Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Contemporary YA-Y List

You might remember a few weeks ago I was neck deep in a mire of bitterness, cynicism and disappointment that isn't good for a reader (or a blogger at that).  I was reading more and more contemporary YA that wasn't fitting the bill.  I think I am pretty easy to satisfy, though some people might argue.

My needs are few:

  • a protagonist who is relatable, or at least empathetic in some minor light
  • avoidance of cliches, stereotypes and anything else that will make my eyes roll into the back of my head
  • a romance (if there happens to be one) that evolves instead of hitting with the unexpected force of a traffic collision
  • avoidance of teen speak or try-hard quirkiness.  
  • something to say about the human condition without being hit over the head with heavy handed 'issues'.
That's all.  

I don't think that's asking for too much...do you?

Turns out that my wish fulfillment was just turning the corner.  While I will be reviewing these books in the upcoming weeks, I wanted to tell you what I am currently gushing over.

Late to the party
I am still kicking myself.  Why haven't I been reading this lady's work the past year?  

Siobhan Vivian is the epitome of everything I want in a contemporary author.  Someone who realises there doesn't have to be a splash, just a lot of ripples.  I read Same Difference a month ago and have just received Not That Kind of Girl and A Little Friendly Advice in the mail.  I have demolished them all and have been raving like a loony (possibly Bieber-esque) fangirl ever since.  

My fangirl flag is waving with scary intensity.

Debut Awesomeness
Stephenie Perkins needs to write faster.  


After reading her debut Anna and the French Kiss I was hungry for more.  Not only did she have a romance that evolved but she accurately depicted what it is like to be living in a foreign country with all the fear, shyness and whoa-factor associated with it.  Siobhan was a late find so there were books to read.  In this scenario all I have is a long wait until Lola and the Boy Next Door is released in Fall 2011 .

My review for her debut will be up on PSnark tomorrow :)

Let's hear it for the boys...
Yeah, I used a Footloose reference...so sue me.  I have been making a concerned effort to read more male authored contemporary at the moment - it is an area of YA that I tend to neglect.  While John Green might fit some people's dude quota, it's good to stretch into someone else's XY chromosome authored goodness too.  I picked up Daniel Ehrenhaft's Friend Is Not A Verb while I was in NYC last month and loved how low key, introspective and genuinely quirky is was.

Aussie Aussie Aussie
Cath Crowley has been on the Australian YA radar for a few years but apparently bleeped in my blind spots.  It wasn't until the US release of A Little Wanting Song that I found out how beautiful her lyrical work is.  It has just made me all the more keen to get my hands on Graffiti Moon!

Flying patriotic flag with scary intensity!

Why have I chosen to highlight these four authors?  
1) they talked me off the edge of the bitter ledge with their delightfully crafted characters, and 
2) at this point of the year, all of them are gracing my top 10 releases of 2010.

Thank you for the many fantastic contemporary suggestions in response to my request for help - the suggestions continue to come and are creating one awesome list of to-reads. that continue to pour in.  I am feeling much more confident in contemporary now and I hope you can accept my apology for the month of rants.


Nomes said...

Oh - Graffiti Moon is so brilliant that I am flabbergasted for words. I hope you can find a copy of it somewhere :)

I am a contemporary girl too - and have read so many outstanding books lately in that genre - all Australian (have just read my way through the CBCA 2010 short-list and many of the long list).

I understand what you mean as after reading such genuine and deserving award winning stuff - the more commercial contemp just falls flat on it's face for me and doesn't cut it anymore.

i sometimes wonder at so many bloggers gushing over the latest contemp title (often a title on some sort of bog tour) and then I read it and often find it very generic.

Of course, being 30 and into the YA scene means I am slightly more critical than teens (I would imagine) and want more than just mediocre in my books.

I adore Siobhan Vivian too and am glad to see her become more recognised with her latest title getting some buzz.

Out of my Australian reads my latest favourites are:Raw Blue and Swerve and Jarvis 24 and Six Impossible Things and Good Oil and Loving Richard Feynman (and of course, Graffiti Moon - which reminds me ever so slightly of Beatle Meets Destiny with it's melbourne feel and male/female POV)

Brenny said...

I really liked 'Freak Magnet' by Andrew Auseon. Just another male author to add to the list.

Loretta Nyhan said...

Thanks! After typing this comment I'm heading over to Goodreads to add these titles.

(And thanks also for the list of things you'd like to see in YA contemporary. I think I'll print it out and post it next to my monitor!)

Angiegirl said...

Lol. Very relieved they talked you off the ledge.

I really can't wait to get my hands on ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

Carla said...

I agree on the Siobhan Vivian front! her writing is amazing and really does show you that it's the little things that matter and that a story doesn't have to be enormous for it to pack a decent punch. Love her!!

Edna said...

In the YA world, I'm very much a contemporary girl. I can get a little restless with books I find in the genre so I completely understand how you were feeling a few weeks ago. Thanks for introducing those authors, I've gotten two new authors I haven't heard of before.

Mari - Escape In A Book said...

Wonderful post, Adel. One thing I have thought about lately is the romance part, how people is madly in love and a couple within five seconds. It doesn't feel realistic at all.

I almost never read contemporary novels, but I really should try one.

Chachic said...

I'm looking forward to your reviews of these books! I really want to read Anna and the French Kiss!

Unknown said...

Oh after reading your list of requirements, I have to advocate Jaclyn Moriarty's books even harder, because they fit each and every single one of your simple needs! She avoids cliches like the plague (heh), the romances are sweet and funny and au naturel, and the protagonists--! Oh, her protagonists are all incredibly endearing and hilarious and eclectic and unique :)

Have you heard of the Book Smugglers blog? That's where I found out about her books, because one of the bloggers loved her books like crazy and persuaded me to read them based on the depth of her love for them :)


Kathryn from Schoolmarm Style said...

I really need to track down a copy of Friend is not a Verb! I need to add more male realistic fiction authors to my library.

Samantha-Ellen said...

I love the points you made and whole-heartedly agree. I think that perhaps, because I am not a teenager myself, I have also been just a little cynical and overly critical of a lot of the YA I've read this year. It's the nothing-female protaganists that get to me. And the gushing, can't live without him love after just one glimpse of chiselled jaw.

But then when I do read a YA author that 'gets it', it makes me appreciate them that much more. Some great titles and authors mentioned here, a few of which I will have to check out.