Diana Peterfreund has just written a smart piece about authors reviewing. In it she quotes me claiming to be a “book evangelist”. I’ve decided to own it big time over here.
My name is Justine Larbalestier and I’m a book evangelist.
I call myself that because it’s a more accurate term than “critic” or “reviewer”. I rarely go into detail about books I love. I don’t analyse, or critique, I don’t even give plot summaries, I just say, “I love this book! Read it!” If I hate a book I rant about it with friends, I don’t write about it here.
Lots of reasons. Firstly, writing a serious critical analysis of a book is very hard work. I don’t have the time or the inclination to work that hard on anything but my fiction.
Ranting about books I hate can be a lot of fun, but I don’t want to hurt the feelings of people I’m very likely to run into in social settings. Hell, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I know how much work goes into a novel. Even ones I think are terrible. It’s horrible to have your weeks, months, or years of hard work dismissed by some jerk who read it while they had digestive issues from too much vindaloo the night before.
I have disliked many books because I was in a bad mood about something else when I read them (such as digestive issues from vindaloo). On the few occasions I’ve given them another go, I’ve discover that truly it wasn’t them, it was me. I’d rather not have this blog drowning under the weight of all my retractions.
Some hideously bad books are loved by readers and change their lives in positive ways. Some of the Young Adult books I’ve hated most in the last ten years have had a huge effect on many young readers. Not the least of which is turning them into passionate readers, who in some cases have gone on to discover my books. It would be churlish to publicly eviscerate books like that.
When I hate a book I kind of don’t care whether other people read it or not,1 but when I love a book I want everyone in the whole world to go out and read it and discover its amazingness.
On that note here are the YA books I’ve read and loved recently that I don’t think are getting enough attention, or selling as well as they should. You all must must must read them:
- Coe Booth Tyrell (I know it’s up for the LA Times book prize but I keep meeting people who haven’t read it and that is just wrong.)
- Audrey Couloumbis’ The Misadventures of Maude March
- Kenjiro Haitani’s A Rabbit’s Eyes
- Simmone Howell’s Notes from the Teenage Underground
- Maureen Johnson’s Devilish
- Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunter (And it’s sequel, Dreamquake is now out so you don’t have to suffer from massive cliffhangeritis.)
- Margo Lanagan White Time
- E. Lockhart’s Dramarama (As it hasn’t officially pub’d yet it’s a bit premature to say it’s flying under the radar. Whatever. I love it.)
- Jaclyn Moriarty’s Becoming Bindy Mackenzie (US title is The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie.)
Updated to add
- Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia trilogy of The Thief, Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia. Can’t believe I forgot it!
Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments. Only relatively obscure books, please. No New York Times or any other kinds of bestsellers.
- Though it is fun to have a good old bitch session about a mutually hated book. [↩]