Hello! It's Vim here, back from a sluggish hiatus to welcome you to the first in an on-going series from Bustle and Vim: Now Read This! We've been doing some mental housecleaning lately to hone in on the subjects we're most passionate about. HOW DID WE MISS BOOKS??? Bustle and I are BIG readers, and I can't believe we didn't put it in the main menu to begin with, but ah well: learning.
So, for our inaugural post in this ongoing series, we've decided to serve up some relaxing, escapist fun in the form of our current favorite YA series. I would say, don't judge, but let's be honest. YA series have been popular with adult readers ever since Harry Potter hit the scene, and they are so popular now, they have joined the adult section at my local Barnes & Noble. (Thank goodness, it's embarrassing to be a grown-up in a section titled for teenagers, in the same way it's embarrassing to still shop at Forever 21... which I... sometimes do). Some of the best writing is happening right now in YA fiction.
I'm currently reading The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard and the Legend series by Marie Lu. I'm two books in on both these trilogies, and I can't wait to see how they turn out. I'm impressed enough with the first two to recommend them both!
Mare Barrow is an ordinary girl from The Stilts, thieving to help her family get by in a society of vicious inequality that separates those with red blood, and those with silver. Silvers possess special powers like the ability to control fire, water, read minds, and bend metal to their will. Through an accident of fate, Mare discovers that she, a Red, has powers of her own and this dangerous discovery sets in motion a tale of palace intrigue, rebellion, and war.
Much like The Hunger Games series, The Red Queen gets to the heart of the very human consequences of a system dependent on inequality, and the price of rebellion, in a thrilling adventure that will keep you wanting more.
Also set in a dystopian universe, The Legend series deals with two main characters: June Iparis, military prodigy of the Republic and member of the elite class, and Day, a homeless thief and exceptional escape artist, doomed to a life in the shadows after failing The Trials - a Republic test to determine who is worthy of education, employment, and even survival.
Told in tandem from their two perspectives, Legend weaves together a page-turning mystery that brings these characters together as they both discover nothing is as it seems.
And, lo, Bustle enters the scene: I also feel some justification is required for this YA abundance, so I would like to make mention that in high school Vim and I read everything written by Pat Conroy. Clearly we read adult fiction, just in reverse order. Was YA literature even a thing when we were YAs? I mean, are we talking about The Outsiders?
Anyway, I would like to recommend the Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente. The first book in the series is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Go ahead and read that title again. Isn't it fabulous? The language in the these books is just gorgeous; I can honestly say the descriptions are sweeping and arching, glorious and astonishing. I normally don't use so many italics when talking about a book, but this series has earned every one.
The first book follows 12 year old September who is living an ordinary life in Nebraska until she is swept away by the Green Wind to Fairy Land. There she befriends various inhabitants of Fairyland, a book loving Wyvern ( I think that's a dragon) and a blue boy named Saturday. And, of course, she must battle the ruling dictator of Fairyland, the Marquess. And sort of like The Wizard of Oz, Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland September returns to Fairyland for new adventures in every subsequent story.
I just finished reading the third book in the series, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, and I want to share one of my favorite lines from the book. September has just been acting very assertively: "Being stern was like being underwater - she could do it, but never for long, and how her whole body burned to come up for breath!" Gorgeous...
Ok, in YA literature there is a preponderance of ordinary people rising to the occasion and accomplishing great and impossible feats of bravery. You know why this is such a popular trope? Because it's great! Because should I ever be thrust into a magical, dystopian otherworld, I hope I will act with all kinds of clever industriousness and righteous fortitude. Also, I long to play the badass...
And so I recommend the Tearling series by Erika Johansen. The first book follows Kelsea, a girl raised in exile, but at 19 years of age must assume the throne. Her kingdom is rife with corruption and cruelty, and her first act as Queen is one of daring boldness that puts her life and rule at risk. There is some magic in this series (of course there is) and a lot of good people making hard choices. I absolutely adored this trilogy, and read the three books as fast as I could.
Three more week of summer, y'all. We wish you happy reading!