Scheherazade + The Wrath & the Dawn

This is a lovely series wrapped in an equally as gorgeous red and blue covers respectively. The story is a retelling of 1,001 Arabian Knights, the young Caliph takes a new bride whom is killed each morning – as required by the original story – but not all is as it seems and as the narrative unfolds you begin to understand how much more is at play. Shahrzad volunteers to be a bride and as a reader you follow, through her eyes, the story. At times, she can be so irritatingly naive, and other times she is fearless and pursues justice with an almost Batman-like zest.

I would highly recommend these two books both for the narrative and for the beautiful covers.

Between the two books I was able to attend an arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, a sweeping orchestral piece based on 1,001 Arabian Knights. It’s big, heaping with drama, and plays with tension like any good story should – the characters shine through and you can almost feel their frustration or fear.

If you are able to listen to music while reading, I think pairing Scheherazade with these two stories could be very interesting… granted you have to be talented enough to multitask, a skill I have not yet mastered.

Best of luck if you decide to try this pairing – please let me know how it goes!

The Fault in Our Stars

I AM ALIVE! I’m sorry that I dropped off the face of the earth for a while… I’m back though! I probably should have reviewed a book or something for my first official post after a month, but instead I wanted to share a movie trailer. Not just any movie, mind you – it’s The Fault in Our Stars by John Green! So exciting!
I originally read this book a few years ago when it was released. At the time, it was the first of John Green’s books and it kick-started my minor-obsession with everything he’d written – Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Let it Snow (a collection of related short stories written by different authors revolving around the same town in Christmas – a really cute read around the Holidays), Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars. I think, after reading everything, The Fault… is still my favorite: I adore the sweet, funny and philosophical way the story and characters evolve and interact throughout the novel. It’s a genius book that reveals the tragic realism of life.
I really hope the movie does the book justice!

What is YA?

I was looking at my bookshelves the other day, and I’ve got quite a few YA books which got me thinking – what is YA?  There are many poorly defined categories but nothing hold a candle to how poorly clarified as “young adult” or teen fiction.  What the heck is teen fiction?  How is that defined? What makes a YA book different than any other book?  And, really, defining a young adult novel is very subjective – what one person calls teen another might not.  There are no clear rules, no cut and dry answers in defining what a book is, but there are some general elements most people will agree are needed to classify a YA novel.

First, it’s a category NOT a genre.  YA is a classification and there are many genres that exist within the broad boundaries: YA science fiction, YA romance, YA dystopia (really a sub-genre but whose getting that specific?), YA realism.  The list goes on.

Second, when looking to identify a YA novel consider the audience.  I’ve referred to this category as YA/young adult/teen fiction for a reason – the main audience is teen, 12-18, that does not mean you can’t read a YA book if you’re 28.  According to this study approximately 55% of YA readers are not in that target audience, not reading a book just because of where it’s shelved is one of the stupider reasons I’ve heard in a while.  Basically, the YA audience is 12-18 but anyone who wants to read a YA book should.  Really that’s about it – the one generally accepted qualifier for this category.

There’s a much longer list of what YA is not.  YA is not giggly romance.  YA is not (just) John Green (much as I love him there is a much wider variety).  YA is not just for girls.  YA is not crummy writing (although the category has its fair share).  YA is not just Twilight and the Hunger Games.

I know that’s an incredibly broad definition for a category but I did say in the beginning that YA is very subjective.  Some people will argue that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a YA book because it tells a classic coming of age story for a young adult, while others will argue that while Francie (the protagonist) falls in the “teen” age group the book is geared towards adults and therefore not a YA book.  I wish I could draw a line in the dirt clearly defining what is and what isn’t YA but I don’t think that can be done for this category.