Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Guy's Take on Two YA Novels

I am not a professional critic. But I am authority on what moves me. These two novels moved me.

I recently picked up two YA novels: NYT Bestseller Kiersten White's Paranormalcy (her debut novel) and Stephanie Perkins's Anna and the French Kiss (also her debut).


I bought the Audible version of this book. My daily commute is un-fun, and listening to good books makes me a happy Ara. A bad book makes me an irritable Ara. I have limited time to partake in reading (or listening in this case) and writing. There is an additional dynamic when it comes to audiobooks... the narrator better rock or a good book will stink. This book and narrator nailed it!

The hook: a young woman who can see beneath the skin, and see people for their true paranormal selves (vampires, elfs, werewolves, etc). She is unique. And so is her perception of the world. Her innocence is captivating. The way she gets excited about the concept of a real high schools (not the ones she watches on TV shows) with 'real' lockers. I couldn't help but feel so much sadness and hope at the same time. When you are special--unique--you sometimes bypass life. The pleasures and joys that make you who you are are lost and maybe never recovered. And in the craziness of a fantastic plot is a story of love and hope. If we could look at the mundane elements of life with the exuberance that she has, then life will always be full and complete.

I found myself sitting in my idle car even after I had reached my destination. Or offering to go pick up something... but take the scenic route. Very few books make me do that... this one did.

My boys wanted to watch Peter Pan this past weekend. I popped the DVD and as I watched tinker bell, I couldn't help but realize that after reading this book, fairies will never be the same for me :) what do I mean, you ask? Get the book!

Anna and the French Kiss

What can I say. I am soooo mad at this book! As I've chronicled in the past, my passion for writing is limited by my "life". I don't have a lot of time--every minute counts.

I went to Borders to pick up the novel. They didn't have it--to add insult to injury, the twerp that I asked gave me a look like "Dude, you're not a young adult, nor a girl." well, I am a youthful adult, thank you very much, and 40 is the new 13, so bugger off, mate! I didn't say that (I should have). Instead, I gave him my "do you know who I am look." I've refined that glare over the years (age implies experience). He then offered to order it for me. I refused. Order it? That will take days or something. I need instant gratification. I was seeing all the tweets going back and forth about this novel. I needed it now.

I walked out and something was glowing in my car... my iPad. It spoke to me and when I looked, iBooks had it. Couple of clicks later, I was the proud owner of the book. I was stylin' now. After we had dinner and the kids were starting to doze off, I leaned back and started reading. 

Wow! I mean, come on!

This story totally and completely took me back to my youth in Barcelona. I remember those days with such fondness and this story nailed the feelings, confusion, and passion. I felt like the story was written for me. Even the reference to the snow in Paris!

[Ara's Tangents]: Last January when I was there on business, it was snowing, and I asked my staff, "Is it supposed to snow in Paris?" One of them was confused as he sipped his espresso. "Of course not. We get cold, rain, but snow... That's a sign of Apocalypse!"

View from my hotel room
The hero and heroine are fantastic. The cast is exceptional, and Anna--her voice--is still in my head. I used to scratch my head when I would read an agent say that they are looking for a fresh voice. Now I get it. This story has it all, and if you still remember those teenage years, there is no way that you will not find your story written in these pages. 

So why am I upset? Because I couldn't put the stinkin' book down! I was supposed to work on my new manuscript now that I'm about to send out my first novel to agents. 

But. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down!

If not for the fact that I wake up each day at 5 AM, have a demanding career, and we have two boys (thunder and lightning) that drain all life energy we have, I would have finished it in one sitting. 


Like I said, I am not a professional critic, nor is this an attempt to give a complete pros and cons view of these two novels. It's really simple: I have become a fan of these two amazing writers and I can't wait for future books to hit the shelves (audio, eBook, or paper... it matters not!).

There is one constant in these two novels for me. I miss the characters. I want to hear them again, and see what happens next. 

Kirsten White's NY Time Best Seller Paranormalcy is book one of three. Book two, Supernaturally should be a blast. I can't wait. I hope the audio version is done by Emily Eiden again. The first time she called Lend a "Dork!" I nearly drove off the 405 freeway! 

In the case of Anna, it's probably best that we let our imagination, and our hopes play out the rest of her life. Stephanie Perkins will release her second novel in the Fall of 2011 -- Lola and the Boy Next Door. Lola, you say? Spain? Brazil? Argentina? 

Please do us all a favor. Buy these books right away. Read it. Share it. Let's support the one thing that can truly transport you to another place and time.

Selfish Question: Please let me know of other YA books that are as honest and touching. I'm looking forward to Across the Universe by Beth Revis in January. Leave a comment, send me an email, call me. 

Ara Wants Information. Now! I'm giving you my "do you know who I am?" look!

Now, I better get to my stuff! Gemma and Andre are feeling neglected :)


  1. Oh, excellent taste! I love both of these books! Two of my top reads of the year!

  2. I love the reaction of the person in the store. I have found that bookshops tend to judge you on your choice and its frustrating... so we are left to buy books on ipads and online.

    Either way, great review... will be picking these up :)

    Kris (new follower)


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