Ah, spring! My neighborhood is foaming over with dogwood and azalea, sketched pink scribbles of redbud branches and nodding lilac. Driving the kids to school is like a trip through some wretched YA fairy forest. Except it's also roadkill season, so the smashed rats and opossums on the side of the road give it a little gory, edgy aspect. Again, much like a lot of recent YA. Sigh.
I am totally, happily mired in reading for the YALSA committee I'm on, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (go nominate your favorite! do it now! I'll wait!), and I can't in all conscience post reviews of books we're considering for the list - but I can take a break from teenage immigrants and rock stars from time to time in order to cleanse my palate with a new book.
Here are some I have waiting in the wings for me:
MESSY by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. The sequel to SPOILED, the first YA novel by the women who bring you delicious commentary on the sad or misguided apparel choices of the rich and famous on their blog Go Fug Yourself. SPOILED was soapy but not stupid. Vivacious but not vapid. AND FUNNY. The characters in SPOILED shopped and schemed and stumbled and stood back up, but always on their own terms. They were girls to admire. Here's my review. MESSY doesn't come out until June, but my magnificently generous colleague Melissa lent me the ARC she scored at PLA.
Sons of the 613 by Mike Rubens. Rubens is a comedy writer who lives in Brooklyn but knows where to get a drink in Manhattan - his deceptively idiotic first novel was The Sheriff of Yrnameer, a (marginally) adult sci fi novel in the heroic-sarcastic-heroic tradition of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. That book is a thing of beauty to me. This next one (due out in September) looks like realistic boy YA, a subgenre that is recently coming into its own with books like Boy21 and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. Son of an imprisoned serial killer becomes a suspect when bodies start piling up again. I think he's going to find the real killer in the end, but I very much want to be along for that ride. Barry Lyga has written many books for kids and teens, including Archvillain (reviewed here) and its sequel The Mad Mask. This book sounds quite a bit like I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, which I loved a lot. So we'll see.
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi. I will admit, I read anything Paolo Bacigalupi writes. Ever since I read Ship Breaker in one night, then fired off a mash note email to the book's editor immediately after, I have been smitten. Drowned Cities takes place in the same world as Ship Breaker - a future Earth that has been crippled by global warming. One of the reasons I found that world so compelling was that it reminded me of parts of Asia now - just with all the settings cranked up. Hotter, more chaotic, the margin between success and failure reduced to a sliver.
Bloody Chester by J.T. Petty and Hilary Florido. Billed as a " horror-Western-mystery graphic novel" by First Second. J.T. Petty wrote The Squampkin Patch, which I swear is one of the scariest books I've read in the last ten years, even though it's meant for middle grade and illustrated by Marla Frazee. And he's the guy remaking Faces of Death as a fiction feature film. Brrr! Due out in July.
The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes), illustrated by Nate Powell (The Silence of Our Friends, Any Empire). Now there's an indie powerhouse pairing whose output I have got to see. In May.
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. I think I am finally ready for another book with vampires and high school. I am recovering from the damage I suffered during Twilight mania. (I am quite delicate - I didn't even read those books and I bear permanent scars.) And Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan both have the sense of humor that I feel must accompany any further treatment of this theme. Out in July.
The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent. It takes place in a steampunk-looking museum and the protagonist is a cataloger. Except for the outfit, that could have been me in 1998. But not til August.
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. I don't mind a fractured fairy tale, no I don't. Not even Shrek the XXIVth could spoil that format for me. So this one takes all the Prince Charmings from the fairy tales, gives them names, teams them up, and sends them off to save the kingdom (that part I'm guessing about). I like the cover, I like the boy-centric fairy tale setting - girls will read it too, girls don't mind books with male main characters generally - so I'm going to look for it. And it's a debut author, I am always interested in first books.
Pop by Gordon Korman. Gordon Korman - NOT a debut author, but I just read Born to Rock and I was reminded what a funny, smart, slyly soulful writer he is. Pop is about football, and I was just complaining about how I don't have enough decently written football books. Thank you Gordon Korman for hearing me! This one's out already.
There will be a new Captain Underpants oh thank you thank you Dav Pilkey! And a new Amelia Rules! Thank you Jimmy Gownley!
I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black. It is one of the most amusing anomalies in children's publishing that the horrible comedian Michael Ian Black writes children's picture books. The books are, in their own way, no less horrible. By which I mean - extremely funny in an extremely bratty way. Love the guy. So in September, I will be eagerly leafing through his next picture book. And I will be looking for the trailer before that. His trailers are not appropriate for kids but they are oh so funny for the rest of us.
Oh No, Little Dragon! by Jim Averbeck. It's a fact: Handsome Jim writes picture books that are sweet but not saccharine, thought-provoking but not beat-you-over-the-head-with-it. This will be a picture book I will like.