23 May 2010

YA Ramblings / Tamora Pierce Makes a Long Awaited Appearance on the Blog

In thinking about my reading of late, nothing REALLY stands out as being review worthy. I mean, I read the latest Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey, which was amazing, brilliant, dyslit-y, witty, literary... but seriously, that is all I really need to say. Its Jasper Fforde. Go read it okay?
I have however, read a LOT of mediocre stuff. You want to know which YA sensation of the moment NOT to pick up, then I am your girl. For example, take Need by Carrie Jones. Touted as "better than Twilight" and the next big thing in paranormal teen romance. Aside from the fact that I've been told that about every single teen book published since Twilight began, it is just not true. Twilight is essentially a Mills and Boon for teenagers, but at least Meyer throws herself into the story completely. This latest one felt like it was just going through the motions. New girl in town, finds herself oddly drawn to the tall, dark, sexy guy who keeps showing up to save her in the nick of time, finds out she is being followed by a pixie, and that tall, dark, sexy man is actually (SPOILER) a werewolf. Token amount of surprise at revelation that supernatural stuff is all out there, scepticism quickly overcome for the sake of progressing the plot, some kind of supernatural (but also emotional!) conflict followed by triumph of good guys and movie perfect kiss. Yawn.

And you know what? I just know there are people out there who are saying "Well of course you yawn! Look at what you picked up! What were you expecting?!!!" I say the same thing to myself, but continue to wade through this rubbish for two reasons. Number one, it is my job. Making sure none of the YA readers out there get any books with "issues" their parents wouldn't want them reading about. (For those who don't speak book-seller, "issues" is code for sex, drinking, drugs, swearing, violence... in the rather conservative area in which my bookshop is situated, none of the parents want their innocent darlings reading anything controversial. Customer picks up a book "What content is in this book? My daughter is ten but has reading age of a sixteen year old, but I don't want anything inappropriate." You get the idea. It is farcical at times.) (That was the longest bracket ever). So that is one reason. (In case you are wondering, Need has a bit of kissing, but not much else).

Reason two is a bit closer to my heart. It involves an author who had a profound effect on me during my formative years. Tamora Pierce. Just thinking about her (millions) of books makes me smile. Between the ages of eleven and fourteen I pretty much read Tamora Pierce. Over and over. And over. You get the idea. I think I could probably recite my favourite passages. My constant re-reading of her books is due in quite a large part to her heroines. They were always described as head strong and stubborn, they were witty, smart, and you can bet they didn't let any man tell them what to do! Admittedly, they had it a bit tougher going against men since they were stuck back in the middle ages, and I was in the 21st Century. Whatever, I identified with these girls! These books made me (a bookish, indoorsy, nature disliking, pacifist with animal allergies) long to be a knight (wilderness survival and fighting skills a must). They were real, 3D characters who made you want to be their friend. Can you imagine anyone in their right mind wanting to be friends with Bella Swan? You would get to hear her complain a lot, and watch as she lives through what has got to be the most unhealthy relationship in the world. Sweetie, if he is pulling bits out of your car engine because he doesn't want you going to see a friend he doesn't like, maybe he is just a tad controlling.

I read mediocre YA book after mediocre YA book because of hope. (Hmm, that sounded less cheesy in my head). I am hoping that one day I will pick up a new book and I will have found a book that will become just as special to some twelve year old girl out there as Tamora Pierce was (IS, who am I kidding? I still get excited when a new one comes out. Write faster Tammy!) to me. And when I find it, I know the protagonist is not going to have the personality of a dish-cloth (I'm looking at you Bella!) and something tells me it probably won't involve vampires. Just a hunch.
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