YA—Why I read it more now than when I was a teen.
As a teen, I didn’t get to choose much of my reading. Class reading requirements and other work obligations took most of my time. A lot of the YA works I was assigned to finish were classics like Catcher in the Rye, which was old even when I was a teen. I love classics like Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hallow every Halloween and Dicken’s Christmas Carol every winter, but I prefer Stoker’s Dracula to Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Whenever I had free time as a teenager I chose a lot of adult books, such as Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, Da Vinci Code, and Lost Symbol.
I also like a lot of numerical books for fun, because I was weird and liked things I wasn't expected to read. Some of my favorites included E: The Story of a Number and The Golden Ratio, Double Helix about DNA strands and Stiff about cadavers. All fascinating and weird, and I’m pretty sure I only understood ¼ of each book, but no one told me to read it and that made me happy.
Of course when Harry Potter came out, I lost myself in that world and feeling so a part of Harry’s experience. After that, I read a lot of Upper Middle Grade books, including A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket whose hilariously dire narrator stole my heart.
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (Brandon Sanderson finished the series later on) took up a lot of my pre-college days along with many other fantasy novels, which I later realized wasn’t my favorite genre, it was just different than the assigned reading I felt obligated all those years when people were telling me what to read.
I gradually learned that comedic or gritty contemporary writing is my favorite genre. I love the in-your-face first person narrator that seems to dominate the YA contemporary genre today. Books like Jesse Andrews Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, or Julia Murphy’s Dumplin’.
I also love the gritty style of Craig Johnson’s Longmire series and books with unusual timelines like Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train. Courtney Summers's zombie book This Is Not A Test is one of my favorite paranormal reads and Lisa Lutz's Spellerman novels, about a private investigator family, who spends more time investigating each other than their clients, had me rolling with joy.
I love when writers challenge my literary expectations, like in Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which has no quotation marks used in the formatting and is still flawless to follow. Ruta Sepetys is my favorite historical fiction author, too. I savor everything she writes like it’s a drug, most recently Salt to the Sea. Everyone should read Ruta’s words—everyone.
I honestly have no idea if there were a lot of first person, in your face, narrators when I was a teen. If so, I hadn’t discovered them. If it’s a new phenomenon, I say it rocks and this generation is awesome to embrace it!
I also love how writers continue to venture into new structures and storytelling techniques. Writing has so much artistic variation. By that I mean, like Aimee Bender’s writing that breaks expectations and is still well structured so that the reader isn’t confused. Or in Ruta’s work where you can hear the rhythm of New Orleans in Out of the Easy (Ruta Sepetys) or seeing the good memories float away like smoke from the train heading to the labor camp in Between Shades of Gray (Ruta Sepetys).
I can’t imagine being bored with reading or writing.
Aften Brook Szymanski
Title: Killer Potential
Author: After Brook Szymanski
Publisher: BookFish Books
Genre: YA Psychological Thriller
Release Date: July 17, 2016
About Killer Potential
Seventeen-year-old Yvette Gibbs was just admitted to the hospital psych unit in handcuffs as the main suspect in a murder case, which she refuses to talk about.
Drugs and depression claim her family—leaving Yvette to fight her own demons alone. Adopting the skill of master of passive-aggressive vengeance lands Yvette in the psych unit with no family support, unless she cooperates with her therapist to clear her name, also a convicted murderer.
Yvette wants revenge on the world that taught her to be afraid, claimed her mother to depression, hid her father in a fog of job hopping, turned her brother to dealing drugs, and swallowed her sister whole, but to achieve this she must lie, manipulate, and most of all survive. Pitting her dead sister’s shady friend whom she fears against the man who reminded her she’s not immune to victimization, is her perfect solution to all life's hassles, even if that means she ends up with blood on her hands. Until everything backfires.
About Aften Brook Szymanski
Aften Brook Szymanski, at the age of five, once fell on her bum looking out a large picture window while eating a pickle and people laughed. She thought she was funny, life has never been the same. She’s obsessed with LEGOs, cozy reading nooks, and over-the-knee socks. A graduate of the College of Southern Idaho with an Associate of Arts degree, Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree, and the University of Utah with a Master of Education degree. Learning is more fun than testing, sometimes we have to endure both.
She lives in a very cold Wyoming valley with her husband, three kids, and one unhappy cat, where they are being cryogenically preserved for all time—thanks to how cold it is.
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