Category: Young Adult


I was drawn to this new young adult novel for several reasons:

To begin with, the cover caught my eye.  It’s true that you should never judge a book by it’s cover, however a well-constructed and designed book cover will always lead browsers to pick it up and at least read the back.  A good start in getting read!

Secondly, I was intrigued by the concept for the story – that the characters of three of the best known romantic poets of the early 19th century should be transposed into contemporary high school students.

Also, Ty Roth was a new name to me (turns out So Shelly is his debut novel) and it’s good to read authors who are either new to you or new to being published.

I enjoyed this novel very much, though initially I was skeptical about whether I would stick with it when I thought the whole novel was going to consist of teenage angst about death and dying.  However, Roth neither sensationalises nor dwells on this topic even though it is one of the main components of the story.  John Keats is our narrator who intersperses the tale of his friend Shelly, whose funeral is the opening scene for the book, with the task given to him and Byron by their deceased friend.  Keats and Byron have been charged with the task of appropriating Shelly’s ashes and scattering them at the scene of her death – and so this relatively unlikely premise begins.

There were sections of this novel that, while entertaining seemed superfluous to the main story, until I read the afterword in which Roth explains how he cleverly weaved real-life events into the plot and setting for each character.

Overall, a very polished debut.  I will look out for further novels by Ty Roth. Give So Shelly a read and see if you find it as satisfying as I did.

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I am a big Jennifer Donnelly fan, especially her young adult novel A Gathering Light and so I was very keen to read her latest offering, Revolution which lived up to expectations.

This novel is set in two time periods.  It begins in contemporary New York following Andi’s story as she deals with the tragic death of her younger brother.  Wracked with guilt in her percieved part in her brother’s death and struggling to see the point in going on with her life, Andi finds herself reluctantly in Paris with her father.  Enter the second component to this story.  Andi becomes involved in her father’s purpose for being in Paris, which is to discover scientifically whether the small human heart contained in the glass urn is in fact that of Louis Charles, son and heir to French King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

As Andi sets out to discover the truth about Louis Charles she is somehow transported back to the time of the French Revolution and becomes Alexandrine, a girl of her age, desperately trying to save Louis Charles from his fate.

Donnelly, through her scene-setting and character-developing skills, will draw you Revolution and won’t release you until the very last page.  Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and as with all good historical stories, it made me want to set about doing some of my own research into the facts behind the story.  You can go to Jennifer Donnelly’s website to read her inspiration for writing this novel http://www.jenniferdonnelly.com/rev_inspiration.html. Fascinating stuff, and highly recommended.

Imagine the Gulf Coast of America, somewhere in the near future, where the ravages of hurricanes, the like of which we’ve never experienced is now the norm. Oil is so scarce there is no longer a need for oil tankers and they are now just left abandoned at the mercy of the scavenger crews that inhabit the area.

Now imagine a crew of children, small enough to fit through the service ducts in these hulking ships, who are sent into the bowels to strip the copper wire, which can then be sold for top dollar on the black market, and who are then discarded when they become too big to do the dark, dirty and dangerous work.

In Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi provides just such a setting for his first foray into young adult literature.  This, however is not just a novel for young people.  It is well written, attested to by being a US National Book Award finalist and the winner of the Michael L. Printz award and is a complex tale of the haves and the have-nots and what people will do to get what they want.

Through the main character of Nailer, a teenage boy with no mother and a violently addicted father, his interactions with others, his quest to better himself and the choices he makes along the way speaks about the human condition and what we would be capable of, if pushed.

Read it.  You won’t regret it.

And then if you want to know more about this talented author, you might like to read an interview with him in YALSA – The Hub, your connection to teen reads from March of this year. http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2011/03/25/author-interview-paolo-bacigalupi/