Aliens are invading the Teen section. Unlike a certain two-hearted bowtie-wearing alien doctor, the extraterrestrial visitors of Margaret Stohl’s Icons and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave mean us harm. Not only will both titles make you want to build a tin foil hat and prepare your emergency kit, they also release on the same day. How do you choose which one to read first?
Icons is Margaret Stohl’s solo debut; it’s the easy first choice for fans of the Beautiful Creatures series. Instead of a complex world in and beneath tiny Gatlin, Stohl builds a complex world in post-invasion Los Angeles. I loved seeing familiar landmarks like the Griffin Observatory transformed. I also enjoyed the insertion of research documents or transcripts in between chapters, as it reminded me of video games where you hunt for scraps of the history as you play through the present storyline. Too many details would give things away, but Stohl has obviously given considerable thought to how the history of her world has shaped its present.
The biggest draw of Icons is the concept of the Icon Children. Read a little deeper and you can see their group dynamics as an exploration of how emotions work within our psyches. Similar to the Casters (from Beautiful Creatures) and their individual powers, the idea of what being a Weeper, Rager, Lover, or Freak means and how it affects every aspect of that character’s life is fascinating. Thus, the book is far more about the characters of Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas than it is about the aliens who conquered their world.
In Icons, the future is occupation and oppression. The aliens may not walk among us, but no one forgets the hold they have over Earth. As the story happens after the invasion, the world you see is the result of years of servitude. Because society has returned to a status quo, Icons reminds me of classic science fiction like John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids.
Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave is a book so gritty you feel sand crunch in your teeth. Yancey drops you into the invasion, as The 5th Wave could happen tomorrow—and the immediacy of that dread is heavy in the air. Described as both “Ender's Game meets The Passage” and “Dark Inside meets The Host,” The 5th Wave is a must-read for all fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games.
Extermination is the modus operandi of the aliens in The 5th Wave. Grief and loss saturates this world—it is survivalist, militant, dark, and violent. Within the first hundred pages, Yancy grounds the tale in realistic details so you feel the isolation of the woods and that quiet stillness that happens when you leave the hum of the city. Only this silence blankets the entire earth.
Both Icons and The 5th Wave have romantic subplots. Both explore the ideas of family and loyalty. Both feature strong characters learning to be emotionally vulnerable and emotionally vulnerable characters learning to be stronger. But Icons is a tighter, more character-driven story, and The 5th Wave is an ambitious, more plot-driven story. Icons made me believe any of us could save the world from aliens; The 5th Wave made me believe it needed saving from aliens.
Read Icons first if: You’re a fan of Beautiful Creatures. You like stories that start smaller and build to big emotional climaxes. You want a story balanced between light and dark moments, with lots of science fiction references and jokes. You like anime. (Especially if you like Sailor Moon.) You get excited about Doctor Who.
Read The 5th Wave first if: You want a gritty, Christopher Nolan-like approached to alien invasion. You loved Divergent. You can’t wait to watch Ender’s Game on the big screen. You play Halo. You want tons of action. The more plot twists a book has, the more you want to read it.
It’s hard to say whether Ally Carter or Toronto gives the warmer welcome as she takes the stage at Indigo Yorkdale. "Hello, Canada! I feel like a rockstar," Carter says to a cheering crowd, who have gathered to meet the author of two best-selling Teen series: The Gallagher Girls and the Heist Society novels.
Part thriller and part mystery—with a dash of romance—Ally Carter's novels are all adventure. They're the kind of books you pick up and don't put back down; the kind that make you feel like our world is as mysterious and exciting as any found in a fantasy or science fiction title. Carter builds books around the troupe of teenagers taking on more than they can handle, and as a result her plots are driven by smart young women who get themselves in and out of trouble. "I write about teenagers. Those are my people," Carter says. "No one is more underestimated than a teenage girl."
The Heist Society series follows the daring adventures of Katarina "Kat" Bishop, whose family business is long cons and expert fakes. Think Ocean's 11 with teens, and you're headed in the right direction. Full of twists, double-crosses, and mysteries, the Heist Society novels are brainy good fun. Enjoyable because the reader is immersed in Kat's world, and even Kat doesn't always know who to trust.
"I like the idea of not everything being spoonfed," Carter says. "I write spies and thieves. I'm a covert kind of girl."
Given this love of action, it's no surprise that Carter's current book obsession is Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. Like Carter's characters, Katniss Everdeen also proves the dangers of underestimating teenagers. Carter found The Hunger Games as a whole to be "so perfect" that she would've been satisfied with the story without reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay. (Of course, she has read the entire trilogy.)
As Carter signs copies of Perfect Scoundrels, the latest Heist Society book, we discuss how Collins so successfully told a story about war and its ramifications. Carter notes how the returning champions in Catching Fire—the movie due out this November—represent a wide variety of people, but all of them have been damaged by their time in the Arena. “If you go to the Hunger Games, it’s going to ruin your life,” she says. “You’re going to die or wish you’d died.”
While Mockingjay emphasizes how damanging the Hunger Games and war are to everyone involved, that message was often overshadowed in the lead up to the book's release with readers asking each other "Team Peeta or Team Gale?". Carter is facing a similar situation. While working on the final Gallagher Girls book, she has had the frustration of readers asking which guy Cammi, the main character, will be paired off at the end. One reader, in particular, was very opinionated about it and told Carter so on Twitter.
“It bothers me as a writer and as a woman,” she says, “when a character’s story isn’t over until she’s married with a baby.”
Teen series readers are known for their passionate opinions on whom should end up with whom—which may have begun with Twilight, and is now a part of the reading experience for most of the popular series in the section. While it creates an easy way for readers to connect with the books and each other, it can also create unfair expectations for authors. Obsessions have a dark edge, after all; they can make us lose sight of things.
"You don't get to make a threat to get the ending you want," Carter says. "You should be surprised by the ending of your favourite book."
She explains that part of the success of series like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Twilight is that fans didn’t know how they were going to end and had to keep reading to find the answers. I have to agree; what makes me hungry for more Heist Society novels is the greater mystery around Visily Romani—or at least who is currently using his identity. (Is it Uncle Eddie? Someone we haven't met yet?) Sparks fly between Kat and Hale, and I'm definitely invested in seeing how that works out, but it's the adventure and intrigue that grabbed a hold of me in Heist Society, kept me turning pages in Uncommon Crimminals, and had me counting down to the release of Perfect Scoundrels.
But I'd be lying if I denied being obsessed with learning what the W's in W. W. Hale the Fourth stand for. When the mic passes to a reader in the crowd who asks if we'll ever find out, Carter smiles and replies she’s having too much fun keeping Kat—and us—guessing.
Team Teen is thrilled to have New York Times bestselling author--and recent Yorkdale Indigo visitor--Marissa Meyer, weigh-in on our Get Obsessed campaign with a guest post on a series she found un-put-downable!
Post by Marissa Meyer (Photo Credit: Jesse Taylor)
This series has everything that I, as a reader, find worth obsessing over.
Exhibit A: A brilliantly courageous and powerful, yet still relatable, protagonist.
Alina Starkov starts out as a rather sickly mapmaker in the First Army of Ravka—but when her best friend’s life is put in danger, she fast discovers a power that’s been kept buried and stifled inside her since they were children. The discovery of that power, which could lead to their country’s salvation if she’s able to learn how to harness it, sends her into a brand new world of magic, politics, and power. It also ties her fate together with the mysterious, terrifying, and terrifyingly swoon-worthy Darkling, the leader of the Second Army.
Exhibit B: A new fantasy world that is as lush and tempting as it is dangerous.
Bardugo used Czarist Russia as a jumping off point to create the land of Ravka, and while elements of language and culture bring a grounding reality to the world-building, there is enough uniqueness to make this country entirely her own. From the hierarchy of the Second Army to the Unsea—a swath of pitch-blackness creeping with flesh-eating monsters that divides the country—this world isn’t quite like any fantasy land I’ve yet encountered, and I’m entranced by it all.
Exhibit C: Hot Guys.
I mean, really hot guys. And holy cow, there’s a lot of them—enough to fill the fictional harem of every book lover. I
counted four in SHADOW AND BONE alone, but in my opinion, Leigh saved the best for Book Two: SIEGE AND STORM, which I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of. You ladies who like them charming and quick-witted, with a healthy dose of swagger, just you wait until you meet Sturmhond. Just you wait.
I could go on and on about the fascinating detail that Leigh has given her Small Sciences, the heart-wrenching betrayals, the breathless adventures… and it doesn’t hurt that I had the pleasure of touring with Ms. Bardugo last year and discovered that, not only is she ridiculously talented, she’s also kind of awesome in every way.
So there are a lot of reasons to Get Obsessed over this series, but I’ll let you discover the rest of them on your own. I can’t wait to Get Obsessed over whatever Leigh brings us next!
Follow Marissa Meyer on Twitter: @marissa_meyer
Follow Leigh Bardugo on Twitter: @LBardugo
And Get Obsessed with Team Teen on Twitter by telling @IndigoTeenBlog your faves!
Readers, it can be said that Team Teen is a fan of Cassandra Clare. This author has published two series: Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices and an upcoming series, The Dark Artifices. All of them feature the world of the Shadowhunters, warriors who possess angel blood and keep the human world safe from monstrous demons. Their world is hidden within our own and filled with intrigue, romance, danger and—best of all— totally delicious snark.
Every time I open a book by Cassandra Clare it’s like walking into a house party (thrown by Magnus Bane of course) where I know and love everyone there. These are characters who live forever in your heart and mind, side-kicks whose voices are so real you know what they would say in any situation.
With the third and final novel in The Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Princess, releasing on March 18th, and the City of Bones movie set to release August 23rd, it seemed apropos to tell you about meeting Cassandra Clare back in November 2012. To give you a snapshot of how lovely Cassandra Clare is, here is how her store visit came to be. She happened to be in Toronto, called up her publisher, and asked if she could stop into a store to meet fans.
Fans drove in from out of town, camping out front the mall in ungodly cold temperatures just to see her. Clare arrived early and invited those chilly fans inside with her, hanging out in the store’s back room before they opened, and chatting with them. The store filled with fans and she answered questions, recorded a greeting from them to the movie cast, and signed books without stopping for five hours—for over 700 fans!
Readers, while I consider myself a professional, I was also one of the 700 fans. I baked cupcakes with character themes written on them. I wore my Clockwork Angel necklace (which my husband ordered me off Etsy for Christmas because while he may not understand my fandoms, he pays attention to my internet surfing) and I got to go into the back room before she emerged to her legions of fans.
Here's how it played out:
- I entered the back room and she was RIGHT THERE, on her cellphone, talking to movie people.
- I froze clutching my cupcakes, grinning like an idiot.
- She smiled at me.
- My feelings exploded.
- There was some time while she was on the phone and the publishing reps read my cupcakes and squeed with me because, guys… IT’S CASSANDRA CLARE!
- They introduced me, I forgot my own name.
- She said she couldn't wait to try a cupcake.
- She noticed my necklace and said, ”Oh, how pretty!”' And I forgot I was a grown-up.
Then she went out to her fans. I was holding a copy of Clockwork Angel the entire time and forgot it was there.Actually I forgot everyone was there.
The obsession with a tale well told starts young for most of us. Somewhere, somehow, a compilation of Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm finds its way to your hand, or the lap of someone reading to you, and the idea of magic with wondrous and terrifying consequences takes root in your heart.
As Team Teen's consummate romantic I confess my first, best, guaranteed obsession is a fantasy or fairy tale--bonus if it’s both like Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series. The concept for this series is quite ingenious: four fairy tales retold and intertwined in the distant future where the heroines must band together to find their own happy endings. In Cinder, a cyborg Cinderella discovers she has a huge stake in an interplanetary war and in the sequel Scarlet, a headstrong farm girl, Red Riding Hood, must pair up with a street fighter named Wolf to find her lost Grandmother in future Paris.
The great power of fairy tales and fantasy is to reimagine the world in a greater scale, with new rules, and pit against it a character who is ultimately vulnerable, human, and worth championing. Often they explore themes of feeling like an outsider. Cinder navigates her futuristic world with resourcefulness, Katsa in Kristin Cashore's Graceling with strength of will, and Seraphina in Rachel Hartman's Seraphina, with a clever ability to solve mysteries. Each of these heroines balances high stakes with a difference that marks them in their society. They manage it with skill, yet vulnerability, temper, and surprising humour so that our compassion for them makes them our hero.
Rachel Hartman's Seraphina paired an external world with an equally compelling internal one as well. Seraphina's sprawling, intricate medieval landscape houses dragons who can take on human form but are baffled by human emotions. Equally intriguing is the mystery inside the heroine's own mind, where a cast of characters live threatening to overwhelm her as she struggles both to keep them secret and unravel who they are.
There's a lovely art form to fantasy in seeing what each author's analogies look like painted large and new in a world unlike our own. And there is a thrill in discovering the bread crumb trail of an original fairy tale in a skilled retelling. These books wake up the first listener of the heart to a story and that is why they are my favourite, my love-at-first-sight reads, my obsessions.
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We’re talking about our book obsessions for the next few weeks here on the blog. I enjoy many books, and I love several, but the ones I will glady confess to be my obsessions are in a different league. They're the can't-put-them-down and stayed-up-all-night-to-finish ones. (Like that time I accidentally read Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken in a single sitting.) I mean the books that feel like they were written just for me; the ones filled with places I long to visit and characters so real that they become friends. While I’ll read a little bit of everything, most of the titles that I feel this way about are paranormal books.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that I love Beautiful Creatures. This gorgeous Southern Gothic weaves magic into a rich setting and has a cast of characters who feel like family. I read each book in the series the instant it was in my hands and then read them again to prepare for the release of the final book, Beautiful Redemption.
In the Beautiful Creatures series the magical world is intimately intertwined with our day-to-day lives—thriving in our sleepy small towns and running beneath our feet through Caster Tunnels we could spend several lifetimes mapping. The book begins with Ethan dreaming of finding his life far from Gatlin, but he comes to understand that belonging has to do more with people than places.
That’s another of the strengths of paranormal—it’s about characters who love across cultures, religions, and ethnic divides. What makes Ethan Lawson Wate and Lena Duchannes’ love so epic is that it is attainable. Easy? No, but possible. And that affirmation is important.
I guess you could say that The Caster Chronicles was my first love in the Teen section, so I was a bit concerned as it wrapped up that I wouldn't find something else I felt as passionately about.
It was a short-lived worry, because I am head over heels for Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. It felt like it was written just for me. I wanted it from the moment I read about its announcement in Publisher's Weekly. Blue lives in a house full of psychics; Gansey spends his spare time searching for a sleeping Welsh King. What's not to love? While I adore the adventure and quest element, what pulls me through the book is the created family of The Raven Boys—Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah—and how their dynamic changes once Blue joins their group. This is a book about seeing yourself, your friends, and your world differently than you had.
All of the paranormal titles are about worlds hidden within our own, secret worlds with action-packed battles that happen when we aren’t looking. These books invite us to be a part of struggles that are bigger than the ones we may face, but still feel familiar. Tessa Gray and Sydney Sage can do things that we can’t, but they want the same thing we do—to find their place and be accepted. (Also to hang out with Magnus Bane.)
I guess that’s the answer to my obsession, really. I love the idea that the world we think we know can still evoke wonder and awe—we just need to (re)learn to see it.
Check out all of the titles we're obsessing over, and #GetObsessed with us on Twitter!
Get Obsessed: Melissa de la Cruz
Get Obsessed: Fairy Tales & Fantasy
Get Obsessed: Meeting Cassandra Clare
Get Obsessed: Guest Post: Marissa Meyer
Get Obsessed: Mysteries & Thrillers
Get Obsessed: Contemporary & Real World Fiction
It may be a blustery afternoon outside, but it’s warm and friendly inside Indigo Yorkdale, where YA readers have gathered to meet Melissa de la Cruz at the Toronto stop of her Gates of Paradise Tour.
This tour is special for two reasons: de la Cruz’s fans helped to determine which cities she would visit through online voting, and Gates of Paradise is the finale of her New York Times bestselling Blue Bloods series.
When I ask if her fans have been more excited about choosing the locations or the series finale, de la Cruz says it was a little of both—but the finale is the bigger draw.
“There’s definitely a different feeling of excitement,” she tells me. “It’s been very celebratory.”
Part of how de la Cruz has been celebrating is sharing the history of her Teen paranormal series. The Blue Bloods began with a phone call from her agent asking if de la Cruz would be interested in writing something darker than her popular Au Pairs series. The idea thrilled de la Cruz, as she’s always been obsessed with vampires—and loves novels by Stephen King and Anne Rice. Beneath her fashionable exterior, she jokes, is “a big geek.”
A firm believer in outlines, de la Cruz originally planned nine books for the series. While she worked on the first one, Blue Bloods, another book called Twilight hit the shelves. Vampires were suddenly everyone’s obsession. When Blue Bloods joined the teen section in early 2006, it was perfectly timed to help sate readers’ hunger for more. And the rest is history.
The Blue Bloods series comprises seven novels, a companion book and a Valentine Day’s collection. The series has been described as "Gossip Girl with vampires," but that simplification doesn’t give credit to the historical, mythological, and location research that has gone into de la Cruz’s books.
However, she is a Gossip Girl fan. While we discussed whether The Carries Diaries might be the next big thing, de la Cruz admits she doubts that there will ever be another Gossip Girl. Her reasoning being that the Gossip Girl TV phenomenon began in the late 90’s, a different era from today.
“Culturally, we’ve moved on,” she explains. Citing shows like Revenge and Downton Abbey, she points out how our view of the wealthy has changed from debutante balls. TV now shows us the rich “as they are.”
I ask her if this tendency to downplay glamour is also evident in young adult fiction and she agrees.
“Fantasy is grittier,” she says. “People are drawn to more realistic stories.”
For example, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which was undoubtedly the biggest Teen book of last year. (It made both the Indigo Teen Blog and the Indigo Best of 2012 lists.) When asked about Green’s novels, de la Cruz says she enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars but her favourite is Looking for Alaska.
But her current book obsession is the adult novel, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s “well-plotted” and “the writing is very literary.” Not just a compelling read, de la Cruz adds that a writer can learn much from Flynn in “how she [tells] the story” and “surprises [the reader].” The book is deeply immersive, de la Cruz explains, a “full experience.”
Watching as reader after reader at the event approaches the signing table with the entire Blue Bloods series, it’s evident de la Cruz has managed to create her own “full experience” for her fans.
The final book of the Blue Bloods is definitely not the end of this experience. A gorgeous graphic novel adaptation of the first novel released the same day as Gates of Paradise. Also, her popular adult spin off, The Beauchamp Family series, has a new installment coming in the summer. Lifetime recently picked-up the TV adaptation of first book, Witches of East End.
Looking forward, de la Cruz has a new Teen book coming out this fall. FROZEN is the first book set in a post-apocalyptic ice-covered world. When I ask her if she means winter in Canada, she laughs and says “no.”
FROZEN takes place in an ice-covered Las Vegas. She and her husband/writing partner, Mike Johnston, describe the new series as “The Lord of the Rings in reverse.” Their series will explore a world where science and technology have broken down and magic is returning.
“It was fun to go completely into fantasy,” she says. While she enjoyed imagining “our broken world,” she assures us that “Vegas is still Vegas.” To keep that sense of realism, she did a lot of research on casinos and gambling so she could write her new main character: a young Black Jack dealer with a dark secret.
Ice-covered Las Vegas? Magic? Sounds like we’ve found a new obsession.
Thank you to Melissa de la Cruz, and our friends at HGB Canada for organizing the interview time. The Blue Bloods series is available in-stores and online.
Cyborgs and Street fighters and Spaceships, OH MY!
A long-time (and beloved!) Sailor Moon fanfiction writer, Marissa’s NaNoWriMo project (a whopping THREE novels) was the start of her Lunar Chronicles series. Now a New York Times best-selling author, Marissa has a talent for new twists on old tales, and for capturing the very best qualities of YA fiction in everything she writes.
The Lunar Chronicles quartet, is a sci-fi re-imaging of four fairy tales in which the four heroines band together to make their own happy endings (and save the earth besides!)
The first book, Cinder, features a cyborg Cinderella—complete with robotic foot--living in New Beijing, a city terrorized by an incurable plague, ruled by a handsome, heart-strong young emperor named Kai, and suffering political duress as the Lunar Queen, Levana, plots a hostile take-over.
Book Two, Scarlet—a retelling of Red Riding Hood—features sassy heroine Scarlet while she searches for her missing Grandmother in future Paris, aided by a battered street fighter named Wolf.
The series will continue with retellings of Rapunzel (Cress) and Snow White (Winter).
Scarlet is set in the farmlands of future France where our heroine of the same name runs a produce delivery service from a spaceship and searches for clues in her beloved Grandmother’s suspicious disappearance.
Enter Wolf, unbeaten in the underground fight scene and looking for legitimate work. He asks Scarlet for a farm job with an endearing vulnerability, seemingly unused to the ways of everyday life...but is he all that he appears? Wolf also has information about Scarlet’s Grandmother and the unlikely pair travel into the dangerous heart of Paris, unsure if they can trust each other, but drawn together with an undeniable and fiery attraction. Scarlet's story collides with Cinder’s in a daring, action-packed conclusion that reveals more of Cinder’s past before she became a cyborg.
The Love Stories…
Linh Cinder is now an escaped criminal, and while Emperor Kai feels betrayed by her lies and compelled by the law to track her down, he can’t stop thinking about her…and secretly rooting for her. And while Cinder hides away her feelings for Kai, she can’t hide her reaction to his sometimes hilariously honest attempts at political peacekeeping with the Lunar Queen (highly publicized on the local news). While Cinder and Kai face many obstacles and are so very different, even separated we can see how perfect they are for each other.
Scarlet is a headstrong and determined heroine with a mouth for trouble and a heart of gold. She sees something in Wolf that she isn’t sure she can trust, but she knows she can’t give up on him. Their growing bond as they head into the heart of adventure is a truly delicious read! Wolf is a particularly well written tortured bad-boy and his protective instincts paired with Scarlet’s impulsive bravery let the sparks fly in this romance that will have you swooning and cheering.
The Writing Style...
Scarlet carries on Cinder’s fantastic pacing with loads of action and a deftly woven mystery that cleverly ties the two storylines together in surprising ways. Cinder’s past continues to be a key focal point but now we get to see it from the perspective of brand new characters, adding depth and context in a fairy tale crossover that still reads like a compelling, Joss Whedon-styled TV series.
Cinder’s struggle to resolve her view of herself as an ordinary person against the heroic figure she discovers is her true identity, is written with a sensitive eye to themes of friendship and inner strength. Kai’s struggle towards free choice in a life increasingly forced by politics and threat of war, is handled with surprising humour, revealing a character relatable, human and entirely endearing. (Can you tell he’s my favourite?)
Scarlet and Wolf’s clash of wills and fierce chemistry makes this second book a spicier read in the best way. And when Cinder and Scarlet’s storylines join up the epic scale of this series is revealed, stacking fairy tales on top of one another, with clever call-outs to the originals, and filled with a cast of spunky, loveable characters, whose individual adventures lead them together by coincidence, but whose bravery and truth make them a team.
I will reiterate my original list whose accuracy holds. If you are any combination of the persons below you will enjoy this series:
- A person who enjoys fairy tales.
- A person who enjoys sci-fi.
- A person who enjoys romance served with a side of snappy dialogue.
- A person who enjoys mystery.
- A person with a Sailor Moon fan tucked away in their heart, yearning for a little moonieness back in their life. (Long lost moon princess anyone?)
- A person in search of a book with something special about it that is nearly impossible to describe but you always know straightaway if it is there and babble sometimes senselessly to all you know about it once it’s found.
- A teen.
- A grown-up.
- A teen grown-up or a grown-up teen.
- This means you.
Read the first five chapters of Scarlet online!
Watch the Scarlet book trailer here!
Check out Marissa’s epic blog tour.
Follow Marissa on Twitter.
Beautiful Creatures is Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's southern gothic tale of a boy, a girl, and a curse.
Ethan Lawson Wate has been dreaming of a girl falling, of her hands slipping through his, of darkness... and he wakes with his sheets damp and mud under his nails. Then the girl of his dreams appears in his classroom, and for the first time in Ethan's life something in his sleepy little town has changed. But Lena Duchannes is Macon Ravenwood's niece, and no self-respecting son of Gatlin should be seen with the Ravenwoods.
What Ethan doesn't know is on Lena's sixteenth birthday she'll be Claimed as either Light or Dark. She has no control over it. Having lived all her life as an outcast, the last thing she expects is to find a place to belong in Gatlin.
A lush paranormal romance with a male protagonist, Beautiful Creatures is as much about Ethan and Lena as it is about their families and their home of Gatlin, South Carolina. The four books of The Caster Chronicles create a world of magic and danger that exists within our own, and they'll weave a spell over you. I've read all four until the wee hours of the morning; when I put them down, I continued to wonder about the characters. When it comes to movie adaptations, some of us count down to The Hunger Games, Twilight, or The Mortal Instruments. But it's always been The Caster Chronicles for me.
Twitter Contest Details
Get ready Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa! Our friends at Warner Brothers Pictures Canada have provided 5 double-passes for an advanced screening in each of these cities on the evening of February 6th. Our contest only includes the double-pass; winners will have to get to the theatre on their own. All of our other standard Twitter rules apply.
Once @chaptersindigo tweets the contest question on Twitter (at approximately 3:05 pm EST on Thursday, January 31), you reply with the name of the city that you'd like to win the double-pass for and include #Indigo in your reply. Again, the cities are: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa. All eligible tweets received before 4 pm EST will be entered into a random draw for the pass to the city indicated in their contest entry tweet.
Lisa McMann's Crash is the first book in her new paranormal series, The Visions. In Crash, a young woman named Jules is haunted by a reoccurring vision of an accident that results in nine body bags in the snow. The vision takes over television shows, billboards, and even begins to play across windows. Jules worries that she's going crazy, and the terror of doubting her own mind is intensified by her knowledge of her family's history of mental illness.
Mixing the pacing of a thriller with a strong narrative voice, McMann uses these visions as a catalyst to discuss the stigma of mental illness. I found Jules and her quirky (sarcastic) sense of humor endearing, it made her real and made me able to feel worried for her as I wondered while she did if she was having a psychological breakdown.
The book sets up a Romeo & Juliet-esque feud between two Chicago restaurant families, and I predict the secret of their feud will have some involvement in the explanation of the visions. This is another strong, quick read from McMann sure to please her fans and any readers looking for an accessible read with a paranormal hook.
* * *
Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Welcome, Lisa! I laughed so hard about Jules and her siblings driving around in that amazing meatball truck. What's the oddest food truck you've ever seen?
Lisa McMann (LM): I think the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile is pretty odd. :) I also saw one shaped like a paddle pop.
ITB: One of the things I loved about Crash was its strong sense of character voice. Did Jules pop into your head fully formed or did you meet her as you wrote?
LM: I don't think any character is ever fully formed until you've reached the end of the book (and then you go back and revise her so she is consistent). But I generally have a good sense of what my main characters will be like before I start writing. That was definitely the case for Jules.
ITB: Given the Romeo & Juliet-level of feuding restaurant families in Crash, I have to ask which is your pizza of choice: Deep dish or thin crust?
LM: If we're talking Chicago pizza, I have to go with deep dish. There's nothing like it.
ITB: Another thing I enjoy about your books is how they use fantastical elements to examine mental illness. (For example, the OCD in Cryer's Cross and the depression/hoarding in Crash.) What comes first for you: The fantastical element or what you'd like to use it to discuss? What draws you to examining mental illness in your books?
LM: The fantastical element always comes first -- the hook, as we call it. Girl has a vision of a truck hitting a vision and an explosion. The intricacies of her life follow. There must always be more layers. It's the layers that make the main character react in the ways she does. As for mental illness in my books, the inspiration for Kendall in Cryer's Cross comes from my daughter, who has struggled with moderate to severe OCD (she, like Kendall, now keeps it in check, but it's still there). As for the hoarding, I've just always been intrigued by a person's need to hoard, what triggers it, etc. So I was studying that and it fit for this series.
ITB: I love Jules' brother, Trey. He's my favourite character. In fact, I loved how Crash was as much about Jules' family as it was about her. Will the next book be about Sawyer and his family?
LM: I love Trey too. He is the brother we all wish we had, isn't he? You'll get to see more of both Trey and Sawyer in Book 2. As for Sawyer's family...not so much. But we learn things about them through Sawyer.
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