I love YA fiction, and I have been reading it a lot lately as a break to most of the heavier reading I have for school. I usually love to read memoirs, nonfiction, that sort of thing, but just can’t seem to deal with the genre after a long day of class. But, when I sit down to review YA books, I just don’t quite know what to say about them. I read them to escape, to imagine a life where problems don’t seem as daunting, to let things go for awhile. So, rather than trying to write long reviews, I decided to just do three brief reviews of the YA books I’ve read in the last couple months.
The View from Saturday
The View From Saturday by E.L Konigsburg is story about four sixth-grade students and their teacher, and their quest to win the state-wide academic bowl. Noah Gershom, Nadia Diamondstein, Ethan Potter, and Julian Singh form their team, “The Souls,” sort of by chance. They don’t have much in common, but connect with each other over tea and puzzles over the course of a few weeks. They also have surprising connections to each other based on their families and backgrounds. One thing I love about this book is the narration style. Many chapters are told by an omniscient narrator, but we also get to read at least one chapter narrated by each of the students. In these chapters, the student relates a story about how they came to know the answer to the questions that have. The book is really about coming together, forming a team, and finding companions that embrace you as you are. It’s quick, but a satisfying read. It’s also a book I wish had a sequel — I’ve always wanted to know what happened next.
Alanna: The First Adventure
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce is part of the Song of the Lioness series. This series was one of my favorites as a kid, so it seemed like good YA to come back to for a break. Alanna of Trebond and her twin brother Thom are about to be separated — Alanna being sent to a convent to learn to be a lady, and Thom to the king’s palace to learn to be a knight. Alanna has the plan to switch places so she can go become a knight instead. Disguised as a boy, the first book in the series follows her experiences as a page. Alanna is just coming into womanhood, so I remember relating to her struggles with her body and how to compete with people when you’re not as big or strong as they are. But, Alanna triumphs (you knew she had to), and makes some friends along the way. Tamora Pierce is a really wonderful author who makes you want to keep turning the page. This book ends in such a way that you just have to read the next ones — I love books like that.
I borrowed Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar from the public library because I’ve been watching the series on The CW and wanted to know if the books were any better. I dunno, the book was ok, but it wasn’t anything I really felt connected too. I find the series really engaging, probably because Blake Lively is just so great, but I didn’t get that into the book. Sure, I sat down and read it in just a couple of days, but I think that’s just because it was so easy. I don’t think the book was bad, necessarily, but the drama just didn’t hold my interest. I put in a request for the second book, You Know You Love Me, just to see if I like it better on a second glance, but I’m not really holding my breath. I think I can find escapist literature that I like a little bit better.
What kinds of books do you read for escapist reading? How do you review YA books? Any suggestions for other book YA and/or escapist reading?