Ten Books: Crossover

With the recent popularity of books like Twilight, The Book Thief, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, young adult literature is being increasingly noticed by readers who wouldn’t necessarily call themselves young adults any more. But young is a state of mind, and here are a few young adult titles that less young adults might enjoy, and find relevant.

  1. The Piper’s Son, Melina Marchetta. We can’t say enough good things about Melina Marchetta. The Piper’s Son examines grief, family, forgiveness, and love, following an almost-year in the life of 22 year old Tom McKee and his 42 year old aunt Georgie in the wake of some significant family disasters.
  2. The King of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner. Again, there aren’t enough good things. The King of Attolia is the third book in a series that contains more spoilers and plot twists than you can poke a stick at, making it rather difficult to describe. There are political subtleties and intrigues that are more than suitable for an adult reader. The first in the series is The Thief, but there’s a time paradox thing going on, in that Megan Whalen Turner says that The King spoils The Thief, but also The Thief spoils The King. Tis true, so where to start? I suppose it doesn’t really matter.
  3. The 10 pm Question, Kate De Goldi. If you haven’t already read it, then make sure you do! Although be warned, this book is most likely to make you think you may require therapy (and if you don’t think this while reading it then you’re certainly okay). Frankie’s worries about life and his family are so real it’s scary, but the story’s so good it doesn’t get bogged down in a pit of anxious depression. Loved the bird game.
  4. Dreamhunter, Elizabeth Knox. Again, if you haven’t you must. It took a while to get my bearings in this alternate world, but once there it’s like the inside of a dream and at the same time completely real (as dreams are). I like how practical and intelligent Elizabeth Knox’s female characters are especially, and have to admire fantasy that is exactly that, not derived from someone else’s imagined world, or Norse legend (it’s nice for variety). The story concludes with Dreamquake, and the two volumes have been published together as the wrist-breaking¬†The Invisible Road.
  5. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, M T Anderson. The first volume is The Pox Party and the second The Kingdom on the Waves. Set in 18th century Boston, The Astonishing Life tells the story of Octavian, son of an African princess , who is the subject of an experiment into the learning capacity of different races, survives and flees the titular pox party to fight in the second volume for Lord Dunmore, the British governor of Virginia, in the hope of being freed. M T Anderson’s book Feed is also popular with book clubs.
  6. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness. The first book in the much praised Chaos Walking trilogy. The story is set in a dystopian future when good Christians have settled the planet New World, and where 12 year old Todd lives in the male-only settlement of Prentisstown. The inhabitants’ thoughts can all be heard – called the Noise – and things kick off when Todd and his dog hear a silence in the Noise. Fast paced and gritty.
  7. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron. Often mentioned in connection with The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. James Sveck is in the in between between high school and college, which would be an interesting time, except if you’re a jaded, brilliant pessimist who confesses to not liking people and who doesn’t know how to relate to the one person he does actually like. James’ narration is the star of the show in this often bleak, sometimes funny story.
  8. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones. Another must read if you haven’t already. Especially if you’ve seen and liked the film by Hayao Miyazaki, although the film and the book are quite different in their fantasy-ness (one is very Hayao Miyazaki and the other is very Diana Wynne Jones). Howl is a talented yet flawed wizard and lives in a moving castle, courtesy of a fire demon named Calcifer; Sophie is a plucky teenager who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up an old lady who then ends up as Howl’s cleaning lady and conscience, and all the while there is the Witch of the Waste and much complex, dastardly magic. Trivia: both The King of Attolia and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (see #2) contain a quote from HMC (being “What a lie that was”).
  9. Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd. Set in Ireland at the time of Bobby Sands’ hunger strike (see the movie Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen, R-16), Bog Child tells the story of Fergus (whose brother has joined the hunger strike) who travels across the Northern Irish border (south) to steal peat and digs up the body of a child who appears to be murdered. His story and that of Mel, the bog child, are interwoven in this excellent story by the late Siobhan Dowd.
  10. Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. A revisioning of the Grimm ‘Snow White and Rose Red’ fairytale, lyrically written but with a dark underbelly. The book has simultaneously caused swirling controversy and won acclaim (see this Guardian article, for example ). Lanagan was recently in Wellington for the Readers and Writers week, and wrote favourably about Wellington in her blog¬†(even with the bad weather).