Mira Grant, aka Seanan McGuire, is one of the few authors that I would probably run away from crying if I saw her at an event. Her Newsflesh books mean so much to me, and just last week as I was telling Christina about the series, I started to tear up just thinking about the powerful gut punch that it delivers.
One of the things I appreciate about both Newsflesh and her newest book Parasite is that although they’re adult fiction, the voice is very youthful and humorous, and there’s both an energetic quality to the plots and an immediacy of emotion that make them perfect crossover titles for YA readers.
So after an excitable Twitter conversation, I thought it’d be fun to ask Mira if she’d write a guest post for us on YA books she loves. Her books are so intelligent and well-plotted that I was curious about the books she found entertaining, and I was surprised at some of her recs and pleased by others (I totally recommended one to Mira fans in a review)! I think you’ll enjoy adding these to your TBR list–I know I did.
Guest posts are hard. You’re writing for an audience that doesn’t necessarily know you, and doesn’t know how to follow the verbal shorthand that every one of us develops, those little ways of saying “you know, like crunch without crunchberry” that means a hundred different little things. So you sit and you flail and eventually, if you’re me, you slam your head into the desk and few times and then go hide under the bed. You know, whatever works. But while I was under the bed I thought, wait. I just had my thirty-fifth birthday. Surely I can do something with that. So here, then, are my favorite YA books, from ages 5 through 35.
The very best book in the whole world, had you asked me when I was five, would have had to be Escape to Witch Mountain, by Alexander Key. I had enjoyed the Disney movie, and my mother thought the book was a junior novelization and bought it for me. It was actually quite different from the movie, but I was a very determined kid, and I worried my way through it. I’m pretty sure my passion for telepathic characters began with Tia.
When I was ten, I stumbled across a copy of Diane Duane’s amazing So You Want to Be a Wizard, and proceeded to spend the next year reciting the Wizard’s Oath in hopes that this would be the time when I got it right and the Light was listening. Diane Duane is currently updating these books to make them more accessible for a modern audience, and while I cling jealously to my originals, anachronisms and all, I’m also utterly delighted, because these are stories worth remembering.
Nancy Garden’s incredible lesbian love story, Annie On My Mind, probably holds the award for “non Stephen King book re-read with the most frequency during the year that I was fifteen.” This is another of those books that’s older now, but honestly holds up so well that it deserves to be reprinted and reread and remembered for as long as people need help loving the people they were meant to love. It’s beautifully written, and I have three copies, so that I can loan it out safely.
I was twenty in 1998, before the proper start of the modern YA Renaissance, but there were still books on the shelves, and some of them were amazing. Clive Barker’s Thief of Always frequently manages to get less credit than it deserves, being written by a horror author best known for ultra-violence and serious gore, but it’s really a sweet, YA coming-of-age story about Harvey Swick learning that he should enjoy what he has. Plus it has one of the best opening lines in history.
I went through a huge Diane Wynne Jones phase when I was twenty-five, acquiring and devouring everything she’d written, but I have to say that for sensitivity, consideration, and timelessness, nothing really trumps Fire and Hemlock, a gorgeous modern reworking of themes from many old English and Scottish ballads, including two of my favorites, “Tam Lin” and “Thomas the Rhymer.” It’s one of those books that reads better the second time, because you can think, rather than just being constantly surprised.
I am a sap. I am a sucker. I still have all my Princess Diaries books. And five years ago, Princess Mia brought it all home. I have no regrets.
So here I am today: I have grown up on young adult literature, and I find that it remains sensitive, thoughtful, and complicated. I don’t know yet what my favorite book of this year will be, but my recent favorites have been The Girl Who Traveled Under Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne Valente, Partials, by Dan Wells, and Croak, by Gina Damico, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry, and Birthmarked and Promised by Caragh M. O’Brien. And there’s so much more to come!
Here are some pictures of my bookshelves below, to give you an idea of what you can accomplish when you never stop bringing books home. For one thing, I’ve accomplished more than a few avalanches, over the years…
Thanks to our friends Orbit, one of our lucky readers will win a copy of Mira’s latest book.
Don’t forget you can earn additional entries by tweeting about the contest daily, or sharing on Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
Open to US and Canadian residents aged 18 and up, or 13 and up with parental permission. See complete rules on the entry form. Good luck!
Giveaway copy courtesy of the publisher (and thanks to my friend Karen for sending me an early ARC of the book as well!), and photographs are courtesy of the author.
About the Author
Seanan McGuire lives in a crumbling farmhouse on the West Coast, which she shares with a lot of books, horror movies, and creepy dolls, as well as her three improbably large blue cats (they’re secretly bonsai yeti that she pretends are Maine Coons and classic Siamese). When not reading too much and watching endless hours of television, she somehow manages to write and publish at least three books per year, which is a great argument for her actually being the advance scout for an invading race of alien plant people who will eventually eat us all. She does believe in product placement as a natural part of daily life, as evidenced by her omnipresent bottles of Diet Dr Pepper.
In 2013, Seanan released the second InCryptid novel, Midnight Blue-Light Special; the seventh October Daye novel, Chimes at Midnight; the second Velveteen collection, Velveteen vs. The Multiverse; and the first in her new series as Mira Grant, Parasite. She hopes to eventually publish a YA novel, just as soon as she gets a chance to breathe and talk her agent into it. There’s also a lot of short fiction floating around. You can keep track of Seanan‘s projects at www.seananmcguire.com.
Mira sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests that you do the same.
Our thanks to Mira Grant for sharing her YA recs with us! If you’re familiar with her books, do you have any YA suggestions for HER?
We think it’d be fantastic if she writes a young adult book someday, too. And by “fantastic” we mean we’ll be screaming–SCREAMING!–with excitement when this project is announced.