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Archive for May 2017

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I’ve been in a lot of places and read a lot of things lately but to try and get back in the swing of writing blog posts I’m just going to blat on about YA books I’ve loved lately, and YA books I’m excited about. There’s no need to recap my rant about why adults reading YA books is totally effing normal and doesn’t make us emotionally or intellectually stunted, right? Right! Besides, what with the impending apocalypse and all, we may as well just read as our hearts tell us to, and leave joyless, worthy reading for the afterlife.

  • Obviously anyone with even the most tangential interest in YA lit and who is not a complete asshole will have already read Angie Thomas‘s The Hate U Give, but in case you have been in a coma for the last several months or possibly held captive by militants, allow me to urge you to READ THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. I first heard about it when Leigh Bardugo reblogged this tumblr post, which accurately points out the lie that is often peddled by the publishing industry that there just isn’t a market for literature by minority voices. Plenty of people more eloquent than me have pointed out what makes The Hate U Give so incredible, but I will say that for me, the most intense and transformative part of the reading experience was that the book made no concessions to my whiteness. It’s a book by a black woman, steeped in black (American) cultural references, about what is, tragically, an essentially black experience, and there’s no attempt to soften or tone anything down for a casual white reader. It’s telling of how pervasive whiteness is in the dominant cultural narrative that I can’t actually remember if I’ve ever experienced that in a book before – certainly not in YA. 12/10, would recommend x 100000.
  • Laini Taylor‘s new book, Strange the Dreamer, could hardly have been more different, but it was another book that grabbed me by the heart lately. I read Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone books in a big breathless gulp in late 2014, while driving through Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and finally on a random layover in Sharjah, and I adored the books for what they were but also, and perhaps more so, for the utter delight in the world that Taylor infuses throughout them. Strange the Dreamer is more otherwordly in scope, not even touching on our world, but Taylor has crafted something truly exquisite in her worldbuilding, notwithstanding its brutality. Cannot wait for the next in the series.

And now for some YA books that I am eagerly anticipating:

  • VE Schwab‘s Our Dark Duet is out in a couple of weeks! It’s the sequel to This Savage Song which I bought on a whim and read in Entebbe last year. Sadly I think this is the second and last in the series but Schwab is astoundingly prolific and will probably have ten more books out by Christmas. IF THERE IS A CHRISTMAS, see: apocalypse, see: covfefe.
  • Maggie’s Stiefvater‘s All the Crooked Saints is out in October! (In the US, anyway; not sure about the UK.) There is an excerpt here and it makes me happy.

In unrelated conclusion, here is a very pleasing photo of me from a couple of weeks ago, after I arrived at Conoco airstrip and was driving into Garowe the morning after it had rained heavily for the first time in years, thus alleviating the drought. There were great shallow lakes by the side of the road and when he saw me taking photos my driver Abdifatah insisted we get out so he could take a photo of me in front of one of them. Full disclosure: said photos were so grotesquely unflattering that I deleted them instantly, but this delighted selfie of Abdifatah with me in the background makes me smile. (Shortly afterwards we drove through two feet of water flowing with alarming speed from one side of the road to the other, and although we made it safely to the other side, I had to use a different car for the rest of the trip because the electricity fused.)

Written by Jess

May 31, 2017 at 5:50 pm

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