YA Book Review: Fire in Ice (The Generators)

YA Book Review: 

Fire in Ice
(The Generators)

I couldn’t put Fire in Ice, by Jennifer DiGiovanni, down. It’s a quick, fun, read with excitement and romance intertwined with moments of great tension and irony created by a he said/she said dual narrative.

The book dives right into the action with Cara Scotto being severely ill and waking up with strange new powers. Alex DeMarsh, a rich celebrity type, returns from prep school for winter break to instantly realize the little Cara he vaguely remembered from childhood has grown up to be hot and exactly like him, a Generator. The headstrong Cara must come to terms with being a supernatural being, gifted through her ancestry to be able generate and manipulate energy. Alex must teach her to control her energy, hide it from everyone, and he must protect her from their kind’s enemies. Only neither of them plans on the feelings that surge between them, both supernatural and natural. Tensions and dangers arise, and it becomes unclear whether they can make it together or even stay alive.

At first, the narrative seemed a little too clean cut for me, without some of the detailed descriptions one longs for in a book, but the quick to the point pacing proved it to be a page turner and I enjoyed the quick chapters and plot. The dual point of view switching between Alex and Cara is what made this book amazing. I love when narratives overlap slightly so it creates this rich irony of misunderstandings only the reader is privy to. This is often difficult to do in first person while making the characters unique but DiGiovanni makes it happen. Cara is headstrong, insecure at times, and untrusting. Alex is used to the limelight but is resentful of playing a part and deep down is lonely. Frankly, he is adorably cheeky and irresistible.

Overall, this novel has some familiar tropes, like the hot rich guy meets the headstrong girl and must introduce her to his supernatural world, but it felt unique and well told due to the point-of-view, strong characters, and a fast plot that leaves you wanting more. And with it being a series, readers will get exactly that.

Book 2 of The Generators series, Truth in Lies, was just released on Sept. 7th. We will see Cara and Alex's relationship deepen as he tries to help her control her powers to hide the truth from others. Despite wanting to live a normal life, they fear an old enemy striking again. Alex must come to terms with the idea of eliminating the threat and possibly taking over if he and Cara want a chance at a happily ever after.

You can bet I already bought my copy, so stayed tuned for another review this winter.

Buy book 1 here

Buy book 2 here

Tips for YA Lit: Genre

Tips for YA Lit: 

Often times, people ask what genre I write. I usually try to just say "young adult" and move on. I don't like to explain which genre exactly because sometimes there is no clear-cut distinction. For example, my next book coming out is young adult and I guess you can classify it as dystopian, but is also is a romance, but there are also traces of eco-fiction and sci-fi in it as well. I don't stick to one genre, and I tend to like books that mix elements from other genres as well. It makes things more interesting and it also prevents predictability.

Break down of genres common to YA literature--
  • paranormal--real world with fantastical elements or characters, more believable than fantasy
  • dystopian--post apocalyptic settings after some catastrophic event 
  • fantasy--not realistic at all, think alternate universe, planets, etc. not own world as we know it
  • eco-fiction--human impact on nature or just nature oriented
  • sci-fi--has advanced scientific thinking in it or technology like time or space travel, usually futuristic
  • romance--the crux of the story is centered around a romance
  • contemporary--takes place now, complete realism without any fantastical elements
  • historical--obviously, takes place in the past
  • horror--anything from psychological thrillers to blood, guts, and scare factors
  • mystery--who did it? Also some crime fiction of solving cases
  • steampunk--a type of sci-fantasy that uses Victorian motifs of machinery, material, or clothes but the story may employ them in a modern way, mixing centuries
  • LBGT--main character is part of the lesbian, bi, gay, transgendered community
To keep this short, I only gave very limited concise definitions and suggest looking them up in more detail. For writers, my advice is to pick 1 or 2 genres to be your main focus. For example, in my upcoming book dystopian is the focus as it occurs in the future when the country has fallen into turmoil. That is the main focus and the driving force behind the conflict. It also centers around the romance between two people whose destiny and relationship are determined by these dystopian parameters. Their world shapes their romance.

Next, if you want to genre-blend even more, pick up a few attributes or themes from other genres but keep it limited since some readers get a little startled or annoyed at books that aren't at all what they expected. For example, I use a problem in our society with the environment and my characters are trying to be the solution, hence eco-fiction. And I use sci-fi because my characters are "different" in that they are genetically modified. But these are minor details when it comes to the fact that the entire story centers on survival and love in a decimated world.

What books have you read or written that genre blend?

YA Book Review: Upon Broken Wings

YA Book Review: 
Upon Broken Wings

Although this book’s beginning is hauntingly depressing, taken as a whole it is inventively brilliant, and ends with an uplifting message. I felt as if I were reading a cross between literary fiction and commercial fiction, stuck between an art form and a book for entertainment, much as the characters Andrew and Kiernan are trapped between damnation and salvation.

Kiernan’s younger brother, fourteen-year-old Casey, spins a tale of utter sorrow and redemption by looking back in time with the help of omniscient angels. Andrew, a fourteen-year-old boy with autism, loses everyone he ever loved and is left alone in a cruel world with only Kiernan who secretly cares about him. Yet Kiernan’s love for Andrew comes much too late and with a high price. Bound in separate simultaneous suicides, Andrew must recall and come to terms with his past while in purgatory and Kiernan must find his way back to life while struggling away from a demon in the borderlands, for he is not quite dead nor alive. Being bound, Andrew must find the one thing that eluded him in life and use it to save Kiernan’s life: hope.

First, this book is mainly for those who aren’t sensitive to depressing or serious topics. The first third of this book is utterly full of darkness, despair, and social topics such as autism, homosexuality, death, suicide, alcoholism, bullying, and hate crimes. But this was necessary to show how hard it would later be for Andrew and Kiernan to find hope. It is very authentic when it comes to these topics, well-research or experienced. And although this book is starkly realistic, you have to be open to fantasy or religion to enjoy this book. The world building is phenomenal and packed with symbolism--landscapes of purgatory as beautifully serene, borderlands as terrifyingly dry. Also, this book is not for the untrained reader. Personally, I didn’t find it difficult to figure out the timeline, who was whom, or the shifts into other characters’ heads, but I can see how some readers might get lost. The narrator often uses foreshadowing to help readers figure out what is going on while it cushions the blow since readers can surmise what events could follow.

Although some might have to read carefully, this unique narrative style is actually what I liked most about this book: a boy from the fringes of the action telling a story but given direct information from celestial beings. Casey’s first-person account gives readers a personal experience and yet we get that all omniscient god-like detail of others’ thoughts. The style of the prose itself was incredible as well, pushing the boundaries towards literary fiction—almost modern in its straightforward tone and yet post-modern in its disjointed, shifting narration. And yet, there are these times of heightened emotion, with poetic descriptions and profound realizations that shake you to your core, mind blown.

If you like a cross between fantasy and reality and don’t quake in the face of sadness, then this book is a must read. It is a mind-blowing book you’ll likely never forget.

Click here to buy this book

Tips for YA Lit: Point of View (Part 3)

Tips for YA Lit: 

Point of View 
(Part 3)

This 3-part blog won't be only tip giving, but also showing the struggles that arise with narrative point of view in young adult literature. Narrative style can make or break a book and turn off some readers, at least for me. Part of the narrative style consists of point of view, meaning the way in which the story is told or the lens of the storyteller. There are three commonly used points of view (I'm skipping second person "you" as it isn't very popular in novel form) defined in bold below followed by pros and cons when it comes specifically to YA storytelling. You can find other POVs here (Part 1 and Part 2).

Third person omniscient--"He/she" is used by a god-like all-knowing being who can see in every character's mind and sees all the action even when some characters aren't present.
  • Pros--the readers aren't lost at all or have to connect the dots or make guesswork of character intentions. It is clear-cut and allows the author's personality to come through. It is pretty easy to do as you are the one telling readers a story.
  • Cons--a major con is something called head-hopping. This is when an author jumps from one character's mind and thoughts to another character's in a way that makes it too confusing for readers to know whose head they are in. I've noticed some great authors have large spaces, chapter breaks, or asterisks to mark this shift for readers to prevent this. Another con, for me at least, is it doesn't create as much mystery or tension. Imagine if Harry Potter also included Dumbledore's perspective? We'd know the end of the series by book two. The fix for this is to not use omniscience or plan a story not based on the need for mystery, suspense, or irony. 

Popular YA novel in all omniscient POV--Honestly having trouble coming up with any, after researching as well. The internet (or people on it) doesn't seem to get the difference between limited or all omniscient. This suggests it was only popular in the past or in for novels reserved for adults which makes me conclude it is not often used. Articles about the lack of this POV are out there suggesting the cause is due to it distancing the reader from the main character. This ability to connect to the main character seems paramount in YA lit, almost a necessity.

These POVs aren't set in stone. In fact, a lot of authors in out post-modern literature times mix them--Ender's Game, The Book Thief, Upon Broken Wings, and many more. This mixing of POV seems to prove equally popular as first person, so much so I had to actually research books with limited or only omniscient person (without first mixed in). What writers can get out of this is do whatever you want, experiment. If you want to take the safe route go with first person. It is the most popular and teens can relate better. But if you want to be unique try something new. As long as the reader can figure out whose head they are in throughout the book, you've done your job. This makes me want to experiment right now. 


Tales in Publishing: Query example

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