Something I’ve tried to do extremely unsuccessfully as a librarian is to do programs for teens centered around writing. Unfortunately, writing is not an interest of the regular teens who come in most days of the week, so I’ve never had anyone actually show interest in my programs. Still, for NaNoWriMo, I felt like I had to do something for it at the library because it’s such a big thing, so I made a display of books that started out as NaNoWriMo projects.
I wanted to share some books today that began as projects for NaNoWriMo to…motivate you maybe?? To hopefully not make you feel terrible and inadequate? To show you that your crappy first drafts can be taken to great heights of being published and being real books on shelves that librarians put on NaNo displays for teens to check out?? d) all of the above.
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because tonight, they’ll come for her.
My take: I actually really liked CREWEL when I read it as a teen. It was really well-written and had a lot of interesting things to say from a very feminist perspective. I’ve been debating rereading it since I never ended up finishing the trilogy, but I own all the books.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
My take: Unfortunately…I HATED this book. I thought Cath was insufferably sheltered and hated the fanfiction parts of the book, which made up for about half of it. I just found Cath so annoying and was irritated at her inability to put herself out there when it didn’t seem like she had much compelling reason to be that way other than having a sheltered upbringing. This book just struck me as out of touch at the time.
Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological thriller about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity and then piece together her own identity.
When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back–a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself.
With a tremendous amount of courage and support from unexpected friends, Angie embarks on a journey into the darkest corners of her mind. As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: when you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the people responsible, or is there another way to feel whole again?
My take: I LOVED this book. It was dark and harrowing and disturbing and super suspenseful. Serious TW for rape, sexual assault, and general trauma since it’s about a girl who comes back after being kidnapped a few years prior.
A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
My take: I didn’t love CINDER, but I did love the sequel, SCARLET. I was a bit underwhelmed by CRESS and WINTER was just so long that I ended up giving up on the Lunar Chronicles.
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
My take: I was expecting to love this book because I love a complicated relationship and a relationship that I know most people in the YA community will hate because everyone is so sensitive about teen cheating even though they’re not married (sorry, just a little salt). However, I was really surprised by how much I didn’t ship Anna and Etienne because their relationship did feel wrong to me. They weren’t honest with each other and didn’t seem to care whose feelings they stepped all over in the process of getting together. This one was not for me.
In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?
My take: It’s been a REALLY long time since I read this one so I don’t know what to say about it other than I liked it a lot at the time. It felt like a unique take on both zombies and dystopian. I never read the sequels, though.
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope.
But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.
My take: I also disliked this book quite a lot. Part of it was that I wasn’t expecting a dual narration and didn’t think the book needed it. I also hated Alice. Usually I love unlikeable characters because they’re complex and compelling and interesting, but her I just disliked too much to find any of those things in her character.