Wrapping Up This Summer’s Teen Finales
September 05, 2012
This summer saw the conclusion of several blockbuster young adult series. Like so many of our customers, I tracked my progress through the holds list on a daily basis, waiting for the anticipated conclusions to roll in. With that admission comes another if you hadn’t guessed it already. I am an adult who reads young adult fiction, and I know I’m not alone.
You out there—yes, you. I see you shyly skulking around the fringe of the young adult collection. You read Harry Potter? That’s okay. Me too. You read the Twilight saga? Join the club. What’s that? You read the Hunger Games more than once? Let it all out. You are among friends. Why do we love teen fiction? Who can say? Maybe, it’s a surefire way to never grow up. What if Peter Pan didn’t just have the fairy dust? What if he was reading Holly Black’s Curse Workers trilogy? The boy who never grew up may have just been reading tales of others who never grew up.
Now, loving the teen-tastic tomes and commenting on them critically are too separate situations. I can love them. I can even recommend them. But, is it okay for me to review them? They weren’t written for me, I know. I’ve hesitated in the past, but I think I’ll toe those waters now. After all, I know I have peers out there who might be curious. And teens, if I have missed the mark, don’t waste a second letting me know. I love a good debate.
So, I will start with the three I was looking forward to the most. One surpassed my expectations and shined above the previous volumes. Another surprised me and took the story in a totally different direction. There was even one utter and complete disappointment. Oh well, they can’t all be Mockingjay.
Rapture by Lauren Kate
Oh me - Oh my, I fell in love…
As someone who does not revel in novels of romance, I had a tough time with the first four installments in Lauren Kate’s tale of star-crossed love between the mortal girl, Luce, and the fallen angel, Daniel. There was something there that kept me coming back, as I moved forward despite lukewarm feelings. I loved many of the fringe characters just enough to stick with the series. Arrianne, the goth-styled, fallen angel, gal-pal of our heroine made me laugh, and I even shed a tear for her in Fallen in Love.
Rapture didn’t need the comic relief or telling moments from the B cast. It absolutely held its own. From the first page to the last page, I was sucked in. This finale had a run-for-your-life pace, real action, and the chemistry was finally there for the main pair. In Rapture, Luce and Daniel must each search with their shared history to uncover the site of the original Fall, where the angels fell from heaven to Earth. If they are to foil Lucifer’s attempt to unmake the world around them, Luce must remember her beginnings and how she first met Daniel. The twist at the end – no I won’t spoil it – was actually a twist. I didn’t see it coming. You got me Lauren Kate.
The author does a particularly good job of weaving her fiction around other, well-known stories, but this was undeniably new ground. The writing was superb, and the end was fitting of the hype surrounding the book’s release. If you haven’t read Lauren Kate’s angels in action, I recommend it. Just keep a Kleenex or two handy.
The Kill Order by James Dashner
Post-apocalyptic nightmare? Don’t mind if I do.
To be fair The Kill Order was really a prequel and not the end of a series, but since this will be the last book published by the author from this world, it felt like more of an ending than a beginning.
Having just finished The Death Cure, I needed The Kill Order to keep the frenetic pace up and the story alive in my mind. The first chapter did not disappoint, as I got a glimpse into those moments before Thomas was sent up into The Glade. Very exciting start indeed, but then the story took a journey to a place 13 years before.
And with that jumping back and forth, James Dashner found that old familiar rhythm. Apart from the first couple of pages, the characters are new, and I liked Mark and Alex as much as I ever rooted for Thomas. While I wanted more Maze Runner, it was great to get so much back story and answers to questions left up in the air after The Death Cure.
The book was complete enough in its scope that The Kill Order could have been a standalone novel. It was dark, played out at break-neck speeds, and gave new life to a story I thought I had come to understand.
Nevermore by James Patterson
If it was asked of me, "Will you read another James Patterson series?," then my answer would be, "Nevermore." Okay, there was some cheese factor there, but seriously…this one missed the mark.
I loved Maximum Ride and the other ragtag members of her flying family instantly. Who wouldn’t love six, sardonic, mutant bird-kids just trying to survive being eradicated by the same group of mad scientists who first gave them their wings?
Nevermore was book eight in the series and had long-since been billed as the end of Maximum Ride. I loved the first four books, but as is often the case with longer series, the plot lines started to repeat. The story lost its traction.
I, like so many fans, hoped for a happy ending for our long-suffering flock and resolution to many, MANY questions. At the end of the day, Mr. Patterson phoned it in. It was like he rehashed every previous story arc in an attempt to fill the void. Jeb is evil again, probably. Ari is back again…sort of. The bird kids have to run for it, again. And in the end…it simply ends. No explanation—just the finale. The world ends, sort of, and the bird kids remain, I think. Even the ridiculous love triangle remains mostly unresolved.
Some series carry on longer than they should and this is definitely one of those cases. The action was mediocre. My questions are unanswered and the plot, if ever there was one, is lost at the bottom of the pile of crumpled ideas in Mr. Patterson’s home. My thoughts? Skip it. There are too many other choices out there. Want altered heroes, trying to stay two steps ahead of annihilation? Read Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Maximum Ride – R.I.P.
What grand finales surpassed your expectations? Which ones failed from page one? Vent away. We want to hear you opine.