I read a lot of books, right? I read a lot of books that are not necessarily for me. That's what Pink Me is for - I review books for people who choose books for kids. I'm happy with this state of affairs. I wouldn't do it if I weren't. And it's not too often that I have to read something that I truly dislike.
But. Even I have needs.
So, you wanna know what I love? You wanna know what I really, really love? I mean, besides the Spice Girls (obviously), and Peter Stormare? Besides Lou Reed's voice, the Pacific Northwest, fringe on just about anything, and making fun of Martha Stewart (have you ever read her blog? Consumption hasn't been that conspicuous since the Gilded Age!)?
I love drinking a Dale's Pale Ale while I take a hot bath and read a great YA novel. That is my version of being a grownup. And what do I look for in a book to take into the bath? What do I really really read for fun when I get to choose just exactly what I'm going to read?
- Teen fiction
- About characters I can believe
- Some of them female
If there are rock and roll references, why then so much the better. Magic I am fine with, as long as it doesn't involve too many made-up words or Portentious Capitalized Nouns. "She settled herself at the desk in The Third Bedroom, gazed out the window at The Willow, and began to type."
So you might think that Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, a first novel from a Seattle-ite, with its hip, Vlad Tod-like cover art and rock pun title, would be a no-brainer for me. But in fact not. It had to sit on my coffee table for a couple weeks first, infecting me with the Tiny Dancer earworm whenever I walked past. I might have skipped it just for that (I do not LIKE Elton John's slow songs), but then there's a Sherman Alexie blurb on the cover, and I am a bit of a slave to Our Sherm.
Good thing I am. Reading this book was like making a new friend. And I don't mean that in some kind of mushy, heartwarming way - if your friends are like my friends, you made them when you realized you liked all the same music and comics and then they insulted your outfit. Best kind of friends, the friends who will totally give you shit all the time.
Samhain Corvus LaCroix knows all about this. Washed out of college, working in a fast-food place, traveling by skateboard, his seemingly dead-end life is only bearable because he is tighter than tight with his best friends. He doesn't know what's going to happen next, and he's a little concerned about it. We aren't, of course. We know that something cool and/or weird and/or dangerous is going to happen to ol' Sam, and soon. And it does, lots of things do, and they're pretty damn cool and weird and dangerous.
I'm not going to spoil a thing - you might be visiting Pink Me to figure out what to buy for your kids for the holidays, but this one you should pick up for yourself. Is there romance? Sure, there's a little romance, not enough to ick me out but probably enough for my friends who like a little romance. Is there banter? Oh you bet your butt there's banter. Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Well, we're following Sam pretty closely, so there aren't that many conversations that don't involve him, but there certainly are excellent female characters. Notably, a dead schoolgirl with an extremely smart mouth who... crap I said no spoilers, didn't I?
Most importantly, Sam and his friends are fully-figured, filled-out, audible, flesh-and-blood characters. Even the dead ones have personality. Sam's habitual detachment gives him leave to make wry comments on the action, and yet we never question his engagement. Does that combo sound a little familiar? Well, let's just say that this author loves her little team of Scoobies.
Geek Bonus: every chapter name is a lyric from a song. A sample of artists represented: Sweet, Guns 'n' Roses, Beatles, INXS, AC/DC, Screamin' Jay Hawkins... what kind of person does that? I ask, having for years written a blog on which almost every post was titled by a song lyric. Sometimes I used a line from Buffy as a post title. I'd like a look at Lish McBride's iPod one of these days. I bet it looks pretty familiar. Super Geek Bonus: a chapter title that is both an Oingo Boingo song and a Buffy episode.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer belongs on a very short list of YA books that have both pith and snark. Funny, fast, structurally sound, and thrilling, this is one I'm going to be handing out to all the cool kids.