I used to be a high school English teacher and was always trying to recruit my students to the joys of reading. That was before the *massive* explosion of Young Adult (YA) blockbusters that now have made it one of biggest book markets globally. Nevertheless, in my quest for great reads, I do not ignore this genre–quite the opposite. From time to time, I will highlight GREAT authors and books that are YA, as I do here…
One of the funniest and best YA authors being published today is Maureen Johnson. She’s rather caught fire in the last few years; noticed both for her wonderful writing (one of her recent books was nominated for an Edgar), but also for her very funny Twitter feed. Her heroines are no one’s fool and have a sense of themselves. Here are two of her older books; one is a romp, the other has an unusual twist on a classic mythos. Both one-offs (not series) that I found particularly delightful and drove me to, yes, LOL.
Girl at Sea – This is a contemporary YA, sans fantasy, which give us Clio. Clio, an aspiring artist with her eye on the cute guy at the local art store, has a complex relationship with her father who is divorced from her mom. They were once super close—they even co-created a super popular game together that made the family briefly famous. But time and distance, and other things I won’t spoil, have distanced father from daughter. Until now: Dad wants Clio to come with him on a yacht that’s touring the Greek islands during during the summer. Sounds great, but when she gets there, she finds that she has a job—she’s the cook for trip. And she’s pissed. And also wondering what the hell is up. Her dad has a new girlfriend (maybe?) and what’s the purpose of this voyage anyhow? There’s another girl her age (fr-enemy? possible ally?) and one *very* cute but *very* crabby guy on the boat too. So intrigue, romance, and literal laughs out loud.
Devilish – This is a mostly contemporary, with a whiff of fantasy via sulfur. It is a spin-off of the Faust-myth. What would happen if your best friend, who is currently one of your school’s least popular girls, decided that it was worth selling her soul to the devil in order to become beautiful, rich and of course, insanely popular? What if you noticed that one of the school’s most popular girls wasn’t just unpleasantly bitchy, but perhaps had a Mephistopheles complex. And then what if this devil-teen-wearing-prada started to target you with her seductions of ultimate success in school, in life, with boys… all you have to do is come over to the dark side? Our heroine is strong and smart—smart as hell in fact! A match for what comes her way.