Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: She loves you, YA, YA, YA!

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  • Islander,

    Love the interview, love the ideas! Will get "Guardian of the Dead" for many reasons, not least the incorporation of Maori mythology, and an asexual character (speaking as a real live asexual person, fictional depictions are waaaay too thin on the ground.)
    The idea that Aotearoa was first settled by non-human beings is a very old one- I've borrowed it myself, as did Gaelyn Gordon, but within my own tribe, we are very clear that the first settlers were Te Kahui Tipua - even Maui came later!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Ooo, I particularly love your posts about writers and writing, Jolisa, and I am delighted to be introduced to an awesome author I'd never heard of, whose work I will be checking out ASAP! And especially when she has such great hair. :-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3415 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Lilith __,

    Ooo, I particularly love your posts about writers and writing, Jolisa

    Yes, and I also really enjoy YA stories, particularly ones with fairies. So look forward to getting the first, and already anticipating the next.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I loooooooooooove YA. I don't think I've ever really moved on emotionally from reading The Changeover on the first night it was assigned for English in third form...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3628 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Anybody care to discuss what actually is* YA fiction*?
    There were lists on Bookman Beattie that included "Night" by Elie Wiesel as a bestselling download for *YA readers" -bloody hell!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Islander,

    Anybody care to discuss what actually is* YA fiction*?

    Hmm, a good question. Should 8 year olds be allowed to read YA titles? They do, but should they?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Why not? is my reply recordari- I was given free run of both my parents' smallish library and my Nanna's (smaller.) The very sensible rationale behind free rein was, She'll understand it,
    or she wont, & she'll ask about it.
    The point for me is the classification of books as YA - that can exclude a lot of readers - and, contrarily- include readers who arnt necessarily going to be ready to read the material offered.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Hmm, a good question. Should 8 year olds be allowed to read YA titles? They do, but should they?

    Kids should read whatever they're ready to read. If they're not emotionally ready for the kind of issues that start to appear in YA fiction, they'll get bored and leave it. If they are, they'll go mad being restricted to children's books. Our kids have always had free rein to graze our bookshelves, though occasionally I will direct them - my 13 yo has just started reading Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books.

    I think she would really like Guardian of the Dead from the sounds of this, and I shall be acquiring it for her.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Yes, we are just happy that they (our two 8 year olds) read without trying to dictate what. It was more a rhetorical question. As Islander says, the classification can put some people off. The 10pm Question is still one of my favourite novels in recent years. One I shall almost certainly re-read. Hardly seems worth trying to classify it. Then I also really enjoy Artemis Fowl, where the YA tag seems more appropriate.

    As to the twins, one just read Logicomix, and might not have fully grasped Betrand Russell's logic, but enjoyed the graphic novel part, and is now reading What Katy Did, and the other is reading The Baby-sitter Club series. I might have my preferences, but I try not to judge.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I suggest things I think my nine-year-old would enjoy (Artemis Fowl and Skullduggery Pleasant most recently) and generally choose the thing I'm reading aloud to him and his five-year-old brother (Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books currently) based on what I can sustain interest in. I sometimes choose to read aloud (rather than just hand over) books like the Narnia books that have great stories but also reflect values and ideas that I want to discuss with my kids as they encounter them. There's very little I would try to stop my kids reading and the stuff I would guide them away from would be based on knowing my kids and not on a particular age-rating.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Hooray for you lovely literate lot. I love all the responses here.

    I absolutely agree that children are their own best filters when it comes to figuring out what to read, when. Our resident bookfiend recently set aside a perfectly good Susan Cooper time travel book because the emotional themes were too mature and thus "boring". But he is currently powering across the ocean floor, several thousand leagues at a time, in the hands of the wonderfully mad Captain Nemo. The wacky steampunk illustrations probably don't hurt!

    (The Jules Verne is fodder for a school-mandated book report, which requires delivery via PowerPoint. I despair at the medium, but I'm also interested to see what he does with it.)

    Anybody care to discuss what actually is* YA fiction*?

    On my matitutinal constitional today, I listened to a great Books & Authors podcast in which Mariella Frostrup interviews three YA authors, all of whose books I felt moved to rush out and buy.* Their discussion of what constitutes "YA fiction" is super-articulate and interesting. Likewise the back and forth about their own reading histories, their inspirations, and what's at stake in these kinds of books. (It's the 21 November podcast on this page).

    *Note for Craig: the gorgeous Russell Tovey reads one of the novel extracts :-)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1410 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to recordari,

    I also really enjoy YA stories, particularly ones with fairies

    Fair warning: the main fairy in GOTD ain't no Tinkerbell :-)

    I found the Best Children's Books feature in this week's Listener very inspiring, bookshopping-wise. Being so far from the shelves of home, I lose track of who is publishing what, when, and it's a bit of a mission to get hold of things. What else have people read lately by NZ YA authors that they'd recommend to the rest of us? And YA authors from elsewhere, too, of course.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1410 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Jolisa,

    Fair warning: the main fairy in GOTD ain't no Tinkerbell :-)

    Sounds more like a recommendation than a warning. ;-)

    ETA: Today's canvas has a section called 'say it with a book'. The categories covered include;

    'Fiction' - nothing to see here.
    'Faith' - with a Dawkins and Jesus for the Non Religious. Irony?
    'Chick lit' - no, really, that's what they called it.
    'Teen Reads' - Little vampire women & Ross Kemp, Gang Lands Russia. Whatthe?

    No Karen Healey in sight.

    Groan.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I think a lot of adult readers are missing out on stuff they would really enjoy, although more and more of them are crossing over into the YA section, where they are very welcome.

    It’s sad that certain writers get classified as “genre” authors and never get mainstream recognition. I’ve recently discovered Josephine Tey, who is now long dead, but she wrote ‘detective novels’ that are so much more. Makes me wonder how many other brilliant writers are hidden on the “genre” shelves…

    I remember a discussion about Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, where someone commented that because of the age of the main characters it was marketed as YA fiction, whereas if it had been called ‘fantasy’, it would have got stuck in the sci-fi/fantasy shelves and it would have passed most people by. [The assumption being that more people read YA books than fantasy. I wonder if that’s true?]

    On the subject of science fiction, there’s a ‘100 science fiction classics’ list that’s been doing the rounds on Facebook, and as far as I can see it contains only 6 women authors: Mary Shelley, Ursula le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Margaret Atwood*, Connie Willis, and Julian May. To that list I can add Joan Slonczewski, author of the incredible A Door Into Ocean , and a friend mentioned Octavia Butler…but surely there must be heaps more women writers of brilliant science fiction. Who are they? If anyone can add to this paltry and inadequate list, please do!

    *Margaret Atwood famously maintains that she writes “speculative fiction”, because “science fiction” is about "talking squids in outer space"!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3415 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Lois McMaster Bujold writes very enjoyable sf and fantasy crossover that could almost in places work as YA. No talking squids, but lots of fun speculative technology used to highlight interesting themes. We meet her most famous protagonist Miles Vorkosigan at age 17 in The Warrior's Apprentice , and get to see some of the fun aspects of being young and obviously disabled in a hyper macho militaristic society. A few things here and there that I wouldn't care to explain to an eight year old in a lot of the books, but great for teenagers. Miles' mother Cordelia is an awesome character too, but her story is too adult to count as YA.

    Like Connie Willis, Bujold's won piles of awards but doesn't have the sales of the big popular hacks. Easier to find in libraries than bookstores in NZ.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 791 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    surely there must be heaps more women writers of brilliant science fiction.

    Willis is brilliant, and Butler should certainly be on that list. As, I think, should Marion Zimmer Bradley.

    Writing perfectly readable scifi: Elizabeth Moon and Catharine Asaro. Also Martha Wells, though that might be a bit 'soft' scifi.

    [The assumption being that more people read YA books than fantasy. I wonder if that’s true?]

    I wouldn't have thought so. And not subject to reverse snobbery: I don't know anyone who will only read YA.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Coming classic scific/fanatsy writer
    Justina Robson
    and classic scific/fantasy writer James Tiptree Jnr.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    Young adult fiction is a favourite genre of mine, so thanks for the review. Can't wait to read GOTD.

    Also found the Listener book page helpful - went a step below YA fiction to the "intermediate" category and have just finished "Trash" by Any Mulligan.Thriller - slum boys against the world. I enjoyed it but of course it was not as rich in detail as a YA book.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 508 posts Report Reply

  • Harry Musgrave,

    Other female SF writers I like:
    CJ Cherryh
    RM Meluch
    Maria Doria Russell

    Since Jul 2009 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Note that Lois McMaster Bujold has Warrior's Apprentice available for (legitimate) free download from the Baen Free Library.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 854 posts Report Reply

  • rodiolio, in reply to Lilith __,

    On the subject of women science fiction writers, Kage Baker's "Company" series is just brilliant. There's about nine in the series and I read all nine of them in the space of about two months earlier this year. (I was underemployed at the time).

    Whangarei • Since Dec 2010 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Tui Head,

    One of the interesting things about the increasing crossover market for YA genre fiction is, to my mind, the growing gulf between these kinds of crossover books (Neil Gaiman and Ms Scary Margo Lanagan are exemplary of the trope; also Sarah Rees Brennan, Holly Black, Suzanne Collins - although you've been living under a rock if you don't know these names) and the standard classic realistic fiction novels that were the bread and butter of YA and children's fiction for many years. I saw an interesting panel with Gaiman and Lanagan earlier in the year where they both insisted that they just write the books they want to write, and then their publishers classify it according to marketing and sales concerns. This is probably true but it does make the question "what is YA fiction" awfully vexed! Gaiman also spoke somewhat derisively of that maligned genre the problem novel, a category of fiction I personally will go to the trenches for. It's true that some problem novels (Go Ask Alice, the classic of the genre, leaps immediately to mind) are both didactic and simply bad. On the other hand, a great number of them, while not necessarily sophisticated in terms of their writing, are necessary books for teenagers - Fleur Beale, a great stalwart of New Zealand writing for teens, leaps immediately to mind; so does David Hill and to a lesser extent William Taylor. I worry that the increasing attention of the adult literary establishment means that the crossover novels are increasingly published while the problem novels languish in obscurity because readers simply grow out of them. Further Back Than Zero, a Beale classic about teenage alcohol abuse, just doesn't grip me anymore; but that by no means should reflect on its value for me as a teenager.

    Favourite New Zealand writers for young adults - I hate to see people ask a question like that and then see it languish! Classics like Gaelyn Gordon and Margaret Mahy have already been namechecked (I recommend Gordon's Stonelight and the really delightful Prudence M Muggeridge, Damp Rat; Mahy's Changeover, The Tricksters, and Catalogue of the Universe are unparalelled.) I would add William Taylor, David Hill, Ken Catran and Fleur Beale. Of these I think adults probably should only try William Taylor (__Beth and Bruno__ and The Blue Lawn. Although the latter has dated considerably) if they haven't read these people already. Newer writers are much harder because it's tough to guess who will last, but I really enjoyed the first book in David Hair's Ramayana-inspired trilogy, Pyre of Queens. (I haven't read his NZ trilogy but it seems to be popular.) Mandy Hagar is being read by that crossover audience. Fleur Beale's still writing! It's quite a lively genre, all things considered.

    @Emma:

    I wouldn't have thought so. And not subject to reverse snobbery: I don't know anyone who will only read YA.

    *puts up hand* Actually, I don't only read YA. But I am much, much more willing to give a YA book a go. Of course the time investment is much smaller (I can typically get through a YA novel in two to three hours, whereas an adult novel would take me perhaps ten, depending on the genre) and also I read a LOT of reviews of YA fiction which means my reading is extremely well-directed. But YA writers also let me down a lot less. Young adults are picky readers. It doesn't mean they always have the best taste (*cough*Twilight*cough*) but by and large both children and young adults are extremely intolerant of wasteful writing or writing that's playing around just to play around. Writing for young people often has a really astounding clarity about it (Sharon Creech, for example), or it's very well plotted (Suzanne Collins) because the writing that an adult reader would slog through in order to get to the occasional brilliant observation or wildly unpredictable murderer won't be tolerated by young adults. So writing for them is either non-stop brilliance (David Levithan, Diana Wynne Jones, Megan Whalen Turner, E L Konigsberg, Rebecca Stead, Katherine Paterson - basically, Newbery Award-winners) or non-stop fun. Perhaps this makes them more predictable reads, but to my mind When You Reach Me or Bridge to Terabithia are as fine a novel as has ever been written, and I don't have to waste my time to get it.

    Te Whanganui-ā-Tara • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    Mmm Problem novels - I was very fond of Kate Di Goldi's Sanctuary and her 10 pm Question was one of my favourite reads. Funnily enough I often fail to enjoy the books she recommends. I just don't get Margo Lanagan.
    The Changeover - ahhh, loved and admired that and agree with you about Prudence M Muggeridge, Damp Rat. Must reread Bridge to Terabithia.
    Can you recommend books for boys???
    And yes, for a short investment of time, one can get a wealth of entertainment and insight from YA novels. Have to admit I read Twilight on the basis of a Time article before the books became wildly popular and I enjoyed it. The books got sicklier as time went on ... but the way the author described girlish urges rang true with me - at the start anyway!

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 508 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Cecelia,

    Can you recommend books for boys???

    Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series has been a hit with our miss 'everyone thinks I'm a boy, and I like it'. Three of our extended family have a kind of 'book clique' developing around it where they send the books between Akl and Wgtn. All they need now is a blog.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Wow, the PAS hivemind comes up trumps yet again! Thanks for all the great suggestions everybody, I will be taking a long list to the library next time I visit!

    Oh and Harry: Mary Doria Russell, how could I have forgotten her. The Sparrow is a total sf classic!

    you’ve been living under a rock if you don’t know these names

    Tui, I must totally be living under that rock! :-) Great to have your recommendations, though. And your observation that good YA books are like adult novels that don’t muck around, that’s very true I think.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3415 posts Report Reply

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