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Friday, April 18, 2014

Young Adults: The Golden Age?

by Jan Pease

The golden age of young adult novels continues with four new books on my desk this week.  I don’t know why this is a trend, but they each have one-word titles.
I’ve been waiting for Sunrise, by Mike Mullin, for about a year. This novel is the final book in the “Ashfall” trilogy.  This trilogy follows the fate of a young man who walks through the landscape of volcanic winter after the Yellowstone Caldera explodes.  Since there really is a possibility of the Caldera blowing, this book has a sense of reality most dystopian novels don’t share.  Most of the humans and animals in the Midwest die.  The remaining people either work together to survive, or degenerate into horrible outlaw gangs.  The novels are violent and graphic, so I recommend them for older readers.
 Panic, by Lauren Oliver, reminds me of a few events I experienced some 43 years ago, although I never was in as much danger, or trouble, as the teenagers in Lauren Oliver’s town of Carp.  “Panic” is a series of challenges that teenagers can participate in just after graduation from high school. Sometimes people have died playing Panic.  The final event is a game of chicken, with cars running at high speeds and the potential for disaster. 

Author Chris Wooding has a new book, Silver, which starts like a typical British boarding school novel but, according to Booklist,  Wooding has morphed a traditional English boarding school story—bullies, evil headmaster, well-intentioned teacher, and boy/girl drama—into a horror/survival story that would make William Golding and Gary Paulsen envious.”  Wow.  Lord of the Flies meets Hatchet?  The students find themselves fighting for survival with a biological weapon experiment that has somehow gone wrong. 

 “Conspiracy 365” was a riveting series that flew off our shelves.  Readers had to wait each month for the next book to be released. 

 The same publisher, Kane Miller, began a new series this year, “The Last Thirteen,” written by James Phalen.  Counting down from thirteen, this series explores the story of Sam, who is one of the last thirteen Dreamers. This information is quoted from the Kane Miller website: “Caught in a covert battle to preserve life as we know it, he must follow the clues to find twelve more Dreamers. Only this unique group can unravel the mysteries of an ancient prophecy and locate the long-lost key to Earth’s survival.”  The newest book is 9, and the countdown continues.

 If there is a trend in these books, it might be that authors are moving away from the paranormal and toward more action and suspense.  9, which is the most supernatural of the four books,  is still action-packed.  Of course, more action can mean more violence. The Ashfall Trilogy can be exceptionally gruesome.  At least there are no vampires, werewolves, or zombies.  See you at the library!