Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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

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  • Tui Head, in reply to Cecelia,

    I think Margo Lanagan is awfully intense and definitely not for everyone. I thought Black Juice was really amazing, but mileage may vary.

    Books for boys - a bit of a mystery to me admittedly since other than my penchant for SF&F my tastes are pretty girly - but William Taylor & Davids Hill and Hair of the ones I already mentioned, and most of Fleur Beale's early stuff (it's pretty blatant in the covers, if you're looking in shops). Also Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant series) and Robert Muchamore (CHERUB series - a grittier version of the Alex Rider books) although they skew quite a bit younger, 8-12 instead of 12-16. (Although thinking about the CHERUB content... erm.) Older I struggle with. Mm, John Green, perhaps? Adam Rex. I would imagine that the majority of David Levithan's audience is girls, but young gay or questioning men might enjoy his work. Neil Gaiman is universally popular, try boys on the Graveyard Book. (I hate doing this because I sincerely believe that the old saw that girls will read books with male protagonists but boys won't read books with female protagonists is a self-fulfilling prophecy, not a neverending truth - really depends on the kids in question.) There's a really fantastic collection of short stories called Crossings, collected by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen and Tessa Duder, which is stories for teenagers by Australian and New Zealand writers, and which I would recommend to any teenager keen on realistic fiction. I personally prefer not to financially support Orson Scott Card, but Ender's Game is very popular for precocious boys and girls. Right now I'm reading Going Bovine by Libba Bray which I imagine would appeal to boys.

    The other piece of conventional wisdom about boys reading is that quite often boys prefer nonfiction over fiction, and it's important not to stress out about that - reading is reading is reading.

    Your very best bet with books for boys is to phone or visit or email a bookshop that specialises in children's and teen lit - John at the Children's Bookship in Kilbirnie, Wellington has a real bee in his bonnet about boys' books. So do a lot of children's librarians. I vacillate between being annoyed at the attention boys' reading gets and the generally gender-essentialist attitudes (I think that boys read less because they're socialised to read less, and the way to fix that is to change the way society raises boys, not throw a whole lot of books about rugby at the wall and hope that something sticks) and thinking that the idea that boys read less is quite overstated. The Hand Mirror linked to a piece about this recently. But all that's pretty academic when you're trying to get your own kids reading, I'm thinking.

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

  • Tui Head, in reply to Lilith __,

    Lilith said:

    Tui, I must totally be living under that rock! :-)

    I should clarify that by noting that I spend most of my time in a rarified circle of people who spend a lot of time reading and talking about YA fiction - as Karen mentions, the YA blogosphere is super intense, very smart, has an incredible social conscience ... and books tend to get spread around like measles. So people who I think are extraordinarily well-known, erm, probably aren't (whereas no-one I know personally has even posted a review of Freedom yet!)

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    <i>surely there must be heaps more women writers of brilliant science fiction.</i>

    Of course there are - Jo Walton, Cherie Priest, Mary Robinette Kowal, Nalo Hopkinson, off the top of my head...

    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).

    That they are, but I'd strongly recommend reading them in order -- towards the end, Baker had a lot of narrative balls (and a cast of dozens spread over several million years) in the air and not a lot of time to hand hold noobs.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Baker had a lot of narrative balls (and a cast of dozens spread over several million years) in the air and not a lot of time to hand hold noobs.

    Off topic, a bit, but this is what I'm realising by skipping several of Iain M. Banks Culture novels, and reading the latest two in quick succession. Noobiness abounds, and not a hand, virtual or real, in sight. They do stand alone pretty much, but some of the astro-political nuances can be a bit challenging.

    Sheez, once you all get going on Jolisa's blogs, the reality of the mountains of books before me becomes quickly overwhelming, and feel compelled to crawl back under that rock of which you speak. Intimidating, much?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to recordari,

    Sheez, once you all get going on Jolisa’s blogs, the reality of the mountains of books before me becomes quickly overwhelming, and feel compelled to crawl back under that rock of which you speak. Intimidating, much?

    Honey, if I listened to all the music, and read all the books, and watched all the films/tv that is recommended here? I would never leave the house. So I find it's much easier to occasionally watch a youtube thing that someone's posted. Helps that I don't do science fiction, though. Imagine.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Intimidating, much?

    I hope not -- one thing I'm always trying to do as a reader is be self-aware of how easy it is as a reader to never stick your nose out of the comfort zone of familiarity (be it authors or genres). There's never going to be enough time to read everything worth the effort, even though I'm a big fan Sturgeon's Law that 99% of everything is crap. But this observation, from Henry James' preface to the New York edition of Portrait of a Lady, also holds true:

    The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million--
    a number of possible windows not to be reckoned, rather; every
    one of which has been pierced, or is still pierceable, in its
    vast front, by the need of the individual vision and by the
    pressure of the individual will. These apertures, of dissimilar
    shape and size, hang so, all together, over the human scene that
    we might have expected of them a greater sameness of report than
    we find. They are but windows at the best, mere holes in a dead
    wall, disconnected, perched aloft; they are not hinged doors
    opening straight upon life. But they have this mark of their own
    that at each of them stands a figure with a pair of eyes, or at
    least with a field-glass, which forms, again and again, for
    observation, a unique instrument, insuring to the person making
    use of it an impression distinct from every other. He and his
    neighbours are watching the same show, but one seeing more where
    the other sees less, one seeing black where the other sees white,
    one seeing big where the other sees small, one seeing coarse
    where the other sees fine.

    Never hurts to be reminded there are always other voices, other rooms, and other windows with a fine prospect you've probably never seen before.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I would never leave the house.

    I had started to wonder why I don't get out much lately. ;-)

    Helps that I don't do science fiction, though. Imagine.

    ...all the people, living in outer space-eee!

    ETA:

    Never hurts to be reminded there are always other voices, other rooms, and other windows with a fine prospect you've probably never seen before.

    Hear, hear!
    Yes, I shall continue to read my two Roman detective series with impunity.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    At least now I can read my trashy Roman detective series with impunity.

    Would that be Marcus Didius Falco or the more serious (but still wonderful) Gordianus the Finder? Down these mean strade...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Would that be Marcus Didius Falco or the more serious (but still wonderful) Gordianus the Finder? Down these mean strade...

    Too fast , Mr Ranapia.

    Both, as it happens. ;-) The Falco series has so many wonderful characters, have really enjoyed them, and Roman Sub Rosa has been a good way to revisit Roman Imperial history, while being too lazy to actually study it.

    Somehow we missed Falco's Alexandria, and will have to remedy the situation soon.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    One other female SF writer deserving a mention would be Pat Cadigan.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    There were lists on Bookman Beattie that included "Night" by Elie Wiesel as a bestselling download for *YA readers" -bloody hell!

    Indeed - I remember reading a biography of Dodie Smith, and how she was somewhat alarmed (but gratified) to be getting fan letters from teenage girls who adored I Capture The Castle. Wonderful wonderful novel, but she never sat down and wrote a novel for "YA readers" but a novel with a 17 year-old protagonist.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Tui Head,

    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.

    Sorry to sully the highbrow discussion, but my 12yo boy reads Stephen King and is hanging out to read The Omen when he's '(much) older'. How worried should I be? I've tried gentle redirection (short of book burning), but haven't had much luck. He recently put down De Goldi's 10pm Question after a chapter or two, don't think he related much to fanatical Frankie.
    Please advise.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Sorry to sully the highbrow discussion, but my 12yo boy reads Stephen King and is hanging out to read The Omen when he's '(much) older'. How worried should I be?

    Purely on the grounds of David Seltzer's functional illiteracy and leering sadism, I would issue a papal anathema. I'd shove Clive Barker's The Thief of Always and Gaiman's The Graveyard Book under his nose and take it from there. Both well-written, scary (in all the right places) but not morally cretinous and have young male protagonists. Of course, I must issue the standard caveat -- you know your child, and his reading level and emotional maturity, infinitely better than I do.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to sally jones,

    Sally - Gaiman's Sandman comics might be a nice transistion from King (who lauds the work in one edition's volumes, which can't hurt).

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Almost-snap. I was too thinking Barker.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    For some local (well, down-under anyway) books I can recommend Justine Larbalestier. Her Magic trilogy was quickly devoured by our resident young adults.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Sally – Gaiman’s Sandman comics might be a nice transistion from King (who lauds the work in one edition’s volumes, which can’t hurt).

    I love Sandman, but I found some of the content disturbing enough at eighteen, let alone twelve. I really wouldn't recommend it for that age. Some of Gaiman's other work, maybe, but not Sandman. Although I personally find comics violence more disturbing than book violence, so.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Although I personally find comics violence more disturbing than book violence, so.

    Yeah, that makes no sense, since books are so much thicker and heavier. You wouldn't get a lot more than a paper cut fom a comic.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Anne M,

    I shall trot in to Bruce McKenzie Bookseller and get a copy for my 12 year old - who reads both Gordianus the Finder AND the Warrior Cats

    I hope you're getting a cut of the action Jolisa

    Since Nov 2006 • 104 posts Report Reply

  • Chad C Mulligan,

    What! No Mary Gentle? She puts those bloody hobbits in their place i can tell you.

    Sally - H P Lovecraft and Robert E Howard. Might as well get him started on the classics early and then at least he can see where every other bugger steals from.

    Currently in exile, plott… • Since Sep 2009 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Thanks once again Jolisa- for a great and entertaining review, and just in time for Christmas. Since I want to read it myself, it'll have to be a family member :)
    Totally agree much of the best writing today is in YA category. I think one reason is most literary fiction is scared of 'too much emotion.' It's all so ironic and self-referential not only do the basics of story get lost, but the basics of emotionally connecting to a story go west as well. Strenuous efforts to avoid the sentimental seem to suck all sentiment out.
    You don't get that in YA (or romance, I suppose, though I'm not able to comment knowledgeably.) Give me a bit of teary-eyed sentimentality over dry-as-bones cleverness any day.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Yeah, that makes no sense, since books are so much thicker and heavier. You wouldn’t get a lot more than a paper cut fom a comic.

    Dunno, have you seen some of the collected editions?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Yeah, that makes no sense, since books are so much thicker and heavier. You wouldn't get a lot more than a paper cut fom a comic.

    You could kill someone with this.

    Usagi Yojimbo is a really wonderful boy-friendly comic book -- the kind of comix crack a youngling might even accidentally learn something off. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    With reference to woman sf authors, one must mention Joanna Russ.

    (In general, the Women's Press had an interesting sf imprint.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Whatever the emoticon is for refreshing the page avidly to see what new wisdom has arrived, goes here => .

    Tui, I may have to designate you honorary YA consul for PAS, if that's all right? You have the Knowledge.

    Meanwhile, I am pondering the merits of a comics-based defensive art. Like Ecky Thump, but with rolled-up comics instead of black pudding...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

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