One of the pleasures of vacation is curling up with a good read. This summer’s reading fare? The MG/YA novel. Both of my teens are into fantasy, so all three of us enjoyed reading and passing around the books we had chosen.
I chose Susan Cooper’s Over Sea Under Stone, the first novel in her Dark is Rising series. This one is classic fantasy in the vein of C.S. Lewis. Although slow to start, the plot picked up with the discovery of an old map. From then on, it was a real page-turner as the Drew children raced one step ahead of their enemies in a classic Arthurian-inspired quest.
For my second selection, I traded with my son for Sea of Monsters, Book Two of Rick Riordan’s Olympian series. My daughter gave me a hard time for starting with the second book, but I argued that I should be able to pick up any series on book two and still be able to follow the plot. Riordan didn’t disappoint. His book was written in a modern style – first person narrative, lots of voice, and humor (which my son loved). Of course, there was the requisite quest and a cadre of kid heroes, but with a clever twist on classical mythology. This was especially interesting to me as I’m currently working on my own twisted version of the Cyclops myth.
Not only was this fun reading, but also educational from a writer’s standpoint. The authors wrote in two very different styles. I noted how both told satisfying stories while planting the seeds of an overall arc for their respective series. And I gathered ideas as I prepared to revise my own middle-grade fantasy, gaining insight into what works in my novel and what still needs attention.
I’m ready to delve into another book, but my daughter hasn’t finished with her selection yet.
What are you reading this summer? How does it inform your writing?