I formally state here that I co-opted this blog topic from fellow author Nova Ren Suma. You can find her original post here at her blog Like me, she started as a middle grade witer and then found herself writing YA. Not only do I now write YA but it’s what I’m reading too. I always have but I find myself buying and borrowing almost all teen fiction these days. Why? Because it’s on the whole well-written, often of the fantasy genre which I love, and perhaps because the characters are at a stage in their life when they are forming opinions and experiencing big emotions for the first time, I find the literature gripping and engrossing. First love, tragedy, sex, death. Big human experiences but by the time we are adults most of us have lived through these events and are somewhat jaded. I know it’s hard to accept but it’s true. When we are younger, we are transported, staggered by the realization that the person we adore, also adores us. We kiss until our lips are bruised and tinged blue. We hold hands until our palms are sticky and warm. We feel things intensely. As adults, everything is seen through the slight haze of prior experience. The emotions are not surface, immediate, exhilarating and NEW. That’s why I love YA. It’s like the first time for everything. Writing YA encourages me to delve into my feelings, my memories, my attitudes– and reading it, gives me a thrill. So, here are some wonderfully written passages from various YA books I’ve read recently:
It was a very pale fire, almost colorless , as if water had learned how to burn. Liannan rose from the high flame the color of a fountain with her head bowed, like a goddess rising from the sea. The fire settled over the circle, lapping gently as the sea at low tide around them, and she stood before Nick and lifted her face to his. (THE DEMON’S LEXICON by Sarah Rees Brennan).
But back to the best day of my life, Disney, and my near-death experience. I know what you’re thinking: WTF? Who dies at Disney World? It’s full of spinning teacups and magical princesses and big-assed chipmunks walking around waving like it’s absolutley normal for jumbo-sized stuffed animals to come to life and pose for photo ops. Like, seriously. (GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray).
They found the gate open. Dry leaves blew across a small courtyard lined with doors. These, too, were open, showing small nuns’ cells with little in them except bedding. At the far end was a chapel. A table was covered with a cloth and a pewter cross. A single window was made of small panes of glass fastened together by lead strips. The panes were milky white except for one in the middle, a triangular shard of ruby red. It hung in the middle like a drop of blood, and the sun shone through it with a glory that made Jack catch his breath. (THE ISLANDS OF THE BLESSED by Nancy Farmer).
They had no TV but knew hundreds of songs—all of them in a language that Kizzy’s teachers had never even heard of—and they sat on rickety chairs in the yard and sang them together, their voices as plaintive as wolves’, howling at the moon. There were lots of hairy, blue-eyed uncles strumming old, beautiful guitars, and stout aunts who dried flowers to smoke in their pipes. Cousins were numerous. Small and swift, they were always aswirl in the women’s skirts or dodging the goat like wee, shrill matadors. (LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor).
Deryn looked up and saw the medusa’s’ body alight with the sunrise, pulsing veins and arteries running like iridescent ivy through its translucent flesh. The tentacles drifted in the soft breezes around her, capturing pollen and insects and sucking them into the stomach sack above. (LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld).
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping. (THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins).
My mother used to tell me about the ocean. She said there was a place were there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing towards you and then away. She once showed me a picture that she said was my great-great-grandmother standing in the ocean as a child. It has been years since. and the picture was lost to fire long ago, but I remember it, faded and worn. A little girl surrounded by nothingness. (THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan).
I was born with a light covering of fur. After three days it has all fallen off, but the damage was done. My mother stopped trusting my father because it was a family condition he had not told her about. One of many omissions and lies. My father is a liar and so am I. But I am going to stop. I have to stop. I will tell you my story and I will tell it straight. No lies. No omissions. That’s my promise. This time I truly mean it. (LIAR by Justine Larbalestier).