Tag: rainbow rowell

Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Wayward Son’: A Hero, After the Fact

A year after Rainbow Rowell released her much beloved novel Carry On, the first book in the Simon Snow series, the second in the series, Wayward Son, has been published. Carry On received stellar reviews from audiences; some even claimed it to be comparable to the Harry Potter series. Last year, fans of the novel were left with a void in their hearts after finishing Carry On, but now that void, which can only be filled by more Simon and Baz interactions, can be filled… but not in the way audiences may expect. Rowell’s Wayward Son tells the story of what happens to the hero after the battle has been fought and the war has been won. What readers will learn is that there are always new battles to fight, and not everything ends in happily ever after.

 

 

*Spoilers Ahead*

 

At the end of Carry On, Simon sacrifices his magic in order to defeat the Insidious Humdrum—who turns out to be sort of a version of himself? I know kind of weird—Baz graduates from Watford at the top of his class, all thanks to Penelope who decided not to return for her last term at Watford; and Agatha runs off to California, attempting to get as far away from magic as she possibly can. Wayward Son fast forwards a year into the future. Simon and Penelope share an apartment in London. Baz and Penelope are both attending university, and Simon is doing relatively nothing. He sits on the couch day after day, needing Penelope to spell his wings and tail if he ever wants to wander the outside world. A complete one-eighty from how we left it, Baz and Simon’s relationship is beginning to suffer. Simon is always cranky, and Baz doesn’t know where they stand as a couple. It’s almost as if stripping the magic from Simon created someone completely different. This is when Penelope has her amazing idea to take a trip to America—something she and Simon had always talked about doing—and what starts out as an innocent idea to help cheer Simon up becomes an even bigger threat to their lives and the magical world.

 

Relationships and identity are major themes throughout this novel. All three main characters struggled with their identities for the duration of Wayward Son—Simon struggled with being stripped of his hero status, Baz contemplated his identity as a vampire, and Penelope attempted to find where she fits in a world outside of Watford. As these three characters struggled with their own identities, their relationships were tested, especially pertaining to Baz and Simon. Baz has felt estranged from Simon ever since they defeated the Humdrum and Simon lost his magic. They don’t do any of the things they did when their relationship first began, they don’t seem as close. Much of this had to do with Simon’s identity crisis. He was always the hero up to this point. Now it seems to him that he’s lost his purpose.

 

 

Rainbow Rowell did a fantastic job portraying hero after-the-fact in Wayward Son­. In most action-adventure novels, the story ends with the hero saving the day and living happily ever after. However, the audience seldom sees the hero after his or her job is done. In this novel, we see exactly that, and in Simon’s case, the future is fairly bleak as he struggles to find a new purpose in life and to convince himself that he is deserving of Baz. Similarly, with Penelope, although she has moved on and is attending university, she is struggling to figure out how she fits into the outside world. At Watford, she was the top of her class and able to fix anything with a snap of her fingers (literally and figuratively). However, as she discovers during their road trip across America, the real world doesn’t work like that. There are mages more powerful and experienced, and obstacles not introduced to her at Watford.

 

Although the book did very well in regard to its themes and its portrayal of a different side of the main character, I found that it moved a bit slower than its predecessor, Carry On. The story moves a lot like a road trip across America might move—long stretches of seeing relatively the same thing. The beginning of the book and the beginning of their trip is a lot of Penelope being cranky and hungry, and Baz being confused about where he and Simon stand. It wasn’t until Nebraska that the story really got going.

 

Another aspect of the novel that was lacking was a resolution between Simon and Baz. Now, I realize that not all stories have a happy ending, and certainly not all relationships do either. However, I would have liked to know which direction they were leaning toward: working it out or letting each other go. Adding this to the novel wouldn’t necessarily have made Wayward Son better or worse, but I would’ve enjoyed it. Although there was no definite consensus about Baz and Simon, Baz does bring up an insightful point that stuck—is Simon acting like the Simon he first started dating because he feels like the hero again? Or is this how it’s going to be even when he’s not being the hero?  As Simon, Baz, and Penelope encounter more obstacles and battles on their trip, Simon starts to cheer up and feel like himself again, most likely because he feels like he’s doing something important again and he has things to protect his loved ones from.

 

All in all, Wayward Son is a fantastic sequel to Carry On. It portrays feelings most all adolescents feel after graduating high school or the equivalent: lost and confused (but with more trees, sky, and magic).

 

 

Top Picks: Top Five Astonishing YA Books!

Each week, Bookstr gives you a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list.

Today, we’ll be recommending five of the best YA novels that You’ll Find Astonishing!

 

 

5-Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan

 

Elizabeth Keenan

Image Via Twitter

 

Writer, feminist, musicologist, Elizabeth Keenan gives us her stellar novel, Rebel Girls.

 

Rebel Girls by [Keenan, Elizabeth]

Image Via Amazon

 

We have Athena Graves, a woman who is far more comfortable creating a mixtape playlist than talking with, well, anyone. Plus, people aren’t exactly taken to her given her at St. Ann’s, a conservative Catholic High School, due to her staunchly feminist views and love of punk rock.

Now there are rumors circulating the school, spreading like a virus, a rumor that her popular pro-life sister, Helen, had an abortion over the summer. Now the school administration is involved, threatening her with expulsion.

Now Athena and Helene must not only find a way convince the student body and the administration that it doesn’t matter what Helen did or didn’t do, but also see eye to eye.

The book came out September 10th, Kirkus Reviews called it a “must-read,” so what more do I need to add?

 

 

4-Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas

 

Jimmy Cajoleas

Image Via Lemuria Books

 

His debut YA novel, The Good Demon, wowed us, and now Jimmy Cajoleas has a new release that we can’t wait to tell you about!

 

Minor Prophets by [Cajoleas, Jimmy]

Image Via Amazon

 

Poet Lee Sanford has always had visions. One of his visions was of his mother’s death in a car wreck, right before it happened. When this vision comes to pass, Poet and his younger sister, Murphy, are put into the care of their tyrannical stepfather: Sheriff Horace.

They run for it, heading straight to their estranged grandmother’s remote homestead. At the commune, their grandmother welcomes them in open arms and encourages Poet to explore his vision even further, but why did their mother try to keep them away from her for so long?

Another book that was released September 10th, this book, in the words of Kirkus Reviews “[h]arrowing and hypnotic”. A perfect horror novel for any YA fan who loves it when their skin starts crawling.

 

 

 

 

3-Stormrise by Jillian Boehme

 

Stormrise by Jillian Boehme

Image Via The Nerd Daily

Jillian Boehme brings us an epic YA fantasy novel where Rain must takes a chance to seize the life she wants.

Disrespected by her tribe because of her gender, Rain purchases powder made from dragon magic that enables her to disguise herself as a boy. From there she goes to the war camps where she becomes a maverick soldier, but there is one problem: she hears a voice inside her head, the voice of a dragon.

After being enlisted into a secret task force with plans of rescuing the High King, Rains begins to realize the dragon inside her might be the key to winning this war.

Kirkus Reviews calls it “Mulan with dragons for added fun: Be prepared to break out into ‘I’ll Make a Man out of You’,” and, honestly, what more do you need from this September 24th release?

 

 

2-Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

 

Rainbow Rowell

Image Via Amazon

 

Rainbow Rowell, an author you already have your radar, has brought us the second book in the Simon Snow series.

 

Wayward Son (Simon Snow Series Book 2) by [Rowell, Rainbow]

Image Via Amazon

 

If you recall, the first book, Carry On, ended on a triumphant note. They won the war, he fell in love, what more could he want? But for some reason it all feels hollow, so he goes for a change of scenery.

That’s how Simon, Penny, and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West. But they get lost, very lost, and now have to wonder where they were heading to in the first place as they encounter dragons, vampires, and shrunken-headed beings with shotguns.

Set for a September 24th release, this is one book that you won’t want to miss out on!

 

 

1-The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson

 

Megan Cooley Peterson

MeganCooleyPeterson.com

 

Megan Cooley Peterson brings us her debut novel, and it’s something special…

 

The Liar's Daughter by [Peterson, Megan Cooley]

Image Via Amazon

 

Seventeen-year-old Piper was raised in a cult, but she doesn’t know it. When the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers, including Caspian, the boy she loves, Piper is sent to live “Outside.”

Then “They” introduce her to a stranger claiming to be her father, who tells her that the one she calls “Father” stole her from them.

But, as the Amazon description puts it, “Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.”

The book hits shelves October 1st. Want to pick it up? Kirkus Reviews calls it “[an intriguing look at a young woman adjusting to life outside a cult,” but we warn you: haunting with each line, this story grabs you and runs you through each and every page.

 

 

Featured Images Via Amazon

4 Upcoming Sequels and Where to Start

There are a lot of exciting sequels coming up, and if you’ve left preparation for the last minute, don’t panic: here are four forthcoming books and how you can catch before they come out!

 

-SPOILER FREE-

 

1. When She Reigns – Jodi Meadows

When She Reigns
Image via Amazon

 

Where to start: Before She Ignites and its sequel As She Ascends

A lush fantasy world and slow burn plot that’ll keep you thinking until the final book on September 10th, pick up this book if you want an amazing story that’ll make you feel things. Plus you’ll love the complexity of the characters and their relationships.

 

 

2. Wayward Son – Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son
Image via Amazon

 

Where to start: Carry On

This series is a great take on wizard school. We start in the last year. Simon Snow’s got a lot of power, but he’s not good at using it. Also he’s pretty sure his roommate is a secret vampire. And something is eating magic in great, horrible swathes. Also, LGBTQAA+.

 

3. Supernova – Marissa Meyer

Supernova
Image via Amazon

 

Where to start: Renegades and its sequel Archenemies

This is a post-Utopian urban fantasy about villainy and revenge. Superpowers, syndicates, and spy craft make this different from other entries into the genre, and you’ll find the characters awfully charming or charmingly awful. Sides are set in stone, and one person’s interests might contradict.

 

 

4. Children of Virtue and Vengeance  – Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengeance
Image via Amazon

 

Where to start: Children of Blood and Bone

Magic and it’s users were killed off by ruthless invaders, but now there’s one chance to bring it back. To do so will require crossing territory filled with beasts and magic, side by side with an enemy, but the greatest struggle may be controlling the magic that’s left.

 

 

Featured image via Hope Walks Blog

Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Eleanor & Park’ Is Getting Movie Adaptation!

The film rights to Rainbow Rowell’s bestselling novel Eleanor & Park have been acquired and pre-production is already underway.

 

Eleanor & Park

Image Via Amazon

 

The 2012 novel is about two misfit teenagers, Eleanor and Park, living in Nebraska in 1986 who find a connection thanks to comic books and mixed tapes and soon fall head over heels for each other. It’s a story of the the high school experience as well as the wonders, and horrors, of first love with themes of domestic abuse, child abuse, bullying, and body image.

 

Rainbow Rowell

Image Via Rainbow Rowell.com

The book received critical acclaim upon release with Kirkus Reviews calling it, “Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike,” and The Boston Globe and The Horn Book Magazine noting it as “an honest, heart-wrenching portrayal of imperfect but unforgettable love”.

Awards were aplenty. The American Library Association gave the book a 2014 Michael L. Printz Award Honor for excellence in young adult literature, it received the Rowell the 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction, NPR put the book on their list of the Best Books of 2013, and the audio book received a 2014 Odyssey Honor, and those don’t amass to half of the awards it rhas eceived.

To make things interesting, Deadline reported that “Plan B will produce with PICTURESTART’S Erik Feig, whose upstart production company has committed to finance the film. The author is writing the script and will be exec producer.”

Holy moly!

Plan B film Productions Logo

Image Via Creative COW

 

Plan B has recently worked on Vice, Moonlight, as well as The Departed.

 

Erik Feig

Image Via Columbia College – Columbia University

 

Erik Feig has produced, supervised and originated the production of Academy Award-winning films such as La La Land and The Hurt Locker, along with book adaptations such as The Twilight SagaThe Hunger Games series, and the Divergent series.

 

Lucy Kitada

Image Via Hollywood Reporter

He’s a seasoned pro and he’s got Lucy Kitada at his side as executive producer, whose worked on  A24’s Under the Silver Lake, starring Andrew Garfield and the Netflix thriller 13 Minutes.

Rowell herself has trusted them to be a great team. She told Deadline:

I really feel like I couldn’t have found a better group of people to trust with Park and Eleanor — and I can’t wait to see this project come to life.

Neither can we!

 

 

Featured Image Via Candy Mag.com

'City of Bones,' 'City of Ashes,' and 'City of Glass,' books 1-3 in the six book Mortal Instruments series

7 Unmissable Books for ‘Shadowhunters’ Fans

Happy Birthday, City of Bones! YA Fantasy superstar Cassandra Clare released her debut (the first entry into the sprawling Shadowhunters universe) on March 27th, 2007, which makes the book twelve years old. That would land it squarely in middle school—a familiar landscape which has nonetheless changed a lot since this book’s release. Some things have, of course, remained the same: children are mean and hormones so rarely help anyone. But there are some major differences—YA is more diverse; genre fiction is booming; and social issues have risen to the forefront of modern discourse.

 

'City of Bones' by Cassandra Clare

Image Via Twilight Sleep

 

Cassandra Clare’s novels have continued to do what they did at their outset: tell stories of characters who don’t often have their stories told. Clare’s LGBT+ rep throughout her body of work hits each of those four letters (and perhaps, soon, we’ll get some of the other letters that come with the +.) Clare has also recently gained attention for autistic representation that transcends superficial stereotypes. Her characters are bombastically human with all that entails—dramatic love stories, deep-seated emotional issues, ridiculous inside jokes. Clare’s obvious love for fantasy and the genre is second only to her understanding of human nature, and it’s obvious her work resonates for innumerable reasons: there are currently more than 50 million copies of her novels in print. The Mortal Instruments series in particular has inspired both a film adaptation and a successful TV series. And, of course, her work has always resonated with me.

Picture this: I’m thirteen. I’m wearing a horrific amount of bright blue eyeliner (read: any amount). I am distinctly not straight. Since it’s not terribly likely you know what I look like, imagine me this way: uncomfortable with everything. City of Bones featured one of the very first LGBT+ couples I ever encountered—withdrawn, struggling Alec and the ever-bold Magnus Bane—and changed the way that I thought about what are currently two of my favorite things: genre fiction and myself.

Gay puns on the respective 'Shadowhunters' characters' sexualities.

Image Via @Kayla_Darktale Tumblr

 

We’d call this a list of books to help you fill the Shadowhunters void—except, of course, that there isn’t one! Cassandra Clare has dutifully (and enthusiastically) expanded her universe’s lore since its inception, with new releases forthcoming in 2019: Chain of Goldthe first entry into a new historical fantasy trilogy, and The Red Scrolls of Magic, the start of a trilogy centered on the magical misadventures of Alec and Magnus. Clare even has a section on her website entitled “where to start,” acknowledging the fact that readers might be a little intimidated by the canon. Some advice on starting? Do it. Immediately.

 

Which 'Shadowhunters' Book Should You Start With?

Image Via Riveted Lit

 

But if, like me, you’ve already plowed your way through the majority of the seemingly limitless Shadowhunters canon, here’s a delightful mix of 7 Young Adult & New Adult classics to remind you of all that this genre can accomplish.

1. The Raven Cycle

 

'The Raven Cycle,' a quartet by Maggie Stiefvater

Folded Pages Distillery

 

Is this first on the list because it’s my personal favorite? Yes. Is it first on the list because it’s sure to be your personal favorite? Also yes. It would be a travesty to reduce Maggie Stiefvater‘s quartet to its LGBT+ characters, mostly because it’s so many other things besides strong representation: dangerous, raw, and human as its characters and all the things they want. Bonus content: Molotov cocktails, dead things that are supposed to be alive, alive things that are supposed to be dead. Every possible use of ‘Dick’ as a nickname for Richard. Distinguished boys who, for some reason, continue to wear boat shoes. The feeling of returning home and, for some, the immense desire to leave it. Bees…? One of the most unique series in YA fantasy today, The Raven Cycle is startling, strange, and filled with a cast of characters so real you won’t believe you haven’t really met them. Cassie Clare fans will live for the sarcasm, the limitless wit, the character dynamics, and the positive LGBT+ representation.

 

2. SHADES OF MAGIC

 

The 'Shades of Magic' Trilogy by VE Schwab

ImaGe Via Book riot

 

In V.E. Schwab‘s delightful, inventive, and ambitious trilogy, four different versions of London exist with varying levels of magic—and equivalent levels of danger. (Spoiler: that level is HIGH.) One is the London of old, one that we might recognize: no magic, lots of crime. One London is magic the way that we might imagine it. One is magic with all the cruelty that magic so often entails. And one—the most magic London of all—no longer exists. Or, at least, it no longer exists in any way that we might recognize. Oh, did that description make these books sound happy and upbeat? They are… when everything’s not busy going very, very wrong. Fans of Jace and Alec’s affectionate-yet-frequently-frustrated brotherly dynamic will love the give-and-take between adopted brothers Kell and Rhy. And it would be quite the challenge to build a world richer than Cassandra Clare’s—whose books are physically large enough to build that world brick by brick. V.E. Schwab’s attention to detail will delight those who are after a detailed lore.

 

3. The magicians

 

Lev Grossman's 'The Magicians' Trilogy

Image Via The Reading Room

 

The Magicians has gotten a lot of attention lately thanks to its SyFy TV adaptation—and if it doesn’t already, it deserves to have yours. This may just be the best book series you ever read about a fictional wizard school (and yes, I do know about the other one). Unlike many fantasy series, which can paint concepts of good and evil in the broadest brushstrokes, The Magicians thoroughly examines all the thematic implications of the fantasy genre, subverting every trope in the process. The humor is frequently raunchy, nihilistic. The magic is even more frequently absurd. And the story is consistently unthinkable in its imagination, pushing the limits of what magic (and the fantasy genre!) can accomplish. Lev Grossman‘s world is as dark and sensual as it is intellectual and calculating—but, in the end, it’s more startlingly earnest than it is anything else, a subversive novel written from a clear love of the genre. Bonus: disaster gays, talking bears who drink Peach Schnapps, a hell that looks like a high school gymnasium, and a story to remind you exactly what storytelling means.

 

4. SIX OF CROWS

 

'Six of Crows' Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Image Via Affinity Magazine

One of the best things about Cassandra Clare’s writing is the never-ending banter, each topic seemingly more ludicrous than the last… and somehow, for all its silliness, it only makes the characters feel more human and their dynamics more sincere. Leigh Bardugo‘s Six of Crows is a character-driven heist duology set in a richly-realized fantasy world full of crime; corruption; and badass fight scenes, baby! What’s the difference between a heist and a regular robbery, you might ask? Well, it’s pretty simple: a heist is what they call theft when it’s cool. But as fast-paced and high-concept as this well-oiled plot machine may be, it’s also a deeply character-driven story. This misfit (and very queer) cast of characters may or may not steal what they set out to pilfer, but they’ll certainly steal your heart. And possibly crush it—this book has one of the most devastating backstories of all time.

 

5. Carry On

 

'Carry On' and 'Wayward Son' by Rainbow Rowell

Images Via Amazon; image made with photocollage

 

Rainbow Rowell‘s Carry On isn’t exactly fan-fiction, but it’s certainly fiction written for fandoms. You might call it your average wizard-boarding-school book, except that there’s very little average about it. Carry On is oft called ‘the gay Harry Potter,’ but it’s certainly not derivative—Rowell acknowledges its predecessor in clear ways, and chooses to thoughtfully play with beloved genre tropes. Oh, and you’re not going to find any LGBT+ subtext here—it’s all very much on the page. Rowell herself has commented on the matter of overt representation in Vanity Fair: “there was a time when this had to be subtext… don’t [read] it for the subtext, don’t [read] it for the moments [in BBC’s Sherlock] when Sherlock and John make eye contact and the world sets on fire but none of it’s real. As a culture, we are ready for text.” As a bonus, she also doesn’t think she’s a social justice hero for including a gay couple. “I’m definitely not the first person to write a gay Y.A. story,” she acknowledges, “by a million years.” Regardless, we’re always happy for more! This fun, subversive novel will appeal to pop culture fiends across all fandoms—including Cassandra Clare’s!

 

6. Peeps

 

'Peeps' and 'The Last Days' by Scott Westerfeld

Image Via Pinterest

 

Scott Westerfeld‘s gritty urban fantasy is the It Follows of the mid-2000s urban fantasy world: college freshman Cal’s previous girlfriends (read: YA way to say ‘sexual partners’) have been infected with an unusual sort of vampirism. Sure there’s the whole lurking-in-the-darkness thing, but there’s also the anathema—Westerfeld’s vampires are repulsed by everything about their old lives, everything they once loved. (Especially Cal… although that may have something to do with him dropping off his vampire chlamydia.) A New Adult novel before the classification was coined, Peeps and sequel The Last Days are gritty trysts into the dark supernatural underworld of NYC reminiscent of Clare’s Downworld, where the parties can last as long as some of their attendees’ lifespans. The edgy, fun tone with surprisingly poignant moments is sure to remind audiences of Clare’s own work. This isn’t your average vampire story… probably because it isn’t a vampire story at all. It’s about home, lies, love and equally powerful hatred: things far more human than that.

 

7. Modern Faerie Tale

 

The 'Modern Faerie Tales' trilogy by Holly Black

Image Via yALSA

If you were around when the original three books of The Mortal Instruments were being released—that is, if you weren’t, like, eight years old—you may recall Cassandra Clare and established fantasy writer Holly Black‘s power-couple friendship. (I happen to remember Cassandra Clare’s livestream when she announced that there would be three more books in the series, so it’s safe to say I do.) Author of the children’s classic series The Spiderwick Chronicles, fantasy queen Black gave fans a nod to her close friendship with Cassie by including a mention of Jace and his fellow Shadowhunters in her books! In turn, Clare mentions the protagonist of Valiant in her trilogy as well. Does she use Valerie’s name? No. But which other bald junkie who lurks with the fey folk in subway tunnels could the unnamed character possibly be? Given that Black’s series (urban fantasy, NYC, chaotic fey) fits in quite naturally with Clare’s Downworlder mythology, it’s an excellent companion series.

 

Featured Image Via CNN.