So I have a lot more time on my hands in the summer, so in addition to all the projects I put off during the school year, I am also doing a lot of reading.
In the past few days I have read Withering Tights by Louise Rennison, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and City of Ashes, City of Glass, and Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.
I loved Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson series, which begins with Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging. I therefore had high expectations for her new character Tallulah in Withering Tights. I was not disappointed. Tallulah is spending her summer in Yorkshire at a performing arts school to which she may earn full-time admission if she does well at the camp. Unfortunately Tallulah does not have any formal performing arts training or talent. She is of course zany and funny, similar to her cousin Georgia, but not too similar; I am pleased that Rennison did not create a carbon copy of Georgia. Tallulah makes friends, meets some boys (of course) and ultimately has a fantastic summer stretching her talents to fit her long legs and knobbly knees. There are of course loads of Bronte references throughout, which may make some teens go out an read Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. I am looking forward to the next book which is coming out in the UK in February and will hopefully come here soon afterwards.
I have loved everything I have read by Libba Bray. What I like best about her is the wide variety of genres she covers. A Great and Terrible Beauty and its sequels are solidly fantasy with a touch of romance. Going Bovine is mostly drama, and Beauty Queens is unequivocally satire. And that is why it is brilliant. A plane full of teen beauty queens crashes on a deserted island hilarity and satire of everything from beauty pagents to presidential elections to reality TV ensue. As the girls learn to survive in a world where the pressures of beauty are gone we get to know each of the surviving contestants through her actions and interactions as well as delightful "Miss Teen Dreams Fun Facts" pages inserted between the chapters. Unsurprisingly the girls grow strong physically and mentally and form significant bonds with each other and their own ambitions and dreams. It really is a good story of feminine strength mixed with pokes at female stereotypes and expectations. One of my favorite aspects of the book is Bray's assumption that her teen readers are intelligent. Much of the satire is subtle, but she does not stoop to explain it all, she trusts her readers will understand and appreciate her digs. I like books that do not spoon feed teens and these types of books help make the case that YA literature can be as rich and literary as the classics.
Totally different are the books by Cassandra Clare...after the first of the Mortal Instruments series City of Bones I found myself 4th on the waiting list at the library for the 2nd book. Unable to wait I bought City of Ashes while on a business trip to Philadelphia. Luckily book 3, City of Glass was available at the library just as I was finishing 2. Ironically, the dust jacket of 3 states "final book in the trilogy" yet book 4 has recently been released....hmmm. I do not mind and am eager to read it, sadly though I am 24th on the waiting list as of yesterday. What makes these books so good is a strong female protagonist, an interesting hidden world of Shadowhunters (part angel demon catchers), Downworlders (vampires, werewolves, and the fey) and mundanes (regular ole people), and non-stop action. I have also read the first book in the next series (Infernal Devices) Clockwork Angel, which takes place in the same world, but before the time of the Mortal Instruments series. The premise of all the books is unique, the characters well-developed, andthe action precise.