Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What I'm Reading (And What You Should Be, Too)

I know I'm a little bit behind the curve on this one but I just need to say that I am absolutely in love with Rick Riordan. I'm thinking about making it Facebook official.

For those of you who are unfortunate enough not to have heard of him, Riordan is a young-adult genre fantasy writer whose readable, adventure-filled books bring mythology to life by throwing modern teenage protagonists in the path of ancient gods.

I picked up Riordan's best-known work, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief about a year ago (even though it was published in 2005--as I said, behind the curve). The Lightning Thief is the inaugural tome in a seven-book series that chronicles 12-year-old Percy Jackson's journey to save Olympus after he learns that his father is in fact the Greek god Poseidon. Percy Jackson is the kind of series literary agents dream of. With relatable, interesting characters; a hugely compelling premise--Greek gods strutting around New York City?--and enough narrative urgency to give you whiplash; Percy Jackson is a good old-fashioned yarn that has earned its place atop The New York Times Best Seller list.

I just couldn't put it down. It's the kind of book I would have devoured at 14. That, incidentally, is my YA test: whether I'm evaluating another author's manuscript or working on something of my own, I ask if my 14-year-old self would enjoy the story. If the answer is yes, we're usually onto something.

I recently began The Red Pyramid, Riordan's first installment in his new The Kane Chronicles series, and have found my inner middle-schooler just as cracked out with giddiness as he was when I got my hands on The Lightning Thief. The Red Pyramid takes Riordan's superb storytelling abilities from Greece to Egypt when 14-year-old Carter discovers that his father, ostensibly an archaeologist, is actually a member of an ancient magical order charged with guarding (and keeping dormant) the gods of ancient Egypt. It, like its predecessor series, is thus far just riveting.

This is relevant to you (beyond, of course, your being directed to a great read) in that it shows the kind of work that piques my interest. I should be clear: I find value in many genres of writing. Two of my first submissions, in fact (a post on that will be coming later) have been sent to me from a writer with an environmental bent and another who's peddling a coming-of-age high school story, respectively. So my tastes are wide ranging and you should feel free to send me anything and everything.

That being said, I have a passion for really well done fantasy and YA that no amount of time has ever dulled. At 14 I wanted to believe in magic. At 23 I still do. If you can write a story that brings wonder to my heart then you're doing something very right.