Crossing Over: Teen Books for Everyone! | ALA 2013

Tod Davies Lily the Silent
I initially met Tod Davies in her capacity as the publisher and editor of Exterminating Angel Press, which presents books as singular and vibrantly imaginative as the books in her own “History of Arcadia” series. Snotty Saves the Day was the first in the series, and now we have Lily the Silent (Exterminating Angel, dist. by Consortium. 2012. ISBN 9781935259183. pap. $14.95), which relates the story of the first, reluctant queen of Arcadia, a land of joy, joy shattered, and joy rebuilt lying between four mountain ranges that don’t always protect it. Lily’s story, told mainly by Sophia the Wise, Arcadia’s current queen and Lily’s daughter, takes Lily from Arcadia to captivity in cruel and effete Megalopolis to her meeting with the handsome prince, though what lies beyond is not exactly happily ever after. A fairy tale, then, told in lush but specific language, that reminds seasoned readers to seize their destiny.

Anton DiScalfani, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
Anton DiScalfani’s The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls (Riverhead: Penguin Group USA. 2013. ISBN 9781594486401. $27.95) has likely already caught your attention and burned a hole right through it. It’s on the New York Times extended and NPR best sellers lists, it’s been proclaimed “this summer’s first romantic page-turner” by Michiko Kakutani, and it’s an Indie Next Pick and, I love this, a Southern Independent Booksellers Association Okra Pick, for a book representing outstanding Southern fiction. In fact it’s outstanding coming-of-age fiction, featuring a teenage girl from Depression-era Florida who is sent away to a combination school and riding camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains for an infraction with a boy that has her entire family, especially fraternal twin Sam, set against her. Thea immediately captures the imagination by being so tough-minded and honest with herself, even declaring “I was fearless. It was a trait that served me well in the ring, and badly in life.” Here’s a book for readers who expect a young woman’s sexual awakening to be related in fiercely passionate language and who will be glad to see that she finally lets no one but herself choose her destiny.

Darynda Jones, Death, Doom, and Detention
You will know Darynda Jones as the New York Times best-selling and Golden Heart and RITA award-winning author of the “Charley Davidson” series of paranormal romantic thrillers. If you’re astute, you’re already reading her new YA series starting with Death and the Girl Next Door (Griffin: St. Martin’s. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780312625207. pap. $9.99), which kept me up all night the day I received it in the mail. High school student Lorelei MacAlister, still coping with the blinding and mysterious deaths of her parents, is astonished that the hot new guy at school seems to be hot for her. He’s an angel, with a slight twist: he’s the Angel of Death sent to claim her, but he decides to shirk that little duty. As Lorelei’s story unfolds over this novel and the next, the just published Death, Doom, and Detention (Griffin: St. Martin’s. 2013. ISBN 9780312625214. pap. $9.99), another Angel joins the fray, Lorelei discovers her own powers, and mortal friends Brooklyn and Glitch add their own youthful aura and advice in a narrative that parallels the earth-shifting-under-your-feet tension of adolescence with real life-or-death issues. All told with suspense and that snarky cool language for which your adolescent is so well known.

Richard Kadrey, Dead Set
Richard Kadrey is the New York Times best-selling author of the Sandman Slim series, which will have a fifth title, Kill City Blues, this summer. His new YA novel, Dead Set (Harper Voyager: HarperCollins. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062283014. $22.99), features teenage heroine Zoe, who’s every bit as tough and intriguing as Sandman Slim. After the death of her father, Zoe and her unstrung mother have moved into a grubby city apartment, where Zoe finds peace by falling asleep and visiting her dream brother, Valentine. Then she runs across a shop called Ammut Records, where she discovers vinyl discs whose grooves hold not music but lost souls, and she realizes that she might be able to reach her father. But the cost is steep, and eventually she finds herself in an imaginatively and scarily wrought world beyond. This book was just featured in Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Novels for Fall 2013; just a little reminder that it was one of my Prepub Picks in early May.

Amanda Sun, Ink
Set in Japan, Amanda Sun’s debut novel, Ink (Harlequin Teen. Jul. 2013. ISBN 978373210718. pap. $9.99) is as intricate as the drawings that figure so largely in the action and is so beautifully and engrossingly rendered that despite 350 packed pages I read it mostly in one sitting. After the death of her mother, Katie Green moves to Japan to live with a well-intentioned if somewhat clueless aunt she doesn’t know well. Even as she struggles to fit in, Katie finds herself first in fierce opposition to and then fiercely attracted to Tomohiro, an edgily difficult boy at her school who’s prodigiously talented as an artist. The only problem is that Tomohiro’s drawings seem to move and, when Katie is around, they seem particularly stirred up; the ink even goes after her. Why this happens is as much your task to learn as Katie’s, and I won’t spoil the plot’s surprising twists and turns. Suffice it to say that our author has drawn on her time as an exchange student in Osaka and her training in archaeology to create a fantasy for everyone that’s very real.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.