Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Favorite YA Books That I Read in 2011: Part Deux

Welcome to Part II of My Favorites of 2011, which include creepy ballads, ladies with powers, non-angsty vamps, Maori mythos, and a super creepy older sister.

Inspired by the song "Scarborough Fair," this novel pits 17-year-old Lucy against an Elfin Knight who has been laying claim to women of her family for generations, raping, impregnating, and driving them mad. Unless Lucy can complete three impossible tasks, the Elfin Knight will force her to become his consort.

Lucy is inspiring because she is not a superhero; she is a regular girl in an impossible situation. Werlin makes it clear that what sets Lucy apart from her mother, grandmother, and other female ancestors is that she has a wonderful family and friends, and it is their love and support that allows her to dig deep and find the strength to survive.

Both Akata Witch and Who Fears Death feature narrators whose appearance marks them out as different and who can do magic. Akata Witch’s heroine, Sunny, is a 12-year-old who joins three other pre-teens with powers as students of magic. The group is called upon to stop an twisted magician who is bent on evil. Onyesonwu, the narrator of Who Fears Death, has to fight to be taught by a master who does not believe that women have the necessary control to be safe as pupils of magic. But will her training be enough to face a deadly foe?

Akata Witch is lighter in tone than Who Fears Death, in which the narrator is a product of rape, but both books have high stakes, compelling characters, and thrillingly original visions of magic.   

When Pearl, a teenaged vampire, is pierced through the heart by a unicorn’s horn, she is suddenly able to survive in sunlight. Her family intends to use this ability to get her to recruit students from the local high school to be dishes at a vampire feast they are throwing. But along with her newfound sun tolerance, Pearl has also developed a conscience, which is giving her trouble about sacrificing her classmates.

This playful book, with nary a tortured soul in sight, proves that no genre can be considered played out as long as an author like Durst can come along with a fresh take. And it features the best disaster prom this side of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Ellie is a regular New Zealand high school girl, until her innate perceptions are awakened and she becomes able to see the hidden magical world (based in Maori mythology) that exists alongside the regular world. A mysterious woman who seems to be mesmerizing Ellie’s best friend, and a serial killer whose body count is increasing, both belong to this world, and to an emerging plot which, if Ellie can’t stop it, may destroy the world.

Ellie is a tough heroine—she is trained in Tae Kwon Do. She is also described as being slightly overweight, which is unique in a genre where heroines are usually gorgeous and thin. And the end of this book features a journey through the spirit world that is one of the most wonderful dreamlike intuitive sequences I have ever read.

Chloe moves out of town to live with her dad and to escape her memories of a classmate drowning. But when her sister Ruby convinces her to move back home, she discovers that her memories may be wrong and that her sister Ruby may have been involved in the accident.

This chilling novel is a wonderfully creepy expression of twisted sisterly love.

Tomorrow:  The third and final installment of My Favorites of 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment