Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shorter Musings: YA Realistic Fiction

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some Realistic YA books I have read recently with my thoughts.

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
Belle Epoque is excellent historical fiction about an era of history we don't get much (any other?) YA historical fiction about, Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Ross does a brilliant job of bringing the time and city to life. She uses just enough French to make it feel authentic without overwhelming the reader who knows nothing about French. (me) The emerging middle class and the beginnings of feminism are both highlighted and played out well. I did feel like the characters were little more than words on the page. I was rather hoping for a better story of friendship between two girls, but I found it difficult to care too much for either Maude or Isabelle. That could be because I knew that Maude was going to see everything come apart before too long. I do like the way Ross set up so well the reasons why someone would be tempted into Maude's line of work. The ending was just a bit too perfect for my personal tastes as well with everyone getting what they want but the "bad" people. It is a fun story though and one that does justice to the time it is set in.

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
This is a contemporary high school reworking of Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I did the author's reworking of Mansfield Park, The Trouble with Flirting (my thoughts). The characterization here was a little weak. I had to rely too much on projecting what I knew of Elizabeth and Darcy from the original onto these characters to make them rounded out. It is a fun romantic tale that I think most people would enjoy as a fluffy read, but that is all it is. I was sort of disappointed because there was more to The Trouble with Flirting than that and I was hoping that would be the case here as well. 

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
I will be perfectly honest: I skipped and skimmed through a good deal of the middle of this. There was a lot of detail about Elise learning to DJ and I just didn't care. The problem was I didn't care about Elise, I think. There is nothing wrong with the writing here, and I'm sure the book will speak to many people. It didn't work for me though. I do think Elise's voice is genuine. But between her pretentious, judgmental attitude about other people's music, the obnoxious boy, and the manic pixie dream friends who help Elise find her passion, there were too many things standing in the way of my liking this even a little. I read an e-galley received from the publisher, Macmillan, via NetGalley. This is available for purchase on September 17.

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