Monday, 1 May 2017

Easter #SundayYAthon 2017

Over the Easter weekend, I took part in my first #SundayYAthon on Twitter and thought: why not make this my first bookish blog post? So here it is.

The idea of the readathon was to dedicate the Easter weekend to reading as much Young Adult literature as possible.

I started with Caraval on audiobook and this took me most of the weekend to get through. I listened whilst we drove, whilst I cooked and cleaned, and when my eyes got too tired to read any more. I loved this book.

Caraval is the story of Scarlett and Tella, sisters from the island of Trisda. Scarlett has always wanted to be involved in one of the famous Caraval performances: she is fascinated with the magic and mystery of them. Her sister sees Caraval as a way to escape from their abusive father. When they finally get the chance to go, shortly before Scarlett is due to marry, Tella disappears on the first night. She is kidnapped by Legend, Caraval's master and Scarlett has to find her before the game ends and Tella is lost forever. Scarlett finds herself in a world where nothing is what you expect, working with the dark and mysterious Julian, and developing feelings for him in spite of the arranged marriage awaiting her back home. This was a really magical story, far darker than I expected it to be and with so many twists it was impossible to guess how it would end. I've recently discovered that Caraval is the first in a planned series and I can't wait to see how the story and characters develop.

Next, I picked up A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and didn't put it down until I finished at 2am. I was gripped. I cannot say enough good things about this novel. Steffi (a selective mute) is introduced to Rhys, a deaf student starting at her school. Steffi knows some sign language and gives Rhys a way to communicate. In return, Rhys seems to be the only person who doesn't care that Steffi doesn't talk. Their relationship grows into love and makes Steffi feel brave enough to use her new found voice. This makes the book sound like a typical teenage romance, but it is more than that. It is two people finding a way to communicate in a world that places too much emphasis on speaking. It is a girl starting to address her mental health issues. It is also a story about friendship and family. It is brilliant. An absolute must read for any YA fan.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder was always going to be a tough act to follow, but I seemed to be on a good roll that weekend and picked up The One Memory of Flora Banks as my next readathon novel. Flora Banks has anterograde amnesia and does not consistently remember anything after the age of 10. Her memory frequently wipes itself and she has to relearn her life every day from a folder of notes her mother has made. She writes everything down on paper in place of remembering. Until one night when she kisses her best friend's boyfriend on the beach. This she remembers clearly afterwards. Drake is leaving for the Arctic and her best friend, Paige, isn't speaking to her. Flora's parents leave her at home whilst they travel to care for her dying brother. Flora takes this chance to find Drake: the boy who she believes has fixed her memory. For a significant portion of the story,  I was concerned that this was going to end with Drake fixing Flora and them living happily ever after, but this doesn't happen. We later discover this isn't the first time Flora has remembered something or gone on an adventure. The closer Flora gets to Drake, the more she discovers about herself and her life at home. This novel was fast paced and brilliantly written. I loved that the story, told from Flora's point of view, repeated details of Flora's life as she learned over and over again about herself.  In parts it seemed unrealistic (would a teenage girl a with such significant problems really manage to follow a boy to the Arctic?) but ultimately the reason for her adventure didn't matter so much to me: I was invested in the journey and in Flora's story and I loved it.

Finally, I read The Scarecrow Queen, The third in The Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy. If you haven't read the first two then stop here and read them immediately. This series is everything I love about YA literature. In this final book in the trilogy, the Sleeping Prince is trying to tighten his hold on the people; Errin is still his prisoner in the castle and Twylla is forming a band of rebels (the rising dawn) aiming to get her into the castle so she can poison the Prince and end his reign. This was the perfect ending to a fantastic trilogy.

If you made it this far: thanks for reading and let me know what you think!

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