Friday, December 9, 2011

Welcome to Bordertown-- Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, eds

Bordertown is a place that exists between this human world and the Elvin realm. No one knows exactly how to get there, but it seems like if you want to find Bordertown hard enough, you somehow always find it.

Bordertown is the place for freaks, strays, artists, runaways, musicians, vampires, humans, fairies, elves, werewolves, and more. It’s home for the homeless and a place to fit in for those that have never fit in anywhere else. Magic and the rules of normal society are slightly off kilter there and just about anything is possible.

This book is a collection of stories and poems that take place in Bordertown. Each story is independent but they all have a common setting. Teens who enjoy short stories, urban fantasy, or who are looking for nontwilight supernatural creature stories might like this book. Also, this book contains stories of some of the most popular and awarded YA authors, so even if they’re not super into Urban Fantasy, it could still be fun to read new stories by some of their favorite authors.

A Monster Calls-- Patrick Ness

I read this book around Halloween-time, and the absolutely breathtaking drawings (Jim Kay) made me feel extra creepy good. The story behind this book is as enticing as the story itself, and was what drew me to it initially. Siobhan Dowd, YA author of books like A Swift Pure Cry, Bog Child, and more, came up with the idea for this story, the characters, and the concept. However, before she could write it herself, she passed away. Patrick Ness was asked to take her notes and write the story for her. And that is what we have in this slim tome; the efforts of three people all mixed up into one rather emotional story.

A Monster Calls is a story of loss, day/nightmares, and monsters. It's Connor's story, and judging simply by the illustrations and the initial chapter, one might expect this to be a scary story. It's not. Actually, I found myself tearing up (ok I cried) at some points and being moved by Connor's struggles to fit in, and moreover, deal with the terminal illness of his mother. We experience Connor's life and emotions right along with him. We are brought in and out of dreams and don't really know which truth to believe.

For me, this book would be nothing spectacular without the magnificent illustrations. This is one of these books that tells some important bits of story through the pictures. I'll be interested if it garners any attention from the actual Printz committee because of it's unique (to YA) format. I would recommend this book to younger teens who won't be afraid of the pictures, anyone who is looking for a story about dealing with grief, teens who like sad or gloomy tales, or to people who enjoy fairy tales.