There is a formula to writing YA and if you’ve been reading nay of my reviews you probably know exactly what I’m going to say. Typical, formulaic YA has a lot of teenage angst and pathos. The primary character will magnify every emotion ten-fold, especially the negative ones. There will be a boy-meets-girl storyline with one or the other alternating between true love and earnest hatred for the other. There will be a struggle to be together and their desire … no, need … to be together, forever, will be the only thing that matters in life. And more than likely there will be a death of a loved one somewhere along the line.
This book follows the formula quite well and offers just enough of a fantasy twist to keep things interesting.
But the problem with writing something that fits a formulaic mode is that it also tends to be stereotypical. If you can think of the stereotypes of high school students, then they are here in the book. The cool kids, the nerds, the ‘tramps,’ the mean girl cliques, etc etc etc. Of course the reason these stereotypes exist and continue to be rehashed is because the people exist in real life and are easily recognizable and our YA readers love to identify the stereotyped characters with people they know.
In the case of this book, the characters took priority throughout the first portion of the novel. It was filled with the typical YA affairs and talk but seemed to lead nowhere. There was so much focus on “did you sleep with him/are you going to sleep with him?” attitude that I had no idea where the story was headed. I struggled to stay interested through this. I wasn’t getting anything new or different from every other YA book I’ve read.
But as the story finally developed (the history and future of the teens central to the story), it became interesting and a bit of a page-turner. The science fiction/fantasy element of the story actually made it worth the read, but there just isn’t enough hint of it early in the book to keep the reader interested until the story begins.
Looking for a good book? If you can hang in and wait for the story to develop, there’s an intriguing story here, but you have to wade through a lot of stereotypical angst before anything worthwhile happens.
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When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)
author: Ingrid Jonach
publisher: Strange Chemistry
paperback, 312 pages