Hello Darling Readers,
The good news is that the #LoveOzYA grassroots movement is rocketing along nicely. There’s now a Twitter, and Instagram account (being run by the very talented Braiden Asciak!) … and a #LoveOzYA podcast is on the way thanks to him!!
You may have also (hopefully) seen some #LoveOzYA articles floating around the interwebs. I wrote something for the Stella Prize blog, and the Kids Book Review. And I can be very cryptic and tell you there’s more coming. Watch this space!
So, the movement – and hashtag, thought up by the very clever mind of Ellie Marney – is going nicely. But I still encounter things on a daily basis that make me cringe and/or weep. Like this article from The Conversation investigating YA Dystopians, and in particular the difference between American/Australian dystopic themes. Not a bad premise, right? Well shockingly the author somehow takes the entire preamble of the article to conclude in the last sentence that; ‘Given the huge success of the American novels, it appears that this picture of themselves is the one contemporary adolescents prefer.’ Um. No. For one thing – she chose novels that fit her premise, so hasn’t read widely of either Australian or American YA dystopia (because any list about this genre that doesn’t have Claire Zorn is just not worth your time, quite frankly) and she seems to deliberately ignore certain aspects of Ambelin Kwaymullina’s ‘The Tribe’ series in particular, by only examining the environmental aspects and suggesting it has nowhere near the same technological preoccupation that US dysotpians tend to (Um. There are self-aware synthetic life forms in ‘The Tribe’, FYI). So – yes – infuriating, right?
Then I encounter a different problem with the media’s reporting on youth lit … and I’m not even talking about ‘YA bashing’ articles either. No, I’m talking about when book articles are syndicated from the US. Case in point: Ten new books your teens will be obsessed with. Surprise! It’s an Australian website but this list features no Australian YA authors, because the article was syndicated through the American Tribune News Agency.
Now, I totally understand why the media uses syndicated articles. But I have a problem when they use syndication to discuss art and culture, like books. Because – if you haven’t heard – there’s a little thing happening right now called the Arts Inquiry, the purpose of which is to tell our Arts Minister why gutting the Australia Council to put money into his ‘National Program for Excellence in the Arts’ (which small-to-medium arts organisations are ineligible to apply for – that means places like our beloved Centre for Youth Literature! individual artists and OH YEAH!, anything to do with books and authors can’t apply for grant money), is a BAD IDEA! So the last thing we need is lost opportunities to celebrate and champion the Australian arts culture.
So when Literary Agent extraordinaire, Jacinta Di Mase suggested making a counter-list of all the new release and forthcoming Australian YA books to get excited about, I thought that was a smashing idea. And because there’s just so much Aussie YA to jump up and down about, I thought ‘why not really show em’ and make a list of ELEVEN new books?!’
So here it is; ELEVEN new #LoveOzYA books your teens will be obsessed with
Risk by Fleur Ferris
This debut Aussie YA is about frenemies Taylor and Sierra, and what happens when Sierra meets up with a boy she finds online, and doesn’t return home.
‘Risk’ is all the rage right now – and if you need further proof of its soaring popularity, check out its rise in the ranks over at Penguin Teen Australia’s Top 10 bestsellers! Even more exciting, is that Ferris’ book is going to be the first featured in the ‘Aussie Bloggers Book Club’. This genius idea was thought up by Michelle (‘the unfinished bookshelf’) and Nicole (‘my book burrow’) – there’s a Goodreads group you can join to be part of the discussion, and follow the hashtag #bookclubaus … and read ‘Risk’ by August 30 to be part of the book club! In the future #bookclubaus will alternate Aussie and International titles each month – so be sure to keep an eye out for announcement of the September title too!
Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti
If this premise doesn’t set your fandom-heart aflutter, I don’t know what will; ‘Featuring six unique superheroes, one bag of stolen drug money, one bungled bank robbery and a whole heap of trouble.’
Written by American (but I’m pretty sure Australia adopted him?) Scott Westerfeld, and Australian authors Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti ‘Zeroes’ has been making waves for a few months now … I mean, the authors appeared at San Diego Comic Con, for cryin’ out loud! That’s HUGE!
Cloudwish by Fiona Wood
Does everybody know how obsessed I am with Fiona Wood? Because I am – her books Six Impossible Things and Wildlife are two of my favourites of all time … so believe me when I say it’s a big deal that Cloudwish is my new favourite of all her books.
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy, and I just fell head over heels for this story of Vân Uoc Phan – the daughter of Vietnamese immigrant parents – who gets all she wished for when her crush Billy Gardiner starts paying attention to her, but what’s that old saying again? Oh yeah – be careful what you wish for.
My favourite summary of this book so far comes from American book instagrammer ‘treatyoshelf’ who is beautifully obsessed with Aussie YA, she said: “For all the people with names others can't pronounce or spell, Fiona wrote Vân U'óc Phan for you. It's for the quiet girls with loud thoughts. This is hands down one of my favorite books of the year.”
Illuminae ‘The Illuminae Files_01’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Here’s a fun game: guess the sentence that made me start *squeeeeeeeing* in excitement for this book:
‘Kady and Ezra thought their break up was messy until they witnessed their entire world literally falling apart. Now Kady and Ezra are piecing together what's left of their lives, and their romance, and trying to survive an intergalactic war. An innovatively designed story that's best described as Battlestar Galactica meets 10 Things I Hate About You.’
DING, DING, DING! We have a winner: ‘Battlestar Galactica meets 10 Things I Hate About You.’
TAKE MY MONEY, I WANT THIS BOOK!
From Australian writing-duo Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff … yes, Amie Kaufman of the ‘Starbound’ series with Meagan Spooner, and Jay Kristoff from the insanely popular ‘Lotus Wars’ series. Illuminae was one of the big books featured at Book Expo America this year (they had the cover on a staircase!) and the early reviews are already mouth-wateringly good. And –oh yeah! – it’s written by two Aussies. Uh-huh. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield
Again, I’ve been lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this and let me tell you what a gift it is to have a new Vikki Wakefield book in your life. This new one is about a girl called Jacklin Bates who has a complicated relationship with her sister and the boy she wants more from. Jack lives in a town that has a ‘suicide forest’, where people frequently go to die …
I adored this book; particularly for the setting that’s as rich and complex as the characters and impacts on them a lot – like, what does it do to a town that’s a dead-end (literally) for so many people?
Wakefield’s writing is magnificent as always, just take this description of the town to whet your appetite:
Morning arrived late to our town and night came early; it was ten by the time the sun made it over Pryor Ridge and around four when it ducked behind Mount Moon. Everything in Mobius stretched to reach the light: we built out houses on stilts, our trees grew tall and spindly, our shadows were long.
The Tribe Book 3: The Foretelling Of Georgie Spider by Ambelin Kwaymullina
I am obsessed with ‘The Tribe’ series by Kwaymullina – this is a fantastic Aussie dystopic with serious heart. And I’m both thrilled and terrified of this final book in the series, because I don’t want it to end but I need to know what happens!
I have started reading the finale and all I can say is … WOAH! And now that the trilogy has been rounded out, I think readers will have a lot of fun gorging on this series that began with The Interrogation Of Ashala Wolf followed by The Disappearance Of Ember Crow and now finishes triumphantly with Georgie.
Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson
This book has just dropped and everybody should be rushing out to grab a copy because it’s AMAZING;
‘When Astrid and Hiro meet they give each other superhero names. She's Lobster Girl and he's Shopping Trolley Boy. Not an auspicious beginning. But it gets better. Then it gets worse. Much worse. Classic romantic comedy: girl-meets-boy, love blossoms, and is derailed. Incredibly engaging, upbeat, funny and smart.’
Also: take heed of the cover’s punny message, “Resistance is Fertile” – you won’t be able to resist this Aussie gem.
The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan
I don’t care who you are or how old you are – Shaun Tan is for everybody! This new one from the Australian treasure is; ‘A unique and alluring art book showcasing Shaun Tan's extraordinary sculptures based on the timeless and compelling fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.’
There was a recent trade show for booksellers, and Allen&Unwin showed some sneak-peaks of the pages and they are jaw-droppingly fabulous.
How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion by David Burton
26 AUGUST 2015
The book begins: “I’ve lied to you already. I don’t know how to be happy. Yeah, sorry. Awkward.”
And that brilliant opener is all the hint you need that Burton’s memoir – which touches on important topics like mental health and sexuality – is just the kind of endearingly funny and relatable book that teens will adore. I’ve started reading it, and I’m blown away by Burton’s raw honesty and admirable wit – to the point that I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting up on a soapbox later to start handing out copies to passersby on the street! And I can’t wait to hear David talk when I attend Brisbane Writers Festival this year.
RUSH OH! By Shirley Barrett
I love historical YA – and I love the sound of this book from Australian screenwriter and director, Shirley Barrett. ‘When the eldest daughter of a whaling family in Eden, New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908, the story she tells is poignant and hilarious, filled with drama and misadventure.’
That just sounds amazing, and I’ve gotta say that I’m especially excited for this because of the documentary Blackfish that just left my heart in tatters, I’m keen for an inspired-by-real-events story that shows humans are capable of not being monsters; ‘Chronicling her family's struggle to survive the season and her own attempts to navigate an all-consuming crush on an itinerant whaleman with a murky past, Rush Oh! is also a celebration of an extraordinary episode in Australian history when a family of whalers formed a fond, unique allegiance with a pod of Killer whales - and in particular, a Killer whale named Tom.’
The Beauty is in the Walking by James Moloney
Australian YA authors just keep getting better with each new book – and they tend to have long careers (Hallelujah!). Enter, a new novel from James Moloney (whom I have been reading since forever!), which is described as; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time meets Wonder. This one is a gloriously complex tale suitable for readers aged 12+ … but I suspect quite a lot of adults will be like me and picking this book up because it’s from an Aussie YA favourite.