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YA Author Rendezvous

Creativity Unleashed: Books for the young and the young at heart

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The Year of My Dystopia

Dystopian Young Adult Fiction - Young Adult Author Rendezvous - Tracy LawsonWritten by Tracy Lawson

I spent seventh grade in a dystopian haze, haunted by thoughts of totalitarian regimes, privations, curtailed personal freedoms, ubiquitous surveillance technology, and nuclear war.  Oh, and those awful utilitarian jumpsuits everyone had to wear.

And why, you ask? Well, it was like this…

Back in the 70s, young adult fiction as we know it did not exist. I read series like Trixie Belden and Sweet Valley High, which meant I was one step off from reading books about bunnies and rainbows.

But that year in English class, we were assigned Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, On the Beach, Fail-Safe, Brave New World and Flowers for Algernon, the bulk of the classics in the dystopian genre, with a science-fiction chaser and a couple Cold War propaganda novels and their film versions thrown in for good measure.  (Thank God they didn’t assign Clockwork Orange until high school.)

I was twelve, and I was terrified by what I read. I’d never seen a scary movie in my life. I had no frame of reference for the suffering in those books, didn’t connect with the characters, and found it hard to imagine societies and worlds so different from my own. I didn’t see these books as social commentary, as warnings, or as calls to arms. They were English assignments, and dreaded ones at that.

Years later, I choose to write in the young adult dystopian genre. Because now I get it, and I can tell an exciting story to share what I think. Frankly, writing YA dystopian fiction…rocks.

I’ve been re-reading the classics with great interest, and I’ll be taking a look at old v. new dystopian fiction in future posts.

Some of my new favorites:

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Matched by Ally Condie

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Farm by Emily McKay

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Gone by Michael Grant


Tracy’s original post can be read here.

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YA Authors to Check Out

Sonya Sones Contemprary Young Adult BooksYA Authors to Check Out, by Beth Rodgers

I love reading young adult novels. There’s really no other way to say it. It’s a fact. Even though I have a special leaning toward contemporary novels, I have found that young adult genres such as fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian can fascinate me as well – albeit not quite as much. This is likely why I myself gravitate toward writing in the contemporary genre. It just rings truer and more realistically to me, and therefore, it is easier to write in that vein.

There are several contemporary young adult authors who stick out in my mind as the cream of the crop – but take note that despite my love of the genre, I have not read every book out there (I’m trying, though!), and therefore there must be more authors who will one day fall into this category for me. For now, I’d like to give you a sampling of some of my favorite contemporary YA authors.

Sonya Sones. My novel, ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ thanks Sones in the acknowledgments for being one of my inspirations for making writing seem so effortless and for helping me maintain my focus, energy, and love of writing through her words. She writes spectacular novels-in-verse that are not only fast and easy to read, but that connect readers through creative and metaphorical ways with words. Start with ‘What My Mother Doesn’t Know’ – it’s the one that pulled me in and got me so invested in finding and flying through the rest of her novels!

Meredith Zeitlin. I have only come to know of Zeitlin and her novels pretty recently, but she has quickly become one of my all-time favorite YA contemporary authors. She writes in much the same manner that I feel I do, with a female protagonist who is not quite sure of herself all the time, but finds strength in her convictions when necessary and finds herself in predicaments that are annoying to her, yet humorous to readers. Her writing is crisp and clear, and always has me eager to read more. Check out her novels, ‘Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters’ and ‘Sophomore Year is Greek to Me’ – you’ll be hooked in no time!

Alyson Noel. I first found one of Noel’s books at a local library book sale. The title was ‘Kiss & Blog,’ and I thought it sounded right up my alley. Besides being a fast and fun read, it spurred my interest in reading more of her novels – I’ve read six of hers in total so far. She captures teen life in a way that has more sex, drugs, and other not-so-wholesome issues included, but she does so in a way that doesn’t detract from the innocent values that her main characters still find a way of exhibiting. Even though my novel, ‘Freshman Fourteen,’ is more wholesome overall, reading about the troubles and indecision of teens who are not so much like my main characters still resonates with me and allows me to think about how I might incorporate different values and lessons into my own writing.

YA Author Rendezvous (YAAR). This fabulously gifted group that I am lucky to be a part of (and whose website you are reading this blog post on) includes some of my favorite new authors. With genres ranging from contemporary to paranormal, dystopian, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery, there is something for everyone. I highly encourage you to pick up some of the books mentioned on this website. You won’t be sorry you did. They are compelling in so many ways – motivationally, metaphorically, and because all the novels by authors in this group are written with the reader in mind (I’m sure the other authors mentioned above do this as well!). As readers ourselves, we take pride in providing you with what you want, because it’s what we want too!

I hope this listing of authors gives you a basis of where to start. And please note that this list is not by any means all-inclusive. There are so, so, so many authors and books out there that are begging to be read that can easily fall into the category of greatness. However, knowing what you’re looking for and what/who you already like in terms of your favorite genre or writing style will help you figure out new potential reading interests that much quicker. Good luck and happy reading!


Miss last week’s post? Check it out here!

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The Fate of Ten – Pittacus Lore

The Fate of Ten by Pittacus LoreThe Fate of Ten – Pittacus Lore – 5 Stars, by Lauren Mayhew

Blurb: For years the Garde have fought the Mogadorians in secret. Now all of that has changed. The invasion has begun. If the Garde can’t find a way to stop the Mogs, humanity will suffer the same fate as the Lorien: annihilation.

There is still hope. When the Elders sent the Garde to Earth, they had a plan-one which the Garde are finally starting to understand. In the climax of The Revenge of Seven, a group of the Garde traveled to an ancient pyramid in Mexico known to their people as the Sanctuary. There they awoke a power that had been hidden within our planet for generations. Now this power can save the world . . . or destroy it. It will all depend on who wields it.

I cannot even begin to explain how much I love these books! As far as I can remember, I have been reading them since the first one – I am Number Four – came out, so I’ve had a lot of patient waiting to do. And guess what… It’s still not finished!

I don’t mind there being another book because I’m really not keen for this series to be over, I just can’t believe the cliffhanger that it ended on.

I think I was supposed to be a bit more upset than I was at the ending of this book, but the character that we say goodbye to just seemed to be a bit of a spare part to me. I’m more worried about the impact this is going to have on a certain other character that I love!

This book was action packed from page 1. This one didn’t swap between too many different characters either, it was only John, Six and Ella occasionally. It made it a lot easier to read because I wasn’t having to try and remember which font applied to which character! The previous books had a habit of doing this and it got really confusing.

I think the whole book takes place in about 48 hours or so and a LOT happens in that time. I really don’t want to give too much away with this one, unlike some of my other reviews.

I’m loving the development of humans getting Legacies, though I do see this backfiring at some point. Maybe I’m too sceptical.

It was interesting to see some of the back story of Setrakus Ra. And one of my favourite lines during this sequence came from Six to the big bad himself – I would write it here, but it’s a little bit rude!

Ella really grows as a character in this one and I love her to pieces. There was a heart stopping moment involving her in this one. I’m not even joking, if Ella doesn’t make it, I will not be happy. Same goes for Sam, Marina and John. Six too. And Nine. Basically, no more Garde are allowed to die – apart from Five. I still haven’t quite figured him out.

I’m eagerly awaiting book 7. Hopefully it doesn’t take longer than a year.. This is definitely going onto my all time favourite books list.

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Are You Genre-Phobic?

Young Adult Books Genre PhobicAre you genre-phobic, by T.D. Shields.

Are you a genre-phobe? Do you love to read fantasy but avoid romance like the plague?

Sci-fi flips your switch but horror makes you flip out?

I’m right there with you. Through the years I’ve had many genre phobias, but I notice that mine tend to shift over time.

When I was a teenager, I couldn’t get enough of romance novels. I loved to read about people older than me living exciting lives where I could picture myself as part of the adventure. Now that I am the older person, I love to read Young Adult fiction for stories about people younger than me living exciting lives while I imagine being part of the adventure.

I tend to avoid horror and zombie books because of the gore… yet a serial killer thriller is a must-read in spite of the gore. Inconsistent, I know.  But I branch out occasionally and recently I even read a few zombie stories that I really enjoyed. (Married With Zombies; Eat, Slay, Love; and The Zombie Whisperer by Jesse Peterson – with titles like that, you can see why I had to give them a try.)

I never used to want to read anything non-fiction because I was in it for the exciting escapism. Now I enjoy biographies, memoirs, and the occasional non-fiction explainer. Bill Bryson is fantastic for that sort of thing.

So I’ve learned to be a little less genre-phobic these days and try a lot of new authors and styles. Sometimes it’s a bust, but often I find a great new book.

How about you? What are your genre phobias? What books have you found that break through your genre lines?

Come over to Facebook and tell me all about it! (You know you want to be my friend! https://www.facebook.com/tdshields.author/)

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