I’m a little behind in my entries, so this will be a long one.
A series a colleague of mine said was better than the Hunger Games is by Patrick Ness: The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008), The Ask and the Answer (2009), and Monsters of Men (2010). If you have trouble getting into the first book, persevere! It’s worth it, and I feel the books get better as you go through the series. Set in a dystopic society where all the women have died and the last boy, Todd Hewitt, is about to become a man (he doesn’t know exactly that that will entail), this book really takes off when the boy encounters “silence” (all the men in this society can hear each other’s thoughts, called “Noise”, which is a little discombobulating at first) and the first girl he has ever seen. The fear and distrust they initially feel for each other re-focuses against their common enemy – the relentless and iniquitous Mayor Prentiss, the leader of the village they have left. The characters are very well drawn. . . and scary. The suspense is riveting. As the series progresses, there are more allusions to First Nations people – their near extermination, oppression, and closeness to the Land. Each book is gripping to the last moment.
Glass Girl (2010) by Laura Anderson Kurk explores the trauma effected on a family who has lost their eldest son to a tragic incident. The story centres around 16 year old Meg who adored her brother and can’t come to terms with his loss. Her mother leaves, also broken by the loss, and her father moves the two of them from the big city life in Pittsburg to a farming community in Wyoming. She slowly begins to recover, thanks to the gentle guidance of a rancher named Henry. Very moving.
“A life without love is a life without pain.” Lauren Oliver’s books, Delirium (2011) and Pandemonium (2012) describe a dystopic society where everyone undergoes the “cure” at 18 to rid themselves of all emotion. So much less turmoil in life, right? But revolution is brewing, and Lena, who is so looking forward to her cure in a few months time, dissolves into indecision when she falls in love. The third book will appear in 2013.
Bitterblue (2012) by Kristin Cashore completes the unusual trilogy beginning with the award-winning Graceling (2008), proceeding to a companion novel, Fire (2009), and ending with this one which ties the two together. A fantasy involving seven kingdoms, people graced with special abilities, and the inevitable wars and jealousies amongst them, all three of these books are delightful, involving romance, strong friendships, broken alliances, mystery and suspense, the last featuring Bitterblue trying to unravel the extraordinarily cruel legacy of her deceased and manipulative father.