If we’ve been strangely silent this month, it’s for a very good reason: Teen Lit Rocks hit up the Book Expo of America for four days, and we were lucky enough to score about four boxes full of ARCs, most of them Young Adult but also some awesome sounding Middle Grade books and a whole bunch of catalogs and business cards, so we can read, review and recommend even more books.
After the Expo, I was contacted by The Atlantic Wire to contribute to their BEA wrap-up about Young Adult books. Read the whole wrap-up, but here’s what I said:
“So many books in the Y.A, space look like they’re going to be big hits, like Libba Bray’s roaring twenties occult mystery Diviners to Donna Cooner’s heartbreaking tale of an obese teen’s struggle through gastric bypass, Skinny.” Chen mentioned Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys [yet another of our nominees for the next Hunger Games] and Colin Fischer, about a teen with Aspergers who solves a school mystery. “The authors happen to be A-list Hollywood screenwriters, so I definitely have high expectations,” she says (moviegoers take note!). As for the crowd at BEA, Chen added that tons of authors promoting their second and third books in a series—this is a big thing we noticed as well, lots and lots of books in a series—were there, like Marie Lu and Ally Condie, and that she “loved meeting the group of debut authors who dub themselves the Apocalypsies, like Gennifer Alpin, Hilary Weisman Graham, Gina Damico, Jess Rothenberg and Zoraida Cordova.”
Here are five of the books I can’t read this summer from my BEA stack:
1. “Skinny” by Donna Cooner: (which I already read and is awesome, and I can’t wait for friends like YA Crush or Grown-Up YA to read). “Skinny” is a “Cinderella” story about a 300-pound high-schooler named Ever Davies, who is definitely NOT the fat and jolly type. Whip-smart and sarcastic and hiding a pitch-perfect voice, Ever is unhappy in her own skin. She goes through her life with a soul-crushing voice named Skinny whispering hateful nothings in her ear. After an embarrassing incident at school, Ever decides to have gastric bypass, but even after surviving the serious surgery, Skinny continues to make her feel like a worthless loser… so much so that even her brilliant best friend Rat can’t convince her to get over her doubts and try out for the school musical. PLEASE read this heartbreakingly beautiful (and funny!) debut novel! (Scholastic; Oct. 12, 2012)
2. “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater: This book comes out on my birthday, which I think obviously means it will be amazing. Actually, it will be amazing, because Maggie wrote it (I plan to read it next week when I’m done with two assignment reads). Set in the Shenandoah Valley (where the author herself grew up), the story follows a “townie” named Blue (Scholastic, Sept. 18, 2012) who was born into a family of psychics but believes she has no powers of her own until she sees the ghost of a beautiful boy in a churchyard, signalling she’s either killed him or loved him (she lived under the weight of a family prophecy that her true love’s kiss will doom him to die). She later sees the boy — Gansey — in town and realizes he’s a “Raven Boy,” one of the impossibly rich boys who attends the all-boys boarding school. He’s looking for the ghost of an ancient Welsh king, and his three school mates are also involved somehow (hence the title). She’s a personal favorite, and if early reviews are any indication, this is going to be AWE to the SOME.
3. “Crewel” by Gennifer Albin: I think I ran into Gen no less than a dozen times at BEA. It happened so often that when I ended up at a luncheon with her and her editor, I finally complained that I hadn’t scored one of the book’s galleys after the YA Buzz Panel or during the limited author signing. But I just found out a copy is on it’s way to me, which means I’ll soon see for myself what all the hype is about — her editor described it as “The Hunger Games” meets “The Handmaid’s Tale.” A dystopian thriller about a girl destined to be a Spinster (the elite group of chaste, sequestered women who control matters of life and death on a loom) but who’d rather not give up everything and everyone to pull the strings of matter and time. “Crewel” has one of those J.K. Rowling-esque origin stories. Gen wrote it in short intervals during a time of great economic hardship in her family only to have it land a lucrative multi-book deal at one of the most prestigious publishers in the world. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Oct. 16, 2012)
4. “The Diviners” by Libba Bray: I have to admit that I thought “Going Bovine” was good but not the all-time-best kind of novel many others (including the Printz committee) considered it. I haven’t read “Beauty Queens” or the Gemma Doyle books, but “The Diviners” sounds pretty awesome. I’m not exactly a rah-rah occult fan, but it’s obvious that Libba did a ton of research (as she always does) to create the story of a girl living in the Manhattan of the Roaring Twenties: seances, speakeasies, 100-year-old slang. And guess what? It ALSO comes out on my birthday. But luckily I don’t have to wait until then to read it! (Little, Brown; Sept. 18, 2012)
5. “Reunited” by Hilary Weisman Graham: I don’t actually have this ARC (the book just came out on Tuesday), but I have a soft spot for roadtrip books, and this one sounds as promising as “In Honor” and “Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.” Road trip novels explore friendship and love in such an intense setting (you can’t get away from people when you’re stuck in a car for 2,000 miles). In “Reunited,” Graham chronicles the story of three former best friends who travel across the country to see the one-and-only reunion concert of the boy band the girls used to adore together in middle school. Fractured friendships meets the nostalgia of good times past and the possibility of repairing old wounds? I’m on it.