Summer is the perfect time for young adult books. I might not be in the mood for serious literature, but I can enjoy some fast and fun teen fiction. Naturally I have another batch of titles to review and recommend.
The Madness Underneath is the second book in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series. I started it shortly after finishing The Name of the Star, which made me realize that I was perhaps more invested in the series than I thought. My opinion of the book changed from beginning to end. The first half or so felt like a reaction to the previous book without much cohesive plot to make it interesting in its own right. However, the narrative strands came together in the second half for an exciting conclusion. Okay, Maureen, I’m still on board.
Divergent is one of those books that I read because I felt like I should. The series is big in the young adult world right now, and the film adaptation of the first book is currently filming. And of course, everyone loves to ask, “Is this the next Hunger Games?” After reading the first book, I doubt that it will reach that level of popularity. I was engrossed in the plot early on, and Veronica Roth certainly creates some dramatic action sequences. The problem is that I found myself questioning the logic of her dystopian world, which shouldn’t happen with quality sci-fi. I might still read the second book, but I’m not confident that my questions will be answered.
This book. Oh my goodness, this book. I would have been obsessed with it when I was fifteen, and I still kind of am. In Omaha circa 1986, two misfit teenagers find each other and take tentative steps toward love. The plot could veer into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, but Eleanor and Park turn out to be wonderfully well-rounded characters. Eleanor is dealing with an overcrowded house and a creepy stepfather. Park struggles to find himself as the only half-Korean in the neighborhood. These characters have capital-E-Emotions, but I find them realistic rather than grating. I remember being sixteen when every emotion felt epic. The 80’s setting gives the story extra charm with cassette tapes, record stores, and no cell phones in sight.
After seeing these titles at the bookstore for months, it was great to finally discover what they’re all about. The best is a book like Eleanor & Park that fully meets my expectations. Of course, to-read lists have a tendency to never shrink, and there are plenty of other books on my radar. I hope to have another trio of young adult gems to share by the end of the summer.