What an assassin taught me about writing – the killer story structure of ‘Throne of Glass’

TOG-NYT-Cover.jpg

The hype is everywhere. There’s not a YA bestseller list that doesn’t seem to have at least two books with the name Sarah J. Maas next to them. I had to investigate.

And I like to start at the beginning, look at the book that began the phenomenon.

So. Then. ‘Throne of Glass’ it was.

I picked it up with two parts excitement, one part expectation, and a dusting of cynic.

Hoping for a great read.

 

And, phew, I got it. This is a fab book. So fab, I didn’t want to just attribute its awesomeness to world-building or characters or clever writing. Because there was something else. Something more.

Tension. Timing.

Ever increasing levels of evil and excitement. Heavy-eyelids, can’t-stop-reading, catch-up-on-sleep-some-other-day kind of something more.

So after I’d read it once, I didn’t just reread it – I plotted out the entire book. What did I find?

  • Exponential increase in gruesome deaths
  • Story and character arcs
  • Kick-ass third act.

If you don’t like spoilers, stop now… otherwise…

Continue reading

Proving, once again, that two boys are better than one – ‘The Selection’

SelectionThe latest, and last, of this super-successful series is topping the hot charts at the moment. Past time for me to read the first, ‘The Selection’ by Kiera Cass, and try to deduce the pattern that made the drop-dead-gorgeous gown what it is.

One look at the sumptuous cover and you know what to expect. Romance. And there’s a lot of that sort of thing in YA. Why is this series so deliciously popular? My guess?

  • Fairy-tale meets reality tv – two very successful enterprises
  • Two Love Interests up the stakes
  • Enough sub-plot so you can kid yourself you’re not just reading a romance.

 

Continue reading

A big cyborg-hand thumbs-up for ‘Cinder’

Cinder

Bright and funny? Kick-ass addictive characters? A world where you can feel the heat radiating off the futuristic tarmac? Welcome to one of my favourite reads – ‘Cinder‘, Book 1 in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Yee-ha!

This got on my TBR list after a Penguin Teen Australia event. Once I got past the cover I was hooked – to both this story, and the entire series.

I still haven’t got the book-hook out of the side of my mouth. Did I mention I love this series?

I’m not alone.

So… what works so well?

  • World-building
  • Characters – strong, funny, imperfect
  • Romance – right from the start
  • Happy feel

Continue reading

Learning from the best with ‘Obernewtyn’

Obernewtyn

With the recent long-awaited release of ‘The Red Queen’ by Isobelle Carmody, I decided it was time to have a look where the Obernewtyn Chronicles began – way back in 1987 with ‘Obernewtyn’. I have friends that are human, and I also have wonderful friends that just happen to be books. ‘Obernewtyn’ is one of these.

I was a very Y YA when I first picked up this book, and it took a few years and a junk mail run before I’d scrimped enough money to buy a copy of my own. That was 1994. My copy is the one pictured above. I know. Old school. I’ve carried this much-loved book around with me for decades.

Why?

Why did it work so well? How could one amazing book create such a following that Penguin didn’t care that it took three decades and many unexpected books to conclude? Continue reading

Getting into the mind of Uglies

uglies

I know, I hear what you’re saying… How can she not have read this book yet? ‘Uglies’ by Scott Westerfeld is one of the iconic dystopian YA novels, I’ve heard a lot about it. When I saw it in my local library, it jumped off the shelf and into my book bag.

I wanted to know why ‘Uglies’ became so popular with the YA market. And if, like me, you’re coming to this book well after the rest of the world, be warned that I have spoilers in here.

What did I find? Three themes that I believe led to success:

  • World-building
  • Trouble-making
  • Friend-saving

Continue reading