At BEA, it was clear that YA sci-fi was definitely an up-and-coming genre. Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta was featured in the YA Author focus panel, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey was all the rage and ARCs of Rush by Eve Silver (review) and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner were making the rounds. But taking a look at YA releases for 2014, I can’t help but notice an overwhelming amount of intergalactic travel.
And it makes me nervous.
Some 2013 Sci-Fi YA novels that got a lot of buzz at BEA.
See, while I’ve had great success reading apocalyptic YA, vampire YA, zombie YA, you-hadn’t-even-heard-of-this-monster YA… I haven’t had too much success with Sci-Fi YA. Let me clarify: it’s spaceship Sci-Fi YA is what I’ve had trouble with. I tried reading Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan and Across the Universe by Beth Revis and couldn’t stand either of them. Both seemed like bad action/romance novels that just happen to be set in space.
No, really. They sucked.
Upcoming 2014 Sci-fi YA releases.
On the other hand, I’ve got my overwhelming desire to love anything with a big ol’ spaceship in it. I’m a big trekkie and browncoat, and really really want to see what I love brought out in YA. But most of the time, the books turn out to be like Star Trek: Into Darkness: complete fiascos that miss the entire point of science fiction.
That said, maybe things are turning around? I recently completed The 5th Wave and Rush – and while I found neither to be absolutely spectacular, they were certainly enjoyable. I’m also a few dozen pages into the sci-fi YA novel, These Broken Stars, and while it is still too early to say for sure, I am really enjoying it. The writing is surprisingly solid and I have a feeling the characters will be too. So… maybe things are looking up?
Out of the 2014 books, there are a couple that look of interest (I’m talking about Salvage by Alexandra Duncan)… but I have to say that Alienated by Melissa Landers sounds like it will either be an epic fail or an epic win. That one will really depend on execution.
So, what do we think of this new trend? Will more books mean more good books… or do I have a lot of mediocre to look forward to?
Rush by Eve Silver
Series: The Game #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on June 11th 2013
Genres: Science Fiction YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?
When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.
Thoughts: Rush is a tough book to review. It had potential and I certainly want to read the next book in the series – unlike, say, Breathe by Sarah Crossan or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, which were mediocre reads I will never revisit. However, Rush also had some serious problems.
Let’s start off with the good. For starters, it was the first Sci-Fi YA novel I have EVER finished. I just don’t think YA Sci-Fi has been all that good… and, at its very worst, Rush was readable science fiction.
Its premise reminded me of the Animorphs books: teenagers fighting off aliens in a secret war to save the planet. The modern twist to Rush was the incorporation of a gaming universe – one that existed but certainly wasn’t prevalent when the Animorphs books came out. I did rather like this concept. It dehumanised their fight, making it entertainment of a sort.
So, I liked the concept. The execution, on the other hand, was far from perfect.
For an action novel, Rush featured an awful lot of chatter. The main character, Miki, was constantly asking questions… which I applaud as a human being but loathe as a reader. It was such an obvious narrative tool and it felt extremely forced. As part of this, Silver made the other characters (no, actually, only Love Interest #1, Jackson) give purposefully cagey responses. There was no reason for Jackson to avoid Miki’s questions (he sure as hell didn’t towards the end of the book) other than to keep the “suspense” up. I wanted to scream through the pages, “Don’t ask him now! He won’t answer your simple question until the penultimate chapter!”
Rush’s “romantic” element was also rather tiresome. For starters, a romantic triangle is established right from the first chapter. Although Love Interest #2 doesn’t get much screen time in this instalment, I have no doubt that he’ll be in play in the next book. The pairing we do get page after page of details on was… rather blah. There was no chemistry, just a case of insta-love. God, kill me now. If I have to read about one more girl falling for a mysterious guy in sunglasses, I may just gauge my eyes out.
If you can’t tell: Rush was a frustrating read. It was as if Eve Silver felt “forced” to include a central romantic pairing, when she might have usually let them play out their relationship over a few books. She also could have easily cut Rush in half if she’d only let the key characters divulge more information earlier on. Very, very frustrating.
I am interested, however, in seeing how this universe evolves. As I mentioned, the concept is an interesting one that hits all of my Animorphs-nostalgia buttons and the writing is certainly readable. I will probably be picking up Push when it comes out next year.
Bottom line? Rush is the best YA Science Fiction I’ve read (though that isn’t saying all that much).
Note on the rating: While reading Rush, it felt like a 3.5 star-verging-on-4-star book. But the last few chapters dragged it down to 3 stars. Not bad, but not overwhelmingly great.
In this month’s recap: I visit the glorious Gladstone Library, get some serious reading done and decide to feed my ebook addiction.
The Gladstone Library
This month, I spent a wonderful weekend at the glorious Gladstone Library in Wales. This is the UK’s only residential library (or so I’m told), so I actually got to sleep with all the books. It was bookworm’s dream come true. You could take books up to your room, visit in the wee hours, have a glass of wine in their honour bar, and dinner in their dining hall. I wanted to move in forever.
The primary Gladstone collection is made up of Prime Minister Gladstone’s books, so they date from the 1800s and cover mainly theology and politics. However, the Library is also living collection, with a special fund established by Gladstone to buy new books. So while I didn’t spend too long perusing the theology section, I was able to find plenty of fiction and non-fiction to satisfy my tastes.
The historic element of the Library did, however, allow me to handle original copies of the Strand magazine that featured the first publication of the Sherlock Holmes stories. It was insanely exciting for me.
Original Strand magazines from the 19th century. These featured the first publications of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.
Feed My Reader
Book blogging has had a serious impact on my shelves. I buy/receive/am gifted more books than I will ever read. Even though I always try to get rid of the copies I don’t need or want, space has become a serious issue.
So, I’ve made the executive decision to expand my e-book collection. Though you will still see “real” book hauls, I’m going to be doing many more e-book hauls on Dead Book Darling: they’ll be entitled “Feed My Reader”. Though still not my preferred method of reading, I do love the convenience and manageability of e-books.
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
I took part, once again, in the glorious Dewey’s 24-hour readathon. It was an absolute blast and really helped break me back into the reading habit! I loved the hourly challenges, my favourite, of course, being my own. Check out the Show it Off! Challenge I hosted for a peek at some bookish treasures that participants shared!
This month was a pretty good one (thank you readathon!). I read:
- Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee (review here)
- The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
- Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, #2) by Patricia Briggs
- Blue-Blooded Vamp (Sabina Kane, #5) by Jaye Wells
- Rush (The Game, #1) by Eve Silver
My favourite was – surprise surprise – Briggs’ Hunting Ground. That woman can do no wrong (though her publishers can, a fact I covered in #Publisherfail). I was slightly disappointed by Blue-Blooded Vamp, which wasn’t quite as fierce as its predecessors. The Adventures of Superhero Girl wins the title of “most unexpectedly awesome book”. It was unexpectedly awesome – a fierce, feminist, generation 2.0 read. Loved it.
Book Expo America a.k.a. When 90% humidity, sleep deprivation and hours in line can’t stop you from having the time of your life.
So, remember how I said I knew what to expect from BEA going in? Well, when the time came to actually go in, all of that disappeared from my brain. I wandered in 1000% lost and thank god I just stumbled into the right signing line, otherwise I might still be roaming Javits. But it only took me an hour or so to get accustomed to the layout and pretty soon I was darting all over the place.
The poster size competition got rather out of hand.
Richelle Mead signing stacks of her new adult series.
Amy Tan interviewed in front of audience at the Downtown Stage.
This, I would soon discover, would become my life for the next 3 days. I was on my feet 9-5 thanking God that there was a Starbucks on the convention floor. I was powered by adrenaline and caffeine – and the kilos of books on my shoulders meant nothing. It was friggin’ Disneyland.
One of the best things about BEA: the bloggers. I met the lovely Mara (Girls in Capes) that first day, who introduced me to both Susan (Read This, Eat That) and Feliza. It was a lot easier to approach publishers in pairs, so some of the best publisher experiences I had were with them and Tania (Literary Cravings). (Excluding one awesome argument about Sansa Stark over at Source Books – nothing gets the blood boiling better than the Game of Thrones!)
So, yes, you do have to stand in line a lot at BEA – but that is one of the best parts. It gives you an opportunity to talk to fellow book lovers, learn the gossip, find out about books that you might not have otherwise heard of, exchange ARCs and, well, have someone watch your bag while you pop over to grab a coffee and/or publisher. Seriously, people, even if you aren’t British, you’ll quickly love the BEA queuing.
The signing area filled up super quick.
Cutest book poster at BEA – by far!
Amanda Sun with the MLP version of her main character.
I followed the advice online and checked a bag the first afternoon. On days 2 and 3 I made sure to bring along a wheelie bag as I had to walk a lot after the convention to get back to my hotel and on to the theatre. NYC may be walkable, but it was rather like walking in an oven while carrying your own coffin.
… I don’t do well in the heat.
Anyhow, I met so many authors while I was there they’ve actually rather blurred in my mind. Though I know the US often sends dozens of authors out on tour together, we have nothing like that in the UK. To see 2 or 3 at once is highly unusual – but at BEA? Well, Harlequin had Elizabeth Scott, Julie Kagawa, Amanda Sun, Katie McGarry and Dawn Metcalf together not once, but twice. That’s kinda amazing
So, for the record, I met: Victoria Schwab (super lovely), Amanda Sun (super, super lovely), Richelle Mead (!!), Ally Carter, Brandon Sanderson, Maria V. Snyder, Jonathan Maberry, Eve Silver, Teri Brown, Holly Black, Anna Jarzab, Leila Sales, Jennifer Castle, Sarah Dessen (!!), Marie Lu, Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan, Elizabeth Scott (sweetest person ever), Amy Tintera, Ellen Datlow, Alice Hoffman, Kendare Blake, Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young, Romily Bernard, Lauren Myracle, Dan Krokos, Elizabeth Norris, Katie McGarry, Dawn Metcalf, Dot Hutchison, Ted Dekker, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, Julie Kagawa, Sean Williams, Deborah Noyes, Michael Pocalyko, Amy Herrick, Faith Erin Hicks, Sarah Jio, and Tyler Whitesides.
Jonathan Maberry looking shiny in his comic book shirt of awesome.
Elizabeth Norris signing her already-released novel Unravelling.
Marie Lu signing extracts and posters at the Penguin booth.
In case you hadn’t noticed: I had an amazing time. I met so many amazing people and would highly recommend that you all give it a go sometime – whether as a blogger or as a power reader. However, I’m also glad I took the evening off from author events: it gave me much-needed time away from the chaos and the opportunity to bleed money on Broadway (Matthew Broderrik! David Hyde Pearce! I couldn’t possibly keep away.)