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Short YA Book Reviews

August 8, 2013

A bunch of YA I’ve read over the past few weeks

Steel
Carrie Vaughn
HarperTeen 291 pages
After an infuriating loss in an epee tournament, Jill goes on vacation with her family to the Bahamas. And sulks, still grumpy over the loss that cost her Junior Olympic trials. But a broken, rusty sword blade she finds transports her back in time. To a pirate ship, headed by a fierce lady captain, Marjory Cooper.
Fencing! Time travel! Historical fiction! Fierce women fighting and being heroic! Even some magic! Also, a really fun ensemble cast! This was great fun.

Fangirl
Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Griffin 416 pages
September 2013 (review copy obtained at BookExpo)
Twins Cath and Wren are heading to the same college, but, for the first time in their lives, they’re not going to be sharing a room. The adjustment is particularly hard on Cath. Cath feels in the Internet world where she and fellow fans of the Simon Snow series of fantasy novels write fanfiction, but in the real world of confusing classes, and navigating relationships? Not so much. When I first heard about this book at the Book Expo, I just about fell out of my chair wanting to read it, and it lived up to those expectations. (My friend Hillary stayed up all night reading it, and I very nearly did.) I confess to some familiarity with various tropes of fanfiction as a genre, and with the conventions of fandom as it plays out on blogs and social media, and that’s all I am going to say about that on a blog that my parents, classmates, and sometimes employers have read. Ahem.
Anyway, the way the book portrayed fanfiction was one of the things I liked. I was completely ready to believe in Simon Snow as compelling fan canon (bearing absolutely no relationship to Harry Potter at all. Right.) There were a few moments where Cath had to explain fanfic to college friends- her explanations of fanfic and slash, her feelings about it, and their reactions, rang true.
I also liked the way Wren and Cath had to work on adjusting to college, and how the relationships with roommates and friends on campus were formed, and had to be renegotiated as they developed.

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