YA Romance Reviews

Read Like a Writer: EVERY DAY by David Levithan

If you are writing YA fiction, you need to read this book.

every dayEvery Day is a perfect example of how a powerful concept can drive the plot.  “A,” is a sixteen-year-old consciousness that changes bodies every day.  I’ll defer to the pronoun “he” to describe A, though lack of a consistent body means A has no permanent gender.  He also has no permanent race, religion, etc.–a concept which allows Levithan to test the parameters by which we define ourselves.

Teenagers are people at a very unique point in their lives as they are working to define exactly who they are.  That makes the concept of A all the more powerful—this teenager who defines himself not by the above mentioned categories but by his own moral code.  He tries as much as possible not to disturb the lives of the teenagers whose bodies he’s borrowing, but in doing so, he sacrifices his own ability to “find himself.”  His character can have no arc—no development and, as a result, no life.

That is…until he falls in love.  A meets Rhiannon, an aptly named girl who exhibits the same open, excepting qualities he values in himself.  And of course it doesn’t hurt that she has the same taste in music.  She takes him out of his comfort zone because–suddenly–he wants nothing more than to see this same person every day.  This is regardless of what body he happens to be wearing.  He wants, against all odds, to develop a relationship with this girl—a happenstance that will, in turn, develop A as a character.

Writers, this is how to do it.  Begin with a strong concept that challenges genre, structure, archetypes, etc. and built around it.  Levithan’s book is not just about an unlikely romance.  It’s not just about a kid with an unwanted power, and it isn’t just about the unique challenges and choices faced by teenagers.  It’s all of the above and more.  It’s the incredibly powerful intersection of those things and the conclusions Levithan comes to when playing with those narrative layers.  It’s art as art is meant to be—a mirror to life.

This book is an excellent read for any YA writer because its high concept mechanism challenges the genre, but that’s not the only reason you should pick up this book.

A side effect of A constantly being thrown into a new body is Levithan’s need to quickly and vividly paint new characters.  Granted, some of these characters are walking stereotypes, ostensibly created so that A can mentally berate them for their behavior, but for the most part, this book is an excellent study on how to introduce a character and show a measure of depth with only a few lines.

Levithan also strives to show many different teenagers facing a range of problems from normal teenage woes to incredible strife.  This makes the book an interesting read for those of us who have a tendency to write the same characters over and over.  Perhaps, like A, you will fall in love with this book, and it will draw you out of your comfort zone.  You will keep coming back, each time discovering more possibilities that will add realism to your writing.  Perhaps you will finally develop. 🙂

Michelle Joyce Bond

photo credit and author site: www.davidlevithan.com

Writing

Mission: Annoy Everyone By Reading Like a Writer

imagePeople who read like writers add layers of complexity to their understanding of written work.  We reverse engineer novels, trying to figure out exactly how an author put it all together.  This is in addition to normal regiment of deconstruction we usually apply to books, picking out theme, structure, figurative language, characterization, conflict, etc.

Why do we do it?  It’s…well, it’s fun!  Narratives are like abstract puzzles.  In my mind, they’re meant to be taken apart and their pieces examined to see how they both echo and add up to the larger whole.

I wonder about the process of a writer. How did this masterpiece (or pile of mush) I’m reading come to be? How can studying the choices the writer made help me improve my own writing?

When you read like a writer, you annoy the people around you by over-analyzing everything.  This is part of the fun…and boy am I going to have a lot of fun with you.

So here I present a new mission I’m adding to my blog: to deconstruct good YA paranormal books, focusing on what writers can learn from them.

My job and hobby make it difficult to find time to read, but I aim to get in as many quality books as I can.  Now, I need your help!

Have you read any YA paranormal books (preferably romance) that will blow my mind and keep me up all night thinking?  I’m looking for books that are well-written exemplars for writers to use as a model for their own craft.

Hit me with some good books!

Michelle Joyce Bond

YA Romance Reviews

When You Read TIME BETWEEN US by Tamara Ireland Stone

time between usAll Anna’s ever wanted in her comfortable little life is to travel beyond her hometown of Evanston, Illinois.  All Bennett’s ever wanted is stability.  Normalcy.  He has the power to move through space and time but has grounded himself momentarily in Anna’s town for personal reasons.  As soon as he hears Anna’s name, he recognizes her.  He’s seen the older Anna…a woman who gave him a warning.

Now, what Bennett’s tried to prevent is happening anyway.  Their lives are becoming entwined.  But Bennett is from the future–sixteen years later in San Fransisco, California.  It would be much easier if there were only distance between them…but there is all this time.  Bennett can’t always control his power.  What if he couldn’t get back?

When you read Time Between Us, you will be reminded of what makes an otherwise good young adult paranormal romance great.  Bennett’s power serves as a vehicle to explore deeper themes of love and attachment.  The title itself points this out and is echoed through the book as both the time spent between the characters (tense or enjoyable) and the time that literally separates them.  There are other strong themes–questions of morality and consequence–but the heart of the book is in the developing relationship between Anna and Bennett.  Tamara Ireland Stone does a beautiful job of reminding us of what ties us to one another.  Our simple, close moments.

Michelle Joyce Bond

Uncategorized

Calling All Lovers of Paranormal Romance

imageIf you know a good paranormal romance book that is either young adult or new adult and includes many of the same elements as a psychological thriller (similar to films like Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Butterfly Effect, etc.) please shout out below!  Also, if you know of any young adult or new adult books that are like the films above but do not fall into the paranormal romance genre, please tell me about them anyway.

I am in the laborious research phase during which I locate, read, and review other books that would be shelved with my own.  If you’d like to share a similar experience doing research for your own book, even if it doesn’t fit the genres I mentioned, feel free to share.  I’d love to hear it. 🙂

Michelle Joyce Bond