Archive for the ‘Meta’ Category

Notes from “Before and After Harry Potter: YA and Fantasy”

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Our Epic HP Reread may be on hiatus, but last Thursday the Center for Fiction hosted a panel discussion on young adult fantasy, “Before and After Harry Potter: YA and Fantasy,” and naturally I attended. The panelists were long-time Active Voice favorite Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, and Chris Moriarty. The panel was moderated by Delia Sherman.

I took as thorough a set of notes as I was able, given the mediocre quality of my pen and the fast pace of the conversation. So alas, a few names on lists of favorites and recommendations and whatnot may have been lost.


Semi-Meta Post: Things I’m Excited For

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

The great thing about this blog is that it helps me keep track of what some of my favorite authors are up to (and is, in fact, how I discovered some of them!). In something resembling chronological order, here are some upcoming books (and a bonus movie) that I’m on the edge of my seat, anticipating:

Bruce Coville’s The Unicorn Chronicles, Book 3: Dark Whispers
Release Date: August 1
To be up front about it, Bruce is pretty much my favorite ever. This is the third book in what will probably be a four-book series (though originally it was only supposed to be a trilogy), and it has been a long time coming. I absolutely love the first two books in the series and am intensely excited for the next installment. If you have a fondness for unicorns and dragons or for portal fantasy stories, this is definitely something you should check out.

Justine Larbalestier’s How to Ditch Your Fairy
Release Date: September 16
Justine is also totally fantastic. Her blog is so much fun to read that I can’t wait to see her actually do humor, and so far she’s gotten nothing but positive reviews. I will be snatching this one off the shelf as soon as I can find it, and hoping she does a signing somewhere in the city so I can fangirl at her in person.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games
Release Date: October
Collins wrote the knock-out fantastic Underland Chronicles, which I think are probably the best books I’ve blogged about since AV has been around. And her upcoming trilogy is a dystopia with a teen girl protagonist… In other words, pretty much my very favorite things! All the reviews I’ve seen on this one have described it as intense, exciting, and gripping, and I’d expect nothing less after the Gregor books.

Movie: The City of Ember
Release: October
Speaking of dystopias where a (pre-)teen girl (and a boy) saves the world, The Books of Ember are great. The movie trailer and the stills all look fantastic, and I’m a Bill Murray fan and was excited he got involved in the project. I’m actually skeptical about how well this will do in the theaters, but I will definitely see it. (And, as a double bonus, there will be a fourth Book of Ember released sometime in the fall, according to the author’s website. Score!)

So that’s my list. What’s everyone else looking forward to?


Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Active Voice now has an official Comment Policy and Spoiler Policy. Please read them both!

We’ve also added Debbie Reese’s awesome blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, to our blogroll. Remember, we’re always looking for other sci-fi/fantasy and/or children’s/YA-reviewing blogs, so if you’ve got one, let us know!

Won’t someone think of the children? And should they, really?

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Here’s something that’s come up a few times in the debate over Twilight, and I’ve been mulling over it for a couple of weeks: Does a writer have a responsibility to, for lack of a better phrase, set a good example for his or her readers?

My stance with Twilight is that it depicts as its central point a relationship with abusive tendencies. You are free to disagree with me, but let’s talk about a hypothetical book that does depict an abusive relationship. Or, say, drug use or anorexia or racism or gang violence or what have you. Is it an author’s responsibility to make it clear that such behavior is bad? Or is the author’s only responsibility to tell a story as well as he or she is able?


Meta: Cover Blurb No-Nos

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

I have actual review posts in the works, including one of the latest Sisters Grimm, but I wanted to take a minute to speak more generally of books. Specifically, what makes me put books down without buying them after reading the back cover blurb.

I picked up two books in the store the other day and immediately put them back down because according to the back cover, they both revolved around three male characters. I will happily read and enjoy books with a male protagonist (the Gregor books were probably the best things I read all last year), but if there’s no female character important enough to be even mentioned on the back, I move on.

I also picked up – and put down – The Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda. According to the blurb on the back, it’s about a boy who inherits a music box from an elderly relative, which is governed by strict rules, and his uncontrollable girl cousin, who breaks those rules and releases an evil sorceress that the children must then defeat. You know what? I am sick of the trope of boys respectfully following the rules of magic and girls breaking them willy nilly because apparently that’s just how girls are. I’ve been sick of it since Eve and Pandora were blamed for bringing evil into the world. (And of course the evil itself takes the form of a woman. Nice.)

It’s entirely possible that this book actually reclaims and reverse that trope. And it’s entirely possible that the other books are full of rich, nuanced female characters who didn’t make it into the blurb, or have no female characters to speak of but are really good books otherwise. But these are the things that made me go: “Hmm. I don’t think I want to read this,” when I looked at the books in the store. And since it does writers no good to have books that are awesome if people don’t want to buy and read them, I think these things are worth looking at.

What are the things that make you put down a book based on the description? I’m not talking about things like “Oh, this book appears to be about a dystopia and that’s not really my thing.” I mean pet peeves or narrative tropes that annoy you enough to keep the book in the store and your money in your wallet. Do you hate wiseass talking cats? Do girls in love with vampires leave you cold? Do you want to punch emo loner protagonists in the face? Share!

Old Review Roundup

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Before we get started, here, some older reviews I’ve done, relevant to this site:

The City of Ember and The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau. Five cupcakes, and a friggin’ cherry on top. (Genre: Apocalyptic/Dystopian Science Fiction)

Uglies, Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld. Four and a half cupcakes for Uglies, three and a half for the other two. (Genre: Apocalyptic/Dystopian Science Fiction)

Bruce Coville novels, including the My Teacher series, The A.I. Gang, The Dragonslayers, The Nina Tanleven Ghost Series, and The Magic Shop series. I’d say the average rating is about four cupcakes. (Genres: Aliens Among Us, Other, High Fantasy, Contemporary/Urban Fantasy, and Fairy Tale/Mythic)

Pendragon, books one and two, by D.J. MacHale. Two cupcakes. (Genre: Portal Fantasy.)

Meta talk about writing and books:

Fantasy Females (Of the Literary Variety), about the roles female characters play in fantasy.

Seriously, What is Wrong With Cinderella?, about Disney princesses, ideas about how to keep female characters dynamic, and a little bit of repeated review of Pendragon.

Recommend Books

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Got a book so amazingly awesome or odiously terrible you just have to share it? Curious about a book’s quality but don’t want to tackle it yourself? Send us recommendations! Right now, we’re picking up books that are a) cheap, b) free, or c) available at the library. In other words, whatever random, shiny covers catch our eyes (and are affordable that week). If there’s a book you’d like to see us read, leave a comment below with the title and author and we’ll see if we can’t get around to it.