By Trish Milburn (aka Tricia Mills)
Before reading the two young adult novels I'm featuring this month, I can't remember the last time I read two books in a row that kept me up way past when I should have been going to sleep. One, yes, but not two. But that's exactly what happened when I read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
In Shiver, Stiefvater has created an interesting mythology behind werewolves, where the changing has to do with the weather rather than the phases of the moon. The heroine, Grace, has always been oddly attracted to the wolves that live in the woods behind her home. This is strange to many because of the fact that she was attacked by those same wolves as a child. There's one wolf in particular she thinks of as her wolf, one with striking yellow eyes. When an injured boy with the same eyes shows up on her back deck, the truth begins to reveal itself.
Sam leads a double life he never asked for -- as a wolf in the winter and as a human for a few months in the summer. Each year, it gets harder to hold on to his human self, and he fears losing himself to the wolf forever -- which also means he'll lose Grace, too soon after they've finally connected. As their wonderful summer days turn to fall and then winter, he has to fight harder than he ever has to stay human. But with Grace at his side, he might be able to do it.
Though this is a wonderful self-contained story, there's enough of a hanging ending to allow for the sequel, Linger, set to release July 20. Stiefvater says on her Web site that film rights have been acquired for Shiver, so hopefully we'll see this story on the big screen sometime soon.
Author Web site: www.maggiestiefvater.com
Most recently, I finished Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I literally stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish this book because I simply had to know what happened. This is the story of Katsa, who lives in the Middluns, one of seven kingdoms of Graceling's world. Katsa is one of the Graced, which means she was born with an extraordinary ability. Some people are Graced with skills such as cooking or singing, but Katsa's Grace is that of killing. And her uncle, King Randa, puts it to use when he wants to punish those who don't do what he wants -- that is until a new and unexpected friend helps Katsa realize that with her abilities, she doesn't have to do Randa's bidding.
Because of her horrible Grace, Katsa has had few friends. Most people are frightened of her and refuse to look her in the eye. To them, the eyes of the Graced (each eye a different color) are unsettling. But not to Prince Po of Lienid, for he is Graced too, with combat skills. Here, for once, is someone with whom Katsa can spar and not fear his instant death. Their friendship grows as they set out from the Middluns for the far kingdom of Monsea in search of the reason and person behind the kidnapping of Po's grandfather. They don't expect to fall in love or to find a horror so great that even Katsa may be defenseless against it. And Katsa finds out there's more to her Grace than she ever realized.
I really enjoyed this book, and I plan to read the companion book (a prequel), Fire, very soon. Cashore is currently at work on a sequel, Bitterblue, but no release date has been set.
Author Web site: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/
Have you all read Shiver or Graceling? What did you think? What great YA books have you read lately? And which ones are you looking forward to this year?