Smart and book-savvy Stephanie Su of Steph Su Reads is one of the people who make me really, really want to move to NYC because of the cool people there - I was lucky to meet her in person at the blogger-created Teen Author Carnival.
I have a lot of admiration for Steph, so it made me ridiculously happy when she loved Tell Me a Secret.
Welcome to What YA Bloggers Want, Steph!
It's hard for me to quantify exactly what I want to see more of in YA--it's actually a question that will tie in with my thesis work! Very exciting!--so I'm going to talk about several of my all-time favorite YAs, which have all withstood the important "reread" test, and how they exemplify the kind of writing that I want more of.
POISON STUDY by Maria Snyder: This plot-driven, high-quality-character book has one of the most successful original fantasy premises I've discovered in recent years. It's not necessarily more or less complicated than other fantasy premises that have emerged in the past half decade, but Yelena's narration doesn't get bogged down in descriptions and explanations; instead, those unfold effortlessly in the crisp writing. On top of that, Yelena is extremely smart in situations that would've broken me down. Every time I reread this book, usually at least half the book goes by before I come up for my first breath of air!
FAT CAT by Robin Brande: One of those gems of YA lit that I wish more people knew about. What is it about Cat's story that I can't get enough of? I like that she's smart, but from the very first chapter the reader can simultaneously empathize with her AND see the potential for growth in her. I'm in awe of this sort of literary duality, because it is often much easier to portray a character as either totally put-together or completely broken.
The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty (Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, etc.): Arguably my favorite series of all time. McCafferty's introduction to us of her memorable characters is effortless: the use (and misuse) of class superlatives was a clever way of painting the characters from Jessica's snarky POV. Every sentence has its purpose in these books; that is something easier said than done in writing!
So what do these mini-analyses conclude? I'm not too sure, but I think it has something to do with minimizing the distance between the characters and the reader. The best kind of fiction writing for me is often "invisible" yet indispensable... kind of like the stage crew in a no-hitch performance. :) The first read-through should be inexplicably all-consuming and un-putdownable; subsequent read-throughs should reveal the painstaking work that the author has put into the book to make it read effortlessly. Hey, no one said writing is easy, and good writing will not be!
Thank you, Steph!
Readers, what books pass the all-important Reread Test for you? What do you think sets them apart? Would you reread a book you didn't really care for the first time in order to find the hidden gems? Let us know! (Plus we're doing a drawing for this week's prize soon! US addresses only.)
By the way, this What YA Bloggers Want series is in honor of YALSA's Teen Read Week and National Book Month!