Posted by: Katie B | October 10, 2012

YA Mafia Book Review



In my post “The YA Mafia“, I set up a reading challenge for myself.  Objective:  Read one book from each of the so-called YA Mafia authors.  Purpose: To see if the authors were really that good.  Conclusion:  Yup.  They’re that good.

What struck me in particular about this reading list was how diverse these books were.  Each one had a unique, fresh voice.  Even when some themes were repeated (like magic) the plot, perspective, and delivery were all so different.  I’m finding this to be a common thread amongst YA novels which is lacking in other genres.  The originality.  Take a look at the list below.  You’ll lose a couple of days of your life in this.

Comment on the Mafia thing:  There was a lot of dispute and backlash over whether a YA Mafia truly existed.  After I’d written my post,  I had the chance to meet one of the so-called Mafia authors, Holly Black.  I have to say, I’ve never met someone more interested in helping you create the best book you possibly can.  This girl loves what she does, and she loves to help others.  And she’s good at it.  She mind-warped me – in fifteen scant minutes – and pulled out the key issues in my book that no one else had ever been able to put their finger on.  After meeting with her, I’m even more convinced that there isn’t a YA Mafia, as in a group of people who can kill your career if they don’t like you.  But I’d definitely say there’s a tight-knit group of extremely talented and generous authors who help each other achieve success.  I’m lucky to have had the chance to meet one.

And now to the books:

Blue is for Nightmares and White is for Magic by Laurie Faria Stolarz.  Young Adult.  Reading these books made me wish I’d grown up with a wiccan grandmother, teaching me the ways of the natural world.  As it is, I’ll have to settle for managing my composter.  Magic in this book is treated like a learned craft, practiced by those with a gift.  The author has a nice touch with the subject matter, blending the real and the surreal into a boarding school mystery / who-dun-it.  Definitely a page turner.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.  Young Adult.  I feel like every time I pick up a YA Novel these days, I’m in for a surprise.  This book was no different.  It’s a story of the afterlife, told in a way I’d never considered.  I don’t want to risk spoiling your ‘oh-interesting’ moment for you, so I’ll give no more information. However, I’ll admit – I shed a tear.

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier.  Young Adult.  Another book about magic, yet different enough from others I’ve read that it stands on its own.  The main character, in particular, fascinated me and the first few chapters had to be read without stop. That being said, the underlying theme of magic as a curse reminded me of Holly Black’s White Cat.  Although, I think Justine’s book came out first…

ttyl by Lauren Myracle.  Young Adult.  Well, I wish I’d thought of this one.  Have to give her a lot of credit.  The first book written totally in instant messages.  It’s all dialogue – no exposition or description – and it works.  Didn’t think it was going to at first…took a page or two to figure out how to read it…then finished it in a day.  The style and content dovetail together to make the story even more dynamic.  And real.  Like reliving high school all over again.  Reminded me of the open and fully divulgent way my high school friends and I used to share information.  Take note – this book isn’t for your younger YA readers.  Some content is a little…YA.

Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski.  Young Adult.  This was a fun book.  Fun, fun, fun.  The content is PG as well, so the younger YA set can read it.  What struck me right away was the main character’s voice.  Strong, clear, consistent, all the way through.  From now on, whenever editors lecture on that ever-elusive “voice”, they should read from this book.  I definitely lost myself in her – made those bad decisions right alongside her – and cringed, horrified and indignant, at the outcome.

Dramarama by E. Lockhart.  Young Adult.  If you were ever part of the drama, theater, art scene, then this book is for you.  I knew, at some point in my life, every single one of the characters she created.  I believe I might have lived some of the moments in this book.  Amazing that she could pull the drama-kid experience together with just the right amount of tension and melodrama.  So believable.

Paper Towns by John Green.  Young Adult.  I wish John Green had been creating YA novels back when I was a YA.  Such a smart, thoughtful book.  He doesn’t water down his style or the sophistication of his writing because of the “younger” market.  Adults, young or old, can relate to the journey described inside and might learn a thing or two about themselves in the process.

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