Sunday, December 16, 2012

Yet More Cybils Panic

Another roundup of books I'd like to review more carefully for you--but which I simply can't if I'm to attempt to finish looking at as many of the 205 YA SF/F nominees as I can...

This gets tough to do; as soon as I'm through with one book, I'm on to another, and even when I'm ruminating on a book, a few days' distance makes it hard to put together a few lines. I hope this gives you a few hints and inspires you to go looking for yourself!

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (Bodley Head) is a book that sort of defies its category. "Beware of Long Lankin, who lives in the moss..." That might fit nicely with the last line of Rock-a-bye Baby, but Long Lankin is a much scarier ending than just falling out of the sky. Two girls are sent to live with their great-aunt in the late 1950s. The house where they live, moldering, old, is being swallowed by the sea and by sorrow. Great-aunt Ida wants Cora and Mimi gone, but something much more sinister might get them all first. I'm not entirely sure how to conceive of the children's viewpoints (I couldn't figure out if Cora was an old-school, mature 12, or, say, 14), and the great-aunt receives sections from her point of view as well. Long Lankin is lovingly written, and has something scary for everyone, but it might take a mature reader to unravel the time/place. I definitely think that an older teen who loooooves scary movies will find something here; I spent one long night awake after a certain scene!

I love the cover of The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke  (Strange Chemistry). The detail, the paper-cut feel, and the swirly font all hint at the story of Ananna, a girl whose world might have been a parallel universe to any bit of the Arabian Nights. Ananna's parents, pirates (quite respectable ones), have plans to marry her off, but Ananna is having none of it. She makes a daring escape on a camel and carries on: there's no going back. It's not easy to be a young girl, on her own, with no tools or funds at your disposal, but things are really not easy when there are assassins involved.

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman (Small Beer Press - Big Mouth House) is another that defies category (the Cybils divides only into contemporary and SF/F in YA and MG, so anything with an odd happening is usually SF/F; though this is largely, closely focused on non-magical history, there are a few otherworldly, time-travel-y bits, and that's why this is here). In this carefully researched story, Sophie slips back in time from 1960 to 1860 on her family's land. In 1860, she's taken for a slave, but don't think this is a story of a girl who solves all the woes of the past. She's part of others solving for themselves, and part of something bigger, and more thoughtful, regarding class, race, and power.

Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (Walker) starts with a boy, Daniel, who's not very pleased to be spending the summer at Leisure World with his dad. His dad is a drunk. Daniel's also not so great, by his own judgment, and then there's a boring summer of boring sport(s) to look forward to. And then there's a girl that only he can see... Covers don't have much to do with insides, but I thought that this cover was really, really interesting. I don't know that it expands on the title, so much, but it's simple, iconic, and memorable.

When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux - Books for Young Readers) is another with a very striking cover, and one with a creepy, evocative title. Felicita lives as one of the privileged few in Pelimburg, though it's quickly clear that privilege does not come with freedom; her best friend kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, and soon, Felicita has escaped to the slums. Her friend's death has called forth a strange magic that might or might not be the best thing for everyone, and Felicita has to decide where to fight...

All of these books are nominated in the YA SF/F category for the 2012 Cybils awards. These reviews are based on copies provided by their respective publishers.

1 comment:

  1. I thought Long Lankin wouldn't scare me, but two nights in a row I found myself putting the book down because I couldn't continue.


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