Happy Valentine’s Day Kiddiewinks! A little while ago I got to thinking about nostalgia, and why it is the books and songs that we like as teenagers seem to stick in our minds more than anything we read or hear before or afterwards. I read an article which claimed that it was something to do with the teenage brain not being fully developed which is why teenagers are also inclined to take more risks or something… I preferred to think that my teenage self was free from cynicism and charmingly convinced of my own immortality, but never mind…
Whatever the reason, you can’t deny that books aimed at young adults (and I include crossover books here) have some great quotes about love, the nature of love and what it feels like to be in love and since this Valentine’s I have mostly decided not to be a grumpy cynic, I thought I would share my ten favourite with you now:
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My older sister bought me Fallen and Torment by Lauren Kate for my birthday back in December, and though I’d like to think that I’m generally not very snooty about which books I will or won’t read I have to admit that I was wary- like much of the world I have been suffering Twilight Sickness, and these books are in a similar vein.
In Fallen, Lucinda Price is sentenced to time at a school for young offenders having been implicated in a terrible accident. Her strange testimony about shadows gathering has everyone thinking that she’s crazy, or worse, has something to hide. Once there she finds herself torn between two handsome men (as all good heroines in teen romance books seem to do…) the dark and edgy but considerate Cam, and the aloof and somewhat unfriendly Daniel. Now, to most women that would seem like an obvious choice, but Luce has a feeling that she has known Daniel for a very, very long time. Torment is the sequel to this story, in what will be a four part deal.
So, the comparisons to the Twilight books are inevitable. Intelligent young heroine is placed in an unfamiliar environment and relies upon the charms of two supernatural (oh come on, you saw it coming) young men to help get her through. We also have the Twilight love triangle going on, and the character of Daniel is a lot like the character of Edward (an annoying, controlling know-it-all). They’ve even pre-empted the Edward Cullen effect by having some blonde weightlifter pose for promotional material, which I found quite funny. The young man was more a pretty teen than eternally beautiful angel, but I suppose you have to work with what’s available.
Despite this, I think that the Fallen books are infinitely superior. Luce is a lot less annoying than Bella, challenging Daniel’s decision to establish himself in the role of authority figure instead of playing the insipid little wife. I also like the way that the author has made the lines between good and evil a lot more blurred than they are in Twilight making elements of the books less predictable than they might otherwise have been.
Having said that, I suspect that parts of the books might just be a little predictable. And I can’t wait to read the next book to find out how the author will unfurl the story to prove me right!
Oh, and in case you wondered? I’m team Cam. I’m starting that bandwagon rolling.
I often enjoy reading teen/adult fiction, because the authors are generally happy to tell a decent, well written and engaging story without getting bogged down in literary pretentions of feeling the need to be, well, boring. I would hasten to add here that the Twilight Series are a clear exception here- I think they’re poorly written and thought the Wuthering Heights references were pathetic. So shoot me.
However, some books for young adults which have impressed me recently, and which will be enjoyed by old adults as well are listed below:
Before I Die- Jenny Downham
Tessa is 16 and like most teenage girls, she has a whole list of things she wants to try before she dies. But Tessa is dying of leukaemia. Before I Die tells the poignant story of Tessa trying to cram those important life milestones: getting drunk with friends, losing your virginity and falling in love into the short time that she has left. A beautiful bittersweet book which was totally devoid of melodrama, I cried my eyes out.
Th1rteen R3asons Why– Jay Asher
Imagine this. One day you come home to find a mysterious package on your doorstep. You open it to find that it is a shoe box full of cassettes, with numbers painted on them in nail varnish. When you play number 1, you realise that they are recorded in the voice of your first love and they want to tell you something important. That’s what happens to Clay Jensen. The only problem is, Clay’s first love Hannah is dead having committed suicide a fortnight before, and everyone named on the tape contributed to Hannah’s decision to kill herself-including Clay. Truly thought-provoking, this book made me reassess the way everyday interactions can have far seen effects upon an individual.
Before I Fall-Lauren Oliver
Sam Kingston is not your typical 18-year-old girl, in the sense that she is self-assured, a member of the most popular group of girls in school and loves her gorgeous boyfriend. In short, she lives what she believes is the perfect teenage life. That is until she is involved in a horrific car crash, bad enough to kill her, and she wakes up forced to live out her last day on earth over and over until she gets it right. A fusion of Th1rteen R3asons Why and Groundhog Day, Sam’s story makes you think again about how you treat your peers, regardless of where they come in the pecking order.
I was browsing the BBC website at lunchtime today and came across this feature on banned books in schools. I never encountered this kind of thing as a teacher, but I have always been profoundly amused at parents who believe that by stopping their children reading books they can somehow shelter them from the more unpleasant aspects of life.
Does anyone have any thoughts or feelings on this? I like to think when I have children I will be able to trust that they are mature enough to read the books and discuss themes like race, sexuality, drugs, violence or religion in an open and supportive way. That’s what my Dad always did with me. No books were off limits. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid ending up pregnant or addicted to narcotics. Go figure.
Seriously though. What do you think of this as a reader? Or as a parent? Or as a child?