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The Worst Books I Read In 2015

bad books running
unbecoming of mara dyer
Original Review

You know, you read about how agents are hungry for new ideas, new writers, for diverse voices, for innovative styles. And then something like this comes along and gets popular and you wonder how much bullshit that is. Hey, I understand. I want to write something that sells. But not like this.

matrix not like this

I can think of very few redeeming things about this book, and they are mere sprinkles. My hate is nowhere near the Jackie Morse Kessler type, but everything about this book feels like a step backwards. The characters are uninteresting and fall into the same tropes as Twilight – girl hates nice guy, then likes him. The guy is blond, good-looking, foreign (but not too foreign, like one of those brown-skinned countries) and falls in love with her, even when she treats him like shit and shares nothing with him. He has to make every move, instigate every decision, take every action that drives the plot.

Meanwhile the girl whimpers like a wilting flower. She is weak, weak, weak. So weak I was expecting someone to say “Your princess is in another castle.” She makes half-hearted attempts at feminism and then melts into quivering Jell-o when he touches her face. Like the way to “fix her” (from the damage which is called “just living life”) is to fall in love. And of course, there’s the bully, the queen bee bitch, a “kidnapping” that goes nowhere and no one tells anyone about, the magical negro (really a Santeria-practicing Hispanic, but same diff), heavy-handed teenage rape, meaningful dreams, undiscovered powers, and worst of all, no conclusion. No one learns anything, and no part of the story reaches a culmination. Gotta sell those next two books!

And the pull-in, the fact that she can somehow telepathically kill people and he can heal, goes NOWHERE. Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing has better direction than this book. It’s not that the characters or story is boring. It’s that they’re filled with incompetence. The author isn’t, but she picked a wrong story to tell.

castle in the attic winthrop
Original Review

What do you get when you give a kid a magic dollhouse that can reach into the past and make dolls into real people? No, you don’t learn to see things from a different point of view or gain a better understanding of foreign cultures. You kidnap your nanny and keep her in the dollhouse so she never leaves you.

The concept is sound. The characters are not. He’s a boy gymnast who gets a toy castle that’s like The Indian in the Cupboard. So instead of using it to discover more about history, he uses it as a prison. Kid’s like a little Ariel Castro.

Okay, I exaggerate. The second half of the book, he’s trying to fix his mess, so he gets small, and transports to the medieval world the castle came from. He has to find the “evil king” and undo his magic. So after a King Arthurian quest, he gets there, and applies for a job as the court jester, thanks to his gymnastics. Stuff happens, and the bad guy dies in a not terribly noteworthy climax. I guess this book had a bunch of sequels, but I don’t know how. I hope the author changed characters.

ernest cline armada
Original Review

I don’t know if I can call this book bad so much as disappointing. But it’s my blog, I’ll say what I want.

This book has the opposite problem of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The characters are good enough, but the plot is dull. The main guy experiences no obstacles, and it’s as linear as the shoot-em-ups it’s based on. The second big problem is that the plot is a rehash of “The Last Starfighter” and “Ender’s Game”, just with modern technology. MMO’s instead of arcades. There are empty plot threads – character aspects that mean nothing and have no impact. 80’s references do not make a story. Not even comparing it to Ready Player One, it’s still a story with a lack of originality and absent of joy.


lorraine wilson confessions of a chalet girl
Original Review

I barely count this as a nominee, because it was free and a novella. I felt the need to mention it because it got one star, and I couldn’t leave it out when Armada got two. But unlike the others, I didn’t feel hurt by this book. It’s romance, erotica, and such books are indulgences. The story doesn’t make sense — they do things even lust-minded zombies wouldn’t rationalize. But this book wasn’t traditionally published. It didn’t go through the filters. It’s meant for direct audience consumption.  Anyone who wants to pick this up is not going to worry about any reviews.

The Top Three and Bottom Three of 2014

2014 with books

When I rate books, I use the “desert island” test: three stars or above means “if I was stuck on a desert island and could bring infinite books with me, I’d put it on the list”. If I decide I wouldn’t bring it with me, it gets two or less.

Well, this year didn’t have any one stars for finished books and very few unfinished. But also, not many five star books. I guess it was a middling year for me. That or I’m getting more critical.

However, I need to recognize a certain work: “Y: The Last Man“. This, and another, were the only two things that got five stars this year. But I didn’t count “Y: The Last Man” in my tally because it’s a comic book/graphic novel/what-have-you. Is that fair? I don’t know. But I do believe it’s one of the best stories I’ve read. Five stars just for taking a high concept and executing it well. Now to the books.

The Best Things I Read In 2015


It’s got clever plot, humorous characters, and a driving action plot. Even with it’s biggest flaw — trying to translate very visual action into literature (as if baiting Hollywood) — the epic story stays down-to-earth with its main character, a guy with strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. The author manages to make a giant plot easier to swallow by coating it in YA. And the resulting dish is delicious.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

There’s something about this story that keeps me thinking about it. The story gets doled out in pieces, switching between different flashbacks, timelines, and perspectives. But the emotional ennui of being a teenager, the real-life details and grit, reminds me that it’s one of the best YA books I’ve read. Sometimes being a teenager is just a matter of day-to-day survival. It’s difficult to create a YA story that fulfills an angsty character without making him or her too whiny (Speak, Dante and Aristotle Discover the Universe). It’s a fine balance that’s easy to topple. But when it works, it stays with you forever.

Candy Girl

Naked chicks and sex. In my home state, no less. Nuff said.

All right, I’ll say more. I think what struck me the most was the use of elaborate similes. At times, it was tiresome. At others, infinitely clever. It’s not heavy, it’s about a subject I’m interested in. It contains good information while staying colorful and light. It can be easy to devolve into cynicism and pettiness as I’ve seen firsthand (A Stripper’s Tale/Tail by “Diamond”). I got a much better idea of the sex industry from this than other books on the subject.

The Worst Things I Read In 2015

The Sky Is Everywhere

Everyone seems to love this book. It made me gag. Fucking hippies with their fucking hippie problems and inability to recognize what are problems and what aren’t. Combine that with a cliche conflict of “which boy should I choose?” and you’ve got a book that decided it was precious before anyone else had a say.

The 13th Floor

I hate to do this. This person is trying her best, I’m sure. It’s just that I gotta be honest. The book is just not that good. Maybe I’m not the right audience. Maybe I have impossibly high expectations.

Vegan Vampire Vaginas


With a title like that, you know it’s got to be good. Someone on Goodreads sent me a message, asking me to review it since I’ve read some bizarro fiction. But unlike The 13th Floor, I have no compunctions about writing this one off. If you solicit someone for a review, like reading someone’s diary, you deserve what you get. Even wacky stuff has to keep a reasonable amount of characters, have a coherent plot, and motivations that make sense. It’s not just some weird comic book dream logic with as much offensive stuff as you can stick in.

The Books I Read: November – December 2014

bookshelf books

me earl and the dying girl
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

It’s kinda funny. It eschews notions of romance, and really, it’s more about the friend, who reminds me of Tony Goldmark. I couldn’t get that image out of my head — the deadpan, Internet snarker-troll, self-deprecating, black comedy hamball.

And that’s what the book is really about. This guy is a amateur filmmaker and it talks about his love of weird, foreign, independent cinema and his friendship with Earl, a black urban youth. And in the background is Rachel, an acquaintance who is forced by Tony’s mother to hang out with because she’s dying of cancer. The story’s not about her, but about Tony making films and then showing them to her. It’s more about his student film-making.

I think it was published as a response to YA death-roms like “The Fault in Our Stars” and “If I Stay”, but it’s more like a parody of “A Walk to Remember”. The thing is, at the end, I asked myself “did anyone learn anything?”, “did anything change?” And I’m not sure anything did. Which may have been the point, but as far as the story goes, it left it a little hollow for me. Which was disappointing, because it started so well.

13th floor christine rains
The 13th Floor by Christine Rains

I feel like this is meant for a middle school audience. Its a collection of short stories, but all the plots are mostly the same — paranormal romance. But it’s not really romance, it’s adventure. Like old-school serial, afternoon cartoons style. And they’re generally cliche. Like superhero stories. It has as much romance as an action movie. Instead of stories about romantic love or keeping couples apart, there’s Greek god tournaments and vampires fighting Big Bad Demons and werewolf girls in pack politics.

It’s an amateur book and has all the earmarks. The writing style involves too much telling, characters without goals (or stereotypical ones), and overwriting/telling the reader what they already know.

patrick rothfuss the slow regard of silent things
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

If you’re any fan of Patrick Rothfuss, you’ve heard about this book and the split decision. In the author’s preface, he states “you are probably not going to like this book” and most reviewers seem to come on one side of that extreme or the other. Sadly, I am on the side of hating it.

The biggest problem is that it’s not a story. It has no dialogue. It has no plot. It has no events. There is one, single character who crawls around the undercity, looking for interesting trash-treasures like Gobo Fraggle, and rambling in abstract, “precious” attachments. If you remember Auri from Kingkiller #1 and #2, she’s not any saner when she’s in first person. You won’t learn anything new about Kvothe or the Kingkiller Chronicle mythology from this book. I couldn’t even find a summary online to help me understand what I’d read better. It defies explanation. At least it’s short.

The good thing is Rothfuss admits this, and that’s fine. I believe that he accomplished what he set out to do, and that’s a big achievement for any writer. He knows the general audience, even the audience of his previous books, are going to have a visceral response to this. There is great beauty and energy in the way that these inanimate things are given empathy by the main character.

It’s a good book for bibliophiles and writers who want to see something different. It’s not for the masses.

clive barker the hellbound heart
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

I think I’ve learned that it’s impossible for me to be scared by the written word. Maybe it’s the medication, maybe I’m older. I hear people who couldn’t sleep after reading Salem’s Lot or The Exorcist, and I just don’t get it. This book is no exception for me.

It follows the movie quite well, so if you’ve seen the film, I don’t think you’ll get much more out of this book. The Horror Guru had a lot of good things to say about both, but I believe that not all stories fit the medium. Horror, as good as the written word has been, just thrives better in cinema. It was very “meh” for me. Maybe it’s too wordy to be scary.

Maybe it’s scarier in concept and theme than the words on the page. One thing that happens to horror as it ages is that the scariness becomes campy. No one takes Freddy and Jason seriously anymore. When you grow up and look at it, it’s just a Rubik’s Cube and a guy who fell on a nail gun.

anna sewell black beauty
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Well, it’s definitely about a horse.

This was a book assigned as reading in either fourth grade or fifth grade, maybe sixth grade. Anyway, it was never finished, not sure why. The reading unit moved onto something else that didn’t involve silent reading. Maybe policies changed.

Anyway, it falls under the category of so many other books I’ve read. It’s just boring and out of date. If you like horses, there’s a lot of detail about how horses were treated and all the equipment and things you don’t think of, like having to brush down a horse of its sweat after a hard ride or it’ll get pneumonia. But it’s lacking any overall plot, any overall story arc or obstacle or goal. It’s just a horse living. More interesting things happen to its owners, but the horse doesn’t get to hear about that because it’s in the barn.

The only reason I can think to read it is if you were SUPER into horses. Most classics are classics because they’ve got some themes that relate to today. I’m having trouble seeing where the equivalents are for beasts of burden. Just about everything we used to use horses for are now done by cars and trucks. Horses are now pets or show animals (or merchandise for princess dolls), and thus, rarely mistreated. I think there are better “talking animal” books out there that fit our society today.

dear bully
Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall & Carrie Jones

When I was at my child’s book fair, I saw this on the shelf and thought, “holy cow, this exists?” I have an interest in bullies and bullying as it exists (beyond the overused cliche seen in movies like Biff Tannen or Scut Farkus). The clincher was the few authors I recognized: R.L. Stine, A.S. King, Mo Willems. Unfortunately, those were the only authors I recognized.

Some are bullies, some stand by and do nothing, but most relate anecdotes or essays about their bully experience. The best thing this book provides is the knowledge that everyone gets bullied, popular people, nerdy people, and adults. It’s nice to know that eventually, all things come out in the wash. This means that the experience is universal. It also means that you get seventy stories of virtually the same thing.

Each essay is only a few pages, and there are seventy-five of them. After a while, the story starts being the same. I think this could have gone farther if the number was reduced and the length was upped. Find the experiences that are truly unique, or more authors that are universally well-known or use a variety of techniques, and this book could have gone a lot farther. Also, there is way too much bias on the female end. I don’t have the facts to support this, but I believe this is a universal experience. As a result, a lot of the stories are “Mean Girls” style bullying. I feel male stories would A) provide the variety the book needs and B) raise the stakes from “shunning” or “shaming” behaviors to physical threats.

girl with all the gifts m.r. carey
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

This book hooked me right away. It started by talking about a girl strapped to a chair, wheeled to her class, then put back in her cell, handled with utmost caution. I immediately thought “Galerians” which endeared me more.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. I was lucky enough to start this book without knowing what the twist was. It’s not a surprise there is one, as the tagline and summary are quite vague. The publishers must be relying heavily on word of mouth for this one. But I can’t talk more about it without revealing the twist, since it happens early on. So if you want to avoid the spoilers below the paragraph, know that I feel the book is a standard example of its genre. It peaks in the beginning and end, but sags in the middle, and doesn’t demonstrate much outside its tropes. In other words, set me up only to be disappointed in the overall story.

Now to the spoilers. This is in fact, a horror novel. More specifically, a zombie story, and not much different than the other zombie stories I’ve read (Monster Nation, The End Games, etc.) It’s very standard. There is a camp where the survivors hold up, and do experiments on the few sentient zombies, which are children. They’re trying to discover what makes them tick and how the fungus that causes zombieism works (reminds me of “The Last of Us”). The trappings I’m talking about are that, like most zombie novels, it’s really a survival story. And like all survival stories, not much happens, as you are just trying to survive. There’s a lot of walking, thinking, bickering, and observing. The “few of us against them” that we see over and over again. Hide out in a house, where are we going to find our food, run and run, but no one dies and their ultimate goal is simply “safety”.

This is where the book sags, and it’s a large portion. I know one of the themes will be that it’s the other human survivors you need to fear more than the zombies. I know that there’s going to be conflict between the protective mother of the zombie girl and the hard-nosed military leader who wants to kill her and the mad scientist who only considers everything in black and white science.

So yeah, mixed feelings. Maybe I’m disappointed because it’s not the novel I wanted. But it’s got great tension, but the plot drags out and doesn’t move past some of the tropes I wish it would. A lot could have been cut out of the middle.

shadowboxer tricia sullivan
Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan

This book has two different halves that have nothing to do with each other. One half is awesome, the other isn’t.

The one that’s awesome is about Jade, an MMA fighter that goes to Thailand for some training (and to avoid a possible arrest after beating up an MMA fame whore). Holy cow, let me repeat that. A book about a girl American Mixed Martial Artist who travels half a world away to the land of Muay Thai for further training and a chance at a title shot. Doesn’t that sound awesome? Doesn’t that sound like no other book you’ve ever heard before? It did to me.

But the other half has nothing to do with this. It’s about a girl who can teleport through plants who’s being exploited by some rich white guy holed up in Thailand to deliver drugs and human traffic to various parts of the world undetected. It’s not even the same genre as the Jade story. It’s a dark fantasy with Thai mythology and beliefs about reincarnation and ghost/spirits and animals. Not what I came in for. And neither character has any relation to the other, either in spirit or plot. They just… meet… at the end.

I would so love this book if this part was excised. Each half has nothing to do with each other, it feels like it was shoehorned in to increase length. I just want to hear about Jade. I care about Jade. I’m interested in Jade. Not some girl who can walk through walls and the old rich white guy “big bad”. I can go to X-Men for that. The tonal difference is too jarring. That keeps this book from being one of the best I’ve read.

The Books I Read: September – October 2014

bookshelf books

I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching #4) by Terry Pratchett

The last of the Tiffany Aching books and an excellent ending to the series. Besides the first, I think this might be my favorite book of the four. Tiffany has finished her “apprenticeship” and is now the resident witch of her hometown. This means she’s taking care of the community the way true witches do — helping the sick who have no one to take care of them, easing the elderly to the next stage of life, fixing domestic disputes so no one knows she’s really doing it. She’s confronting anti-witches and land-grabbers and old fundamentalist ladies who simply don’t agree with what she does.

We see a grown up Tiffany here, making and dealing with being an adult. She no longer has the wisdom and guidance of her fellow witches, so her mistakes are a result of a lack of experience (and a sharp tongue). But she does have the wee free men in her corner. You see her finally deal with some of the relationships that other books have let linger.

This book also borrows more from Pratchett’s existing universe, as Tiffany travels to Ankh-Morpork.  This chunk in the middle seems to be catering to Discworld die-hards. It harms a little of the overall narrative, but the rest of the story makes up for it.

Unlike the last two, this one doesn’t have a big bad or a problematic witch teacher. You get to see Tiffany being Tiffany, rough and gruff, practical but still scared. All in all, it’s a very satisfying conclusion, closer to the magic of the first book.

Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In is Scalzi’s most serious science fiction novel yet, and one you’ve got to pay attention to. It’s got a lot of heady issues. Not to say his other books, like Old Man’s War, don’t bring up existential puzzles. But they usually make up for it with whiz bang sci-fi gizmos or cynical humor. This one, no. It’s essentially a police procedural that involves semi-artificial beings.

At its core, this is a robot story, but without artificial intelligence. A disease has rendered a significant portion of the populace catatonic, but new technology allows their brains to venture out in walking automatons. The Hadens (Haden’s Syndrome is the name of the disease, and becomes the identifier of people with it) have created their own culture, like the deaf and handicapped community.  But the government funding that kept them provided for is about to be rescinded. That means a lot of opportunities for private companies, civil rights leaders, and millions of people who had been getting a free lunch wondering what’s going to happen to them. This is all narrated to the reader through Chris, a Haden who’s new on the FBI force.

It does what a good novel should do, not make answers but bring up questions, much like Gaiman’s novels. But unlike Gaiman’s novels, this one reaches a satisfying, concrete solution. I think the murder mystery was definitely the way to go. It makes a lot of the head-wrapping around the Haden culture (like people who hitch a ride in other people’s bodies) easier to understand and a plot that keeps moving forward.

It’s not my favorite Scalzi of all time, but it’s pretty good. The world-building is at an intermediate level, and the characters suffer from his famous “blank slates, no development, no sympathy” that his other books have. But the fast and intriguing plot will keep you wondering what happens next.

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This book is not for me. I was on board for the first few pages, but I have a hard time getting into story where the main conflict is “do I choose this boy or that boy”. I just can’t sympathize with any character caught up in a dilemma of riches. Maybe this a thing girls go through, maybe it’s a problem they like to read about. But it makes me want to smack them all in the face. Especially in this case, when the drama isn’t even that good.

It has been three months since Lennie’s sister died. Lennie always lived her life gladly in the shadow of her more exuberant sister, including vicarious romance with Toby, her sister’s boyfriend. Now she’s insecure about her feelings for Toby and the new hippie kid who just moved in and has “hella good hair” so he wants him to come on over and shake, shake, shake.

The sister thing reminded me a little bit of Frozen, but that’s the only part that appealed to me. Like others of its genre, the plot is driven forward by misunderstandings, refusals to listen, misinterpretations, and other petty obstacles that could be solved with thirty seconds of talking.

The style is full of trite teenspeak and quotations way beyond their years (Lennie constantly reads Wuthering Heights — isn’t that about a mentally abusive man who marries his beau’s daughter? — but oh precious she is that she reads something so adult). At one point, it’s revealed that the sister was pregnant at the time of her death, but no one raises a hand about how they, as teenagers, expected to raise it, earn money, get a house. Everyone was too entranced by the tragic baby romance.

This is for people who un-ironically enjoy the romances you see in Hannah Montana and The Bachelor. There are essentially no stakes, and the characters are too hippie-dippie to be realistic.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart is a book about what happens when superheroes stop being polite and start getting real. Essentially they all become supervillains, taking over cities and ruling with an iron a steel fist. In fact, the entire city’s been turned into steel and plunged into darkness.

This is the story of David, a boy with a mission against the super who killed his father. He joins with La Resistance, eager to show his skills and the encyclopedia of knowledge he’s been gathering all his life in preparation for revenge.

This book has a lot of action, and I’ve never been a fan of action scenes in novels. The mediums just don’t translate. You don’t see novelizations of The Fast and the Furious (and if there are, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know). But the strengths of the book are the straightforward style and the concrete characters. Each member of La Resistance has a personality and a look (for some reason they remind me of Team Fortress 2 characters). The POV from David’s perspective helps keep the story grounded. For instance, instead of epic battles you lose track of, you see David’s role in it all.

My two disappointments were that it seems overly oriented to a male audience (trope of female character that exists to be girl who doesn’t like him at first but once he proves himself changes her tune). Lots of cars and guns and superheroes and action scenes. The other is that the reason people with powers become evil is intrinsically linked to their powers, not simply a result of absolute power corrupting absolutely.

But the energy and overall fun factor of the concept are going to keep me reading the rest of the series.

Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart

Doesn’t the title sound like a Lifetime movie?

It’s short, but doesn’t have very much plot. It’s supposed to be about a girl who Franz Kafka’s into a fly, so she can know what boys are really like, what they talk about, what goes on when girls aren’t there turning them into monkey-idiots. The thing is, it doesn’t seem like her big problem is understanding boys, but getting people to understand her. She goes to an arts high school where her teacher frowns on her refusal to branch from a comic book style. Her parents spring a divorce on her, then her mom leaves her daughter behind while she goes on a week-long cruise (this makes it convenient to be a fly for a week). She’s not boy-crazy, like I’d expect out of a plot like this.

It’s better than Cycler insofar as learning about the gendered Other. But like Cycler, it doesn’t go as far with the idea as it could, and uses too much melodrama. The titular fly on the wall literally doesn’t leave the locker room, and there is a lot more to teen males than what happens there. It’s like studying polar bear behavior only in the zoo. There’s a significant portion of the text dedicated to discovering boys’ penises, which she constantly calls gherkins. Is this a northeastern thing?  I’ve NEVER heard anyone use the word gherkin, least of all as much as she does.

But it’s easy and short. I think you’ll get something out of it, as long as you’re not looking for much.

Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross

I talked some about this book already. It’s just not a story for me. It’s for complex people who like complex stories. Critical acclaim? Award winner? Maybe, but I just couldn’t stand it. It’s for people who like Dune, Ringworld, and other “essential science fiction”. If you can appreciate that, fine. But every Charles Stross I’ve tried to read has left me bored. I guess this isn’t my place.

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

Nothing special at all. And in fact, kinda boring. It’s just a series of things that happened, and the title makes it sound more interesting than it is. She’s not boy proof, she’s just an anti-social asshole. She’s Miss Independent until some cute guy transfers schools. Of course. But this takes place in Hollywood, so Miss Independent has the added weirdness of mimicking a girl from a Matrix pastiche, so much so that she dresses like her and wants to be called by that character’s name (which is “Egg”). And this character is described as looking kinda like Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

ilia star trek motion picture

She’s a bitch for no reason, and combine this with the weirdness of living with a mother who’s an old sci-fi starlet and a dad who works in special f/x makeup. I learned more about growing up in Tinseltown than anything else. That includes the character and her motivations.

And her change comes unprovoked. It feels like “The Girl Who Became a Beatle” — a forced idea that has nothing to do with the title concept. At least “The Sky is Everywhere” had style. This just has an unlikeable character being unlikeable. I would have rather heard the story of a likable girl with those kind of parents doing a Hollywood movie thing (kinda like my opinion of Landline needing more TV writing).

The Night Sessions by Ken McLeod

Also mentioned in my article with Saturn’s Children. I heard it had an interesting take on robots, but it never got to the robots. It was about a very thick built world around politics and religion, two topics I cannot stand to read about. I’m just not interested in material like archaic religion or the U.K. or the murder of a bishop when Christianity has become a niche religion (I assume.  I really didn’t understand much of this book).

It just wasn’t entertaining for me. It was more work than it was fun. It had no characters. The big ideas were the characters (which I find to be a trapping of science fiction that keeps it from being regarded as seriously as literary fiction). There are just other books I’d rather read.

Single Dads in YA Trend

full house danny stephanie dj

It could be just coincidence, but I’m noticing a trend of YA novels where the father is the one raising the kids and the mom’s out of the picture or the deadbeat. Fangirl, The S Word, The Girl Who Became a Beatle. All have moms as the irresponsible one. Not all these came out at the same time, but they were within the last year or two. Is this a new thing? I have no problem with it, but I have a question.

Is this a literary device for more conflict or is it illustrating a trend in parenting? In all these books, it’s a girl being raised by her father. And the father “just doesn’t understand”. That doesn’t mean he’s not caring or nuturing. It does mean he’s not as “clean” or “proper” as the daughter thinks he should be. But in all cases he’s doing his best. Of course, his best is never good enough for a teen, but when would it be?

But are writers including this because it’s really happening, or because it causes more tension. Because it doesn’t seem like being single dad means much in terms of story. It doesn’t change the plot or throw a curveball. It’s just another “thing”.  So I’m wondering what facet is reflecting the other.