Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th waveVerdict:
Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publish Date: 5 May 2013
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 480
Genre: YA, sci-fi, dystopia
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

An apocalyptic thriller that genuinely makes you unable to put down the book. At first I was quite sceptic of The 5th Wave as I felt the writing style was pretty overdramatic (obviously it’s not going to be a bag of laughs when you think you are the last living person on the planet). But, what I mean to say is that what was annoying was how Zombie’s narrative voice primarily sounded the same as Cassie’s. That was pretty off-putting. Although eventually Rick Yancey found his voice for each individual narrative and The 5th Wave transformed into a very clever approach to a genre already established by many. Continue reading

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Review: Banish by Nicola Marsh

BanishTitle: Banish
Author:
Nicola Marsh
Publisher:
HarlequinTeen Australia
Release Date:  1st August 2013
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance
Source: Netgalley
Verdict:

Banish is an unusual YA paranormal thriller from the mind of an adult romance queen. Two contrasting ingredients which primarily sound bad if you mix them together, however, the product isn’t as bad as what you at first suspect.

At first I couldn’t help but worry about what genre Banish fell into as the opening 30 pages was centred on a developing teenage romance between our central character, Alyssa Wood and jazz lover Ronan. This made me feel disconnected towards the story and it came as no surprise to discover that author Nicola Marsh wrote romance fiction in the past. Yet I decided to continue reading Banish as the blurb plot did hold potential. I’m glad I did as about half way through the book I became hooked to this YA thriller.

Seventeen year old Alyssa has been living in tragedy after her boyfriend committed suicide the day after she dumped him. To boil more problems into the cauldron, her mother has succumbed to alcohol over the past few years to drown out the voices that she hears in her head. To escape from this gloomy world of Broadwater, Alyssa moves in with her aunt in New York City. Although she does have to make a compromise in the crazy department as her aunt is a Wicca High Priestess.

Despite this one issue, everything seems to be going well for Alyssa over the next six months. She is becoming cosy with Ronan, she has found a friend in new school student Seth and her aunt has stopped pestering her about joining the Wicca religion. In fact, it is so perfectly that it is boring for us readers as we strive for the equilibrium to be thrown into chaos. Luckily we cheer when the supernatural hunt begins when it comes attached to a video from her boyfriend. After the jazz musician finishes performing his piece in dedication to Alyssa on the video, the segment continues to reveal a dead females corpse oozing with blood.

More terrifying occurrences start to transpire within Alyssa’s life making our protagonist begin to question the people who she is close to. Is her Wicca obsessed aunt taunting Alyssa with these tricks to make her believe in the faith? Has wiz IT kid Ronan pulled the worst boyfriend joke of all time? Or is her ex-boyfriend Noah trying to communicate with her from beyond the grave?

What I loved about this book was the character of Alyssa. Since she was someone who had been thrown into a lifestyle right from her birth, it meant that you could easily sympathise with the actions she was forced to take in the present. This characterisation was extremely realistic and it was fantastic to see a female who was not made out to be a heroine, instead a femme that was not afraid to take care of herself.

One of the biggest problems for me was that the book ended too soon. So many different elements had been targeted within this novel meaning that when it came to the end it was all completed in a big rush. When it was revealed what the predictable twist was I was hoping that this must be a red-herring and there would be one final true twist. This wasn’t the case.

I must admit that Banish is refreshing in showcasing magic as something in the background, rather than making the book solely about this paranormal element. It was good to finally read a piece of fiction where magic was made out as something more normal. This was aided by the fact that Marsh focused on the idea of the Wicca religion. Again, this is an element of the supernatural which is absent from most YA texts so it was exciting to hear a unique angle on the subject for a change.

I hope that there will be a follow up to Banish. One door has been closed on Alyssa’s past life, however, there is still a lot of opportunity to be explored with Alyssa in the present. Also, half of the book would have been a waste of time if there is not going to be a second edition. It would be like Harry Potter finding out he is a wizard and not bothering to go to Hogwarts and instead resorting to live in his cupboard with the Dursleys.

The Young Adult Fiction Timeline

Contemporary Fiction

Contemporary Fiction (Photo credit: k.dripps)

You would have had to be hiding in an underground bunker, like in Take Shelter, for the past four years to not have realised that Young Adult Fiction is at the top of the range right now in the boookosphere. Being a teenager myself, this is something to celebrate as never before has there been so much choice for what I and all you teenagers out there can enjoy! Today I want to take you down the timeline road of YA fiction, where we will see what genres have shook up the industry and what we can expect to find in 2013. 

Young Adult literature of the twentieth century did cause quite a stir, mainly due to its controversy in a world where adults ruled. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger has been claimed as being the first true young adult novel in history, and a very good read it is too. Although it was published in 1951 with an adult audience in mind, its 17 year old protagonist, Holden Caulfield, was more relatable for teenagers and thus, it marked a changing in the growing separation between teenagers as children and as adults. The book had such an impact that it used to be censored in high schools due to its controversy surrounding identity, sexuality and profanity. This style of conveying the realistic personal truths and voices of a generation was continued by such writers as Jack Kerouac, who published his biopic following his travels throughout America in 1957 called On the Road. Another coming-of-age story of the times was the darker, The Outsiders, released a decade later in 1967. As the title suggests, it highlights the alienation from society felt by a group of teenagers in a gang of lower socioeconomic status than another.Following on from this the 1970s was the creator of what has been known as the “fab five” in teenage targeted fiction. These five famous novels were: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Friends by Rosa Guy, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Bless the Beasts and Children by Glendon Swarthout and Deathwatch by Robb White. Again these stories from the 70s included the same alienation and coming-of-age approach as its 50s and 60s counterparts. Although the tales were becoming heavier, for example, The Bell Jar is consumed with depression and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings involved racism and rape. This trend of novel which focused on the conflicting emotions of teenagers has had a deep imprint on the books that are now aimed at the YA audience of today. For example, The Perks of Being a Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky became a cult classic in 1999 and its continuous popularity resulted in a theatrical release starring Logan Lerman last year (2012). What seems to make these novels stand the test of time is their ability to still be able to connect with today’s teenage audience. They are timeless. The emotions and changes which have feed off of the coming-of-age population when they reach a certain time in their lives is nothing new, and these works of literature highlight this.

When we reach the Millennium there was a great change to the teenage fiction hitting the market. Instead of being semi-autobiographical, they started to mix with varying genres and created YA trends of their own. Harry Potter is the epitome of this. The first in the seven part series, the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 1997 and the franchise only continued to grow once this novel was adapted into a film in 2001. There is no point in me even ravelling on about the success of Harry Potter. What I want to point out is that although everyone of any age can enjoy Harry Potter, it was our teenage generation who connected with the series the most and who were able to experience it during its peak. We read (and re-read) the books as children. We followed them on their adventure into adulthood on the screen. We have been incredibly lucky to have such an important series in our lives to grow up alongside; in all it felt like we were coming-of-age as the characters were too. The series also lead the way for book adaptations, with it being clear what the biggest and best YA fiction was out there by if it gained a Hollywood film deal.

Now, we move swiftly into the Garden of Eden with a poisoned apple hanging from every delicate tree; the vampire period. Vampires were brought back into fashion in the noughties, although they had lost the scare factor of An Interview with the Vampire and Dracula; instead they had turned into the love fest of every teenage girls fantasy. No one could escape this; even if you were a 90 year old great-great grandmother you would still have a preference: Edward or Jacob. It was quite a beautiful movement back in the day when everyone was crazed with the vampires and the werewolves, to be honest it was quite fun to have a powerful fandom like that; the 60s teenager got the Beatles whereas we got Twilight. The first in the quadrilogy was released in 2005, but it didn’t become as huge then as it did in 2008 when it became the biggest selling book of the year, due to the film-tie-in. This lead to a whole host of paranormal romance series’ making it big, for example, L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries, which was first written well before Twilight in 1991, gained its own lush TV show which has gripped audiences around the world and is now set to gain a spin off. Another series which has caused great TV success is Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries, which is known to most of us as the compelling True Blood. Other literary authors on the vampire train include: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast’s House of Night series, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series and (more for the boys) Darren Shan’s The Saga of Darren Shan.

Girls love for everything with fangs evoked another world of science fiction and fantasy for teenagers, where creatures were making their way into the light and causing some bite. For example, we had the rising and falling of the angel: Alexandra Adornetto Halo trilogy became a great success for such a young writer herself and Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series began this insight into the problems of the fallen. Witches and spell casters also made their appearance and again they were less sinister than what the average vampire used to symbolise. Two crucial witchy first parters will be released as film adaptation this year: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures from the Caster Chronicles saga brings in heaps of spell casters with special abilities (think X-Men without Logan); and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments epic City of Bones, which forces one girl to enter a world she never thought to be possible. Also, the myths and legends of the Greeks met a modern twist in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series which began in 2005, and in the name of Alex Pettyfer, aliens became hot in the Lorien Legacies.

The latest trend which has been around for the past two years now is all about imagining what our world could be like in the present and consequently in the future, a la, the dystopian novel. The novel which launched this YA genre has got to go to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Edward and Jacob became replaced by Peeta and Gale. I can’t remember a time when this well written book wasn’t in the top 10 of the Amazon book charts, which makes sense by the fact that the novel was on the USA Today’s best-seller’s list for a staggering 135 consecutive week before the film was released in March 2012. Now vampires are taken a back seat whilst the likes of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series take centre stage.

Now what are we expecting to see for the YA generation in 2013? Is there going to be a raid of erotic fiction for the younger generation? I hope to God not! As we can see the path of YA fiction has gone a long way; we started off with autobiographical attempts and we have ended with futuristic sci-fi, far from our world experiences. It seems that young adult fiction is less about connecting with the audience from an emotional this-is-what-you-life-is-like state, and instead authors are now trying to separate their worlds as far away as possible from real life and give teenagers a fantasy adventure. I believe that this course of action is going to continue; we are going to keep gaining novels on the future of our lives and what could be, but I also think there is going to be more on what could have been. Historical fiction has always been floating under the horizons and I believe eventually they will become more predominant. I also believe that there will be continuing representations of real life contemporary literature as it’s important that there are novels about the ordinary experiences of teenagers to connect with, and with such authors as John Green creating phenomenal works, I believe this will only improve. There could also be the rise of the mystery novel; with Sherlock hooking the UK and such awesome series as Ally Carter’s Pretty Little Liars, I think teenagers want more of these thrillers to puzzle and guess over.

What has been your favourite genre of YA fiction? What genre of books do you predict 2013 will bring?