Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Average: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Harper Teen, 2015

These kids aren't remarkable. Well they are, but not compared to their peers. Not compared to some of the other kids at their school who are the Chosen Ones, the ones who find themselves at the middle of prophecies or catastrophes, the ones who are tasked with saving the world the way that unassuming teenagers who on the surface have no extraordinary skills always seem to do in young adult novels. Yeah, Mikey and his friends are not those kids.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a funny young adult novel very pointedly making fun of young adult novels. Imagine all the other students who went to Hogwarts while Harry Potter was a student, but who weren't friends with him. In this story, those characters are the protagonists. Each chapter starts off with a summary of whatever outrageous situation the chosen teens are up to, and that's all we ever hear of them in the story. What emerges, therefore, is a contemporary novel with just a dash of the extraordinary. Mikey is nursing a one-sided crush. One of his friends is a descendant of the god of cats (and trying very hard to ignore it). All these kids want is to get through the usual growing pains that come along with senior year without the school blowing up. Again.

My thoughts here are purposely vague because I don't want to spoil anything. I'll just say that if you like snark, if you like sass, if you like reading YA and at the same time roll your eyes at some of the more overused conventions of this category, pick this book up. It might be right up your alley.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It'll Suck You In: The Killing Jar

The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016

*ARC provided by the publisher - Thank You! This in no way impacted my opinions of this book*

Kenna has lived with a secret her whole life, something that has made her different from everybody else and something she can't fully explain. All she knows is that she's dangerous, and the best thing she can do for everyone she cares about is keep people at a distance. But when tragedy strikes her family just when it looks like her life is starting to improve, Kenna's dark power becomes the very thing to save them, but at a price. Sent to Eclipse, a nearby commune, Kenna starts to view her secret in a new way and embrace a life she never knew she could have. At least, that's how it looks on the surface - Kenna can sense that just below the serenity she feels, something far more sinister lies beneath...

Just like in her first novel, Struck, Jennifer Bosworth has again come up with a concept that doesn't remind me of anything else I've seen in the world of speculative young adult fiction. This is a big reason behind me giving this book 4 stars - I needed to keep going, to find out what happened next. I was surprised at how quickly I got sucked into the story because horror usually isn't my forte, but this was the kind of thriller in which you don't know how far in you've gotten until you're in over your head. I thought Kenna was contemplative and complex, and while I would have liked to see some secondary characters be a bit more flushed out, again, my engagement and interest in where this story was headed resulted in devouring most of this book in one evening.

If you like speculative fiction and are looking for a fresh concept, pick this one up. You'll be freaked out, but, you know, in a good way :)