fug Girls and read their website almost daily. I appreciate their wit and I love that they infuse their fashion work with literary references, oftentimes YA from Anne of Green Gables to Sweet Valley High and the Hunger Games. As fans of YA I was so pleased when I learned they were writing their own series. I thoroughly enjoyed their first book, Spoiled (2011) and finally got around to reading last year's equally hilarious sequel, Messy.

For a series that is set in the world of Hollywood extreme fame, celebrity culture, and wealth, the teenage characters are refreshingly well rounded and interesting. Don't let the glossy, teen magazine-like covers turn you off. What's inside is pop culture gold. And laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously, they are comedy team that rivals Pohler/Fey.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
And another book by one of my favorite writers! That I follow online! And Twitter! Okay, and Pinterest! Because she. Is. Terrific.

Sequels are tough acts and this one, while excellent, suffered the usual pitfalls of having to move things along without resolving too much. There are still unanswered questions from the first book and new mysteries. Plus, there's lots of the great Zuzana for much needed comic relief because it is heavy stuff in here: Bodies for Karou to rebuild, lost underground villages, bloody revolution, murder, and that whole chilling Thiago deal. And, of course, the tortured love story of Karou and Akiva. C'mon book #3.

I had a bit of an adult book trend. One with unhappy people in unhappy relationships. Not really fun at all. I only really liked the poetry collection Stag's Leap and its foundation of an ended marriage still wrecked me.

Good Kids by Benjamin Nugent
A friend recommended this 2013 title and it sounded like potential Alex material. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time keeping interested in both the story and the characters. Josh and Khadijah, high school acquaintances and kind of outsiders, witness his dad and her mom kissing in the grocery store. The ramifications from this affair follows them through early adulthood where they reconnect while both engaged to other people. Josh in particular can't move on, although his life as an accidental bassist in a pop/alternative band was a nice surprise.

The other adult 30-something relationship book I read was Zadie Smith's NW. It was ... okay.  I liked some parts but mostly it was another book where I just didn't like the characters as people and so I had difficulty finding their stories worthwhile.

My favorite adult book was Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove. She is a wonder and she is from Florida. I'm so proud.

This is another collection of short stories and I think this is really where Karen Russell shines. The stories all contain an element of the fantastic and she works it all so well. And she is funny in "Dougbert Shackleton's Rules for Antarctic Tailgating", for instance. But she always infuses a layer of the mysterious. Of strangeness on the brink of somewhere. Of odd tastes and unusual sounds you can't quite place but sense their presence. And a little fear. Okay, sometimes a lot of fear. So Deliciously Good.

My favorite story, the one I think about all the time, is "Reeling for the Empire" about teen girls forced/tricked to work in a silk factory. A close second would be "The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis" about bully teenage boys.  Okay, and "Proving Up" about families settling the American West. With a twist. Ack! *shivers*

Hello, Alex Committee, this is for sure one for the list.