Recently I stumbled across an article (one of many out there on the topic) about YA Fiction and why, as an adult I should be embarrassed about reading it. I’m not going to lie, I got rather ranty about it on my Facebook page. Maybe it’s because recently I decided to rewrite the first book I ever wrote, Eastern Gods and Western Wars. I started it when I was about 1 6 and finished by 19. I was a young adult when I wrote it and so I’ve tried to keep that voice but clean it up so it’s readable. I was surprised to find I still love the story and the characters. I also wrote it because YA wasn’t what it is now when I was a teenager (late 90’s, early 00’s) and while I know books out there had to exist in the genre, I couldn’t find them. So I wrote my own.
- I believe in reading whatever the fuck you like whether its YA, literature, fiction or fantasy tenticle porn- I don’t care- as long as you’re reading something it counts, and you shouldn’t listen to any loud mouth who wishes to push their opinions and shame you out on your choices.
- I’ve read some amazing YA in the last year, stuff I desperately wish was around when I was a teen, and so I’m ready to step up and defend the genre.
Instead of Hulking out and picking the article, and that opinion in general, to pieces and peeing on the remains, I’ve decided to meet the negative with a positive and offer up the best YA I’ve read in the last year or so in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. I’ll try and keep it spoiler free but be warned, I’m talking about series’ in whole as well as stand alones.
Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy
‘Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.’
BAM! How’s that for an opening?
Okay, first off is Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. To give you a bit of back ground I hadnt read any YA in a while when I picked this one up. I had looked at the first book on and off until I caved in and bought it and damn, aren’t I glad I did.
This series is about Karou, a beautiful blue haired girl that is raised by creatures from another land, Elsewhere, who deal in teeth and magic. At the beginning of the series she balances art school in Prague and working for Brimstone. Enter a pissed off angel Akiva and Karou’s life gets turned upside down with repressed memories, intense love and bloody action thrown into the mix.
Ancient battles between Angels and Chimaera, other worlds, resurrection magic. Hell, this series has everything I love going for it. It spans across two worlds as Akiva and Karou try to honour their own people, each other, and try and bring about an impossible peace. It’s Romeo and Juliet but in a fresh, unconventional and non-sappy sort of way. If you’re looking for Twilight, this isn’t for you.
The thing I loved the most about this series is the relationships and the chemistry of the characters. Karou is raised as a human and her interactions between her and her human best friend Zuzanna as well as the object of her affection Mik (first date recorded beautiful, hilariously, in short story Night of Cake and Puppets). Their conversations are so real, funny and warm, its no surprise most of the reviews you read comment on them.
The series goes through some big themes and if you are a fan of urban- fairytales/ Pans Labyrinth/ epic fantasy seriously give it a go. It is ‘older’ YA, the flashy genre name New Adult would be appropriate here, with characters out of high school. Laini Taylor is an amazing writer, I was often stunned by the beauty of some of her sentences, perfectly executed. My particular favourite paragraph from Book 1 reads as follows:
“It wasn’t like in the story books. No witches lurked at crossroads disguised as crones, waiting to reward travellers who shared their bread. Genies didn’t burst from lamps, and talking fish didn’t bargain for their lives. In all the world, there was only one place humans could get wishes: Brimstone’s shop.”
Laini sets scenes with a strong voice imbuing magic in around you in a fairy tale of angels and monsters. It’s something I wish I had written because its so damn good. I went though this series one after the other, I couldn’t stop myself. It’s complex story telling, things aren’t magically neatened up and she’s not afraid to pull her characters through some serious shit.
If it sounds like your thing, give it a go, you won’t regret it. Find her here