the infinite sea

Summer Reading: Rick Yancey Interview

It's summer, which means I get to catch up on all the books I wind up having to sideline during the school year. First up in the pile is The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey. Book one in the series, The 5th Wave, is one of the great YA titles of all time. An alien invasion brutally wipes out the majority of humanity. It's a harsh novel and it's beyond bleak, but that's what makes it shine.

Publishers Weekly sat down with Rick Yancey to talk about the sequel when it was on the horizon. There are some spoilers in there, so read at your own risk.

I love this gem at the beginning of the interview:

"The first book also had multiple viewpoints. Some readers loved it, some readers were not so keen on it but, ultimately, I felt it was the best choice of how to tell the story because having multiple points of view dovetailed into the whole unnerving nature of the story itself. The characters don’t know who to trust – ‘Are you really who you say you are?’ – and changing the narrators adds to the unease."

Seal of Approval: THE 5th WAVE by Rick Yancey

Seal of Approval: THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey Written by Grant Goodman, 10/6/2014

Oh man. This book.

This book is AWESOME.

THE 5th WAVE has everything going for it: it’s a post-alien-apocalypse novel. It has guns. It has romance. It has valiance. It has strength. You should get a copy as soon as you can.

Everything begins with Cassie. She is alone and frazzled and living on the run. There’s no one left for her to trust, unless you count her gun as a person. Which, all things considered, isn’t such a crazy thought. That gun is a lot of things for her: the means for hunting, a reminder of her family, the equivalent of a security blanket.

Cassie is one of the last humans. She survived the first wave of the alien offensive and the ones that followed, watching as humanity dwindled and their extra-terrestrial observers remained untouchable in the skies. She carries her past like a boulder and the future isn’t looking all that rosy.

Yancey’s novel is a corner-to-corner winner, never ceasing to intrigue and always full of new surprises. You’ll find nail-biting moments buffered by incredibly tender scenes. Because when your world is falling apart, every moment is a big one, and you take solace when you can find it.

Why YA Works for Adults, Part I

Why YA Works for Adults, Part I Written by Grant Goodman, 9/24/2014

You don’t have to hide it anymore. You can come right out and say that you read YA, even though you’re an adult. YA-focused book clubs are popping up in every major US city. Book signings are filled up by post-grads and young couples.

So what led us here?

Part of it is the ongoing nerd revolution. The central tenets of geek culture have seeped into the mainstream. Maybe it’s that the people who loved the stuff as kids are now finding themselves in positions of power and attention. Or maybe that Harry Potter kid broke open a fissure in the collective hearts of humanity and everyone realized that books starring teens can connect to all of us on a very deep level.

Much of the appeal of YA for adults, I’m going to posit, comes from a sense of nostalgia. We’ve had time to recover from the hormone rush and the anger and the senses of loss that run deep. The media we consume at that age stick with us for life. There are studies that have been done and they tie adolescent experience to why we hold so tightly to the music from our teens. It should make perfect sense, then, that a book centered on teenage life will invariably trigger memories of our own lives, the kind that are soaked in intense emotion, that really light up our brains.

This could be for better or for worse. There were moments in Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart that absolutely made me cringe, because David’s social oversights and blunders reminded me so much of my own (you know, despite the fact that he’s busy trying to kill supervillains in a wrecked version of Chicago). And then, of course, there are moments in which you witness a character get something right, and you remember how it felt to finally get something done that even the adults in your life couldn’t accomplish. Read Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave and you’ll get several examples of that. (I’ll leave it vague, no spoilers here.)

This topic, why YA appeals to adults, is one I plan to come back to every now and again. Until then, though, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

What are your thoughts on why YA is taking off among an older readership?