Well the time has come for me to reveal my choice for Round #2 of the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle. First off let me say how honored I was to be chosen as one of the judges of this spectacular event organized by The Shady Glade. This was by no means an easy choice, I don’t think any of the rounds were easy decisions considering the caliber of work in the competition. Round #2 for me brought together Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl and The Sesaon by Sarah MacLean. Two amazing young adult works that both have their die hard fans and speak for themselves in their popularity and readership. Two things crept into my mind as I read these two books…both had me on two big points.
1.) I’m a Southerner (Score a point for Beautiful Creatures)
2.) I am a fanatic of Jane Austen and the Regency period (Score a point for The Season)
However while I saw these two facts about myself as points for each book, I tried to look deeper and be as objective as I could about the novels and which I truly felt was a better piece of work. I also had my knowledge of the South and Regency England to guide me, meaning it could prove not to be a point for the book if the book did not exemplify “what I know” well. In the end I tried to chose not which had the most sales, was most popular on Twitter or represented my own tastes in writing but which offered a fresh, well written new voice in young adult literature. I felt I had to look beyond just the enjoyment of the book since almost all the books in the battle were enjoyable reads. I had to see which was a unique voice, well written and above all an entertaining read for young adults.
My choice in the end had to be The Season by Sarah MacLean. Maclean is truly a master of dialogue and not only general dialogue but period dialogue which can be extremely difficult to master. She writes like words are spoken…like conversations are whispered. Reading her dialogue aloud only confirmed this more and more. Her period research for the work was also spot on and I felt she was able to take that time frame and weave a very commercial and yet appealing plot into it.Even I had my qualms however ….the spy plot was a little too “spy plot” for me and I wish the conflict could have been deeper in nature. However all in all I felt it was a great work that was different, exciting and well written as a debut work. I applaud her for working in a medium often neglected for this age range and often done very badly in general no matter the age written for.
However I cannot stop before I praise Beautiful Creatures because I was truly entranced by this work as well. I loved the idea and premise but felt that the book became a little lengthy and at some point I was ready for action that still was not taking place. Also while the south figured prominently in the book as a setting, I felt at times it was used for comic relief portraying it in an unflattering and very stereotypical light. However as a lover of Gothic (The Monk by Lewis is one of my absolute favorite books of all time), I appreciated the true Gothic undertones and the way the authors wove an amazing cast of characters that have taken up residence in my mind for quite awhile after the book has been finished. I look forward to Book 2 of The Caster Chronicles: Beautiful Darkness in October and think it too will be a great success.
As I said a very difficult decision but one in which I felt I made the right choice in the end based upon the criteria I set for myself as a reviewer, writer and reader. However I must admit if writing reviews separately for each book and not comparing, both would have come out with glowing reviews because I enjoyed them each in their own way so very much. And now it is on to Round 3…keep yourself updated as the books battle at The Shady Glade.