Reading Recommendations – YA Series

There are four series of books that come to mind when I think of authors who have influenced my desire to be a writer.

The Twilight Saga – Stephenie Meyer

twilight-seriesThe Twilight Saga gave me back something that I lost for a few years, my love of reading. I watched the movie first, and even though I love them now because they stem from the books, back then, I wondered what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t see the attraction that many people claimed the books had, so I decided I needed to go to the source and read the book for myself. I sat up until 4:00am that first night. There was something about Bella and Edward’s young love that took me back to the time I was young and fresh and innocent. I came to the series late, so the next day when I went back to the store, I was able to buy the rest of the books in the series. I devoured them. I gave them to my friends, who looked at me a little dubiously, but called me later, cursing me for their lack of sleep. So Twilight brought back my love of reading, which, in turn, brought me to begin writing.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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As a reader, I never took much notice of writing styles. A good book was a good book. I didn’t know what attracted me to the story, just that I liked it. I read without noticing the manner in which a story was told. Past tense, present tense, first person, third person, sentence structure and flow meant nothing to me, but Hunger Games changed this. Suzanne Collin’s wrote with a simplicity that kept me spellbound, and I had to find out why. It was a difficult one to recommend, though. Most conversations went something like this.
“I’ve just finished this great book. You should read it.”
“What’s it called?”
“The Hunger Games. It’s brilliant.”
“So, what’s it about?”
Here, I would usually pause and try to think of the easiest way of saying it without it sounding so brutal. But there was no other way to put it. “Ah, it’s about these kids killing each other in a reality TV-style show, ordered by a sadistic futuristic government.” At the dubious looks that statement received, I would usually add, “Just read it. Trust me.”

Gone Series – Michael Grant

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The Gone Series by Michael Grant is a little easier to recommend than the Hunger Games, though possibly more gruesome. It’s about a town where all the kids, fifteen and under, suddenly find themselves alone, cut off from the rest of the world by a giant dome. No adults. No supervision. No idea of what happened to the older members of their families. And then they start to develop powers. Some of them use these powers for good. Others do not. It can get rather brutal at times, but the characters and story development kept me glued.

The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater

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I have just received my copy of the last book in this series. I’m waiting for someone to offer to take over my life for an entire day so I can put everything aside and dedicate myself to delving into this delicious book, but I don’t see it happening. And by delicious, I really do mean delicious. Maggie’s use of words is magical. There is no other way to put it. I first came to love her for The Scorpio Races, but the Raven Cycle series is even better. Probably because there is more; four books, instead of one.
So there you have it. My YA series reading recommendations, well, the ones that influenced me the most, anyway.

Have you read them?
Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.
What are your YA series recommendations?

 

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Behind the Glass | Dreaming | Characters

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Names. That seems to be the question asked most when discussing the characters of my novels. How did you choose the names? Why did you choose the names?
Until I found the recent document of my first attempt of writing the story, I believed Willow was always Willow. This was the name she came with and the one I couldn’t change. (If you care to read the first few words I wrote on the story back in 2010, click here. As you will see, Willow was called Darce. I forgot about that.) Bracken was originally Talon, a character from another story I had written, but when his personality morphed, he was no longer that character, everything about him had changed so much, including his physical appearance, I could no longer keep the name. Talon belonged to someone else, a boy with a beautiful smile and a golden halo of curls. So Bracken became Bracken, and when Ash came along, it was at that point, I realised there was a theme to my names. I had two choices. Change some of the names, or embrace it and theme-name an entire city. Despite the hesitation I felt, I went with the latter. This brought about names such as Dune, Bear, Skylark and Falcon. It made naming characters that were from Nuovo fun, and rather easy.

The Mudders were another story. Some of the names changed from the first draft to the last because it was pointed out that quite a few of them began with D. Why? I have no idea. I guess I like the letter.
When choosing names there are many methods I employ. Sometimes a character simply comes with a name, such as Luke. Other times, a little research into the meaning behind the names is involved. Or, it is just a matter of trying out different names until one sticks. None of my characters are based on real people, although some share traits of people I know. For example, Granny Ava’s snoring is a direct re-telling of my Nana’s sleep patterns. When my family stayed with my Nana, she and I would share a room. Being the good little girl that I was, I disliked telling my Nana to shut up, but they were the only words which would stop her frightful snoring. Simply telling her to be quiet, or giving her a gentle shake wasn’t enough.

Each of my characters needed to have their own stories, their own motivations for the choices they made, and not simply because it suited the plot. There were a few characters cut from the story because of this, those that did not add to the story line, and then there were those that were developed because they did. Originally, Bracken had an older brother called Narcissus. I liked this name so much, I gave it to a minor character that was later introduced in the Boy in Uniform story, though he is known as Narc.

Here is a brief overview of the three main characters:

Character Willow

Willow Stanton is the main protagonist of the series and the perspective through which Girl Behind Glass and Girl Beneath Stars is told. It is her story. A story where she has led a sheltered and naive life under the protection of the dome and the watchful eyes of the Establishment. She has no idea of life before the dome, and lives believing whole heartedly in everything the Establishment tells her. Her dream is to join the Guardians so she can see what life is like outside the dome. She is focussed on her goal and knows what she wants. When she finds herself outside the dome, she is shaken, and must adjust the way she looks at life, and what she believes to be true.

Character Bracken

At the beginning of the story, Bracken Rush is Willow’s best friend. He is one of the only people she knows who is willing to question certain aspects of life within the dome, the boy who is in love with her, and the son of the governor of Nuovo. He goes through the greatest transformation during the story with the help of the serum, resulting in conflicts between him and almost everyone he loves. He loves Willow at the beginning of the story, and still loves her at the end, though the type of love changes. After the introduction of the serum, Bracken is left tormented. Plagued with violent tendencies that had no place in his life before, it changes him so greatly, he no longer knows who he is. Boy in Uniform is told from his perspective.

Character Luke

Luke Forbes is a laid back, happy-go-lucky guy with a smile that melts hearts. Since he is more of a people person, than a cause person, he is willing to see the good in most people, although, Bracken’s close relationship with Willow, starts Luke and Bracken’s friendship off on rocky ground. His struggle comes through the relationship with his father who has turned to alcohol in an effort to ease the guilt he feels over the death of Luke’s mother. His father would often take his feelings of guilt out on Luke, and this is when Granny Ava stepped in and took Luke under her wing. Luke admires Willow for the resilience she has shown and her willingness to learn new things.

The next post will be published on 3rd September.

Behind the Glass | Dreaming | Inspiration

*If you haven’t read Girl Behind Glass yet, it is currently free in the Kindle store – http://goo.gl/KUGZrA

Three New Zealand Young Adult Dystopian Novels

I thought I would introduce you to three other YA Dystopian Novels written by New Zealand Authors. Two have been traditionally published and the other independently published. I’ve read all three and can attest to their enjoyment. They of course have their similarities being in the dystopian genre but they are unique and interesting in their own right. I’ve included the goodreads links and also the accompanying blurb. So if you would like to read some more books from NZ Authors in the YA Dystopian Genre why not check them out.

 

The CrosCrossingsing by Mandy Hager

The Crossing is the first book in a stunning new trilogy that follows the fate of Maryam and her unlikely companions – Joseph, Ruth and Lazarus. This is fast, suspenseful drama underpinned by a powerful and moving story about love and loss.

The people of Onewere, a small island in the Pacific, know that they are special – chosen to survive the deadly event that consumed the Earth.

Now, from the rotting cruise ship Star of the Sea, the elite control the population – manipulating old texts to set themselves up as living ‘gods’. But what the people of Onewere don’t know is this: the leaders will stop at nothing to meet their own blood-thirsty needs.

When Maryam crosses from child to woman, she must leave everything she has ever known and make a crossing of another kind. But life inside the ship is not as she had dreamed, and she is faced with the unthinkable: obey the leaders and very likely die, or turn her back on every belief she once held dear.

 

Junojuno of Taris by Fleur Beale

Your ordinary teen? Not quite! Because Juno lives — in the not-too-distant future — on Taris, a bubble-covered island in the Pacific, to which a select few hundred people were evacuated when Earth’s inhabitants took everything just a bit too far and began to self-destruct. On Taris there are many rules governing appearance, behaviour, even procreation … but all are for the good of the community, to ensure the survival of humankind. Or are they?

As Taris’ protected environment begins to break down and Juno’s questioning nature takes hold, she uncovers some startling inconsistencies in many of the ‘factual’ histories she has grown up with. She also begins to develop some quite startling, almost supernatural, abilities. As Juno faces increasing danger, she finds allies in the most surprising places.

Juno Of Taris is the first novel in an exciting YA fantasy series.

 

Unworunworthythy by Joanne Armstrong

Nearly two hundred years after a killer disease swept the planet, an island nation continues its isolated survival due to the ruthless dedication of its military. The laws and culture of the country are based on the survival of the fittest, distrust of disease, and control of the general population.

Marked to die.
Raised to survive.
Marked at birth as “Unworthy” to be raised, a young woman questions the necessity for the cruel practice, so many years after the Isolation was declared. She embarks on a journey which will uncover truths about her past and about her society which she could never have imagined.

Amazon links – The CrossingJuno of TarisUnworthy.