Once in a while, a book comes along that totally blows your mind. The Hate U Give is one of those books and everyone should read it right now. Even better, the author Angie Thomas, is a total sweetheart, absolutely bursting with passion. Here’s our chat – and you should totally check out the full article on BookBrunch – but you should also buy the book.
Angie Thomas has shot to literary stardom in recent months, as her debut novel The Hate U Give, skyrockets to the top of the NYT bestseller charts. Set to be published in 18 territories and counting – and already out here through Walker Books – the YA novel follows 16-year-old Starr, who lives between the poor Mississippi neighbourhood where she was born and a posh high school in the suburbs. When she becomes the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, she comes face to face with police brutality and systemic racism
After the intensity of the book, Thomas herself is a slight surprise: a generous smile, regular laughter, and a soft Mississippi accent. Her passion and conviction shine through, however, and she has much to say on publishing, on the importance of books, and on America itself.
The struggle to write
Though Thomas has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, it took her a long time to believe that being an author was something she could do. “For one, I never saw or met any authors who looked like me. Mississippi has a rich literary history, but most of them are either white or dead and I was neither! So it felt like it was something that I, as a black girl in a poor neighbourhood in Mississippi, just couldn’t do.”
This week, I had to hold back my inner Cirque du Freak fangirl when I interviewed master of horror, Darren Shan. We talked boundaries in YA horror, getting shelf-space on a fast publication schedule and the urge to write. You can read the full interview over on BookBrunch.
Very bright and very dark: Darren Shan on writing for the cusp
Darren Shan (real name: Darren O’Shaughnessy) is famous for his YA horror stories: from Cirque du Freak on, so if your child has a penchant for the darker side of fantasy, Shan is probably a household name.
As the final instalment of his latest Zom-B series approaches, we sat down to discuss the light and dark sides of being a teenager, why zombies work with strong themes, and how he’s managed to publish twelve books in just four years.
This fortnight’s Bookmachine article, sponsored by Getty images, has gone live! It’s all about the fine line between honest enough and too much in YA literature. Read it over on the Bookmachine blog, or get started right here:
The Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), an arm of the American Library Association (ALA), recently released the list of the most banned books in the US during 2014. It’s an annual report, but what’s surprising is that, year upon year, these lists increasingly contain YA and Children’s titles.
These challenges seem to be part of a wider movement debating the appropriateness and necessity of more mature themes cropping up in literature aimed at younger audiences. More importantly, it brings up the question, once you leave the parents out: what do young people really want to read about?
There is always a danger, when you have enjoyed the first book an a series so much, that the sequel is going to be a disappointment. This was not the case with Catching Fire. In fact, I would go so far as to say I enjoyed it even more than The Hunger Games.
Having beat the system in the 74th annual Hunger Games of Panem, Katniss Everdeen has returned to District 12 with her fellow victor, Peeta Mellark. Living in the Victor’s Village, they barely talk to each other, and Katniss has returned to hunting daily with her best friend Gale Hawthorne, outside the boundaries of District 12. However, as Katniss and Peeta’s Victory Tour commences, President Snow, leader of the overruling Capitol, pays Katniss a threatening visit. With the lives of her family and friends in danger, Katniss becomes the centre of a political storm brewing across Panem. Seen as a symbol of rebellion, she is thrown back into The Hunger Games for their 75th year, along with her fellow competitors, all previous victors themselves.
This book made me want to fall in love. Shadow and Bone, for all that it is a fairytale in the darkest sense, reaches out to something soft and hopefully romantic that Young Adult readers will be able to identify with – and which adult readers might enjoy rekindling too!
Part one of Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy, Shadow and Bone follows the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan in the fantasy country of Ravka. When the life of Alina’s childhood friend Mal is put in danger, she saves him by unleashing a unique gift she didn’t know she had. Because of this gift, she is taken into the fold of the beautiful and powerful Grisha. Caught between their leader, the terrifying but magnetically seductive Darkling, and her loyalty to Mal, Alina begins to realise she is surrounded by lies. As she becomes more and more compromised by her feelings, her powers draw her into a dangerous political game, the results of which could tear the world apart.