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Take 5: YA Horror 2014

It’s October, which means everything is pumpkin flavored or scented and you can’t change the channel without running across a horror movie. While I’m not big on horror movies – I haven’t been able to watch them ever since I saw The Ring because if the scary isn’t going to stay inside the TV box then what is going to keep you safe? – but I still like to read it.

Last night’s #YALove conversation was all about horror (you can find a recap here). Naomi Bates asked what everyone read as a teen for horror and my go to authors were Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Saul. While I still read King and Koontz, it has been a while since I read some John Saul. Last year we shared a collection of Haunted Readings, all our best October ready booklists for you in one place. There are a few new titles for 2014 I want to make sure you all have seen.

Amity by Micol Ostow

Amity is a twisted look at an already twisted story: The Amityville Horror Story. In this version, two separate teens move into the Amity house ten years apart and the haunted happenings bring them together in really disturbing ways. Blood drips, the house seems to stare, and everyone who enters seems to change – and not in good ways at all. Don’t read it alone in the dark.

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

True fact: My favorite short story writer is Edgar Allan Poe and I desperately wanted to name either one of my girls Annabel Lee, but The Mr. was not sold on naming our daughter after a dead girl in a poem. When Annabel Lee’s mother dies, she ends up living with her father, whose experiments have always troubled her. In this new home she meets his young assistant, Edgar Allan Poe.  As a series of murders begin to plague the town, it is up to Annabel Lee to figure out what is happening and who might be involved. Check here for more Poe inspired YA lit. Pair this with The Madman’s Daughter or The Monstrumologist.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

If The Ring taught us anything, it’s that we should never trust a girl from a well. This dead girl from the well roams the streets hunting murderers. A strange boy with even stranger tattoos finds himself drawn to this spirit and soon the two of them are fighting creepy evil – their are dolls involved, it turns out dolls can be incredibly creepy (I’m looking at you Doll Bones by Holly Black). The Girl from the Well takes you from the American suburbs to Japan and keeps you on the edge of your seat while doing it.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

This may seem like a strange book to put on this list, but I think it’s a fitting choice. Afterworlds is two books in one. In the real world, Darcy Patel moves to New York to write her debut YA novel. And the debut YA novel, well that is a haunting read. In the novel Darcy is writing, Lizzie has just survived a massive terrorist attack at the airport and finds that she can now step into the Afterworld, a place between life and death where a madman is hunting her because he wants her power.

Sanctum (Asylum #2) by Madeleine Roux

Dan, Abby and Jordan barely survived their summer at a school set in an asylum, but now they are receiving disturbing pictures of an old time carnival. The three return to Brookline in an attempt to discover what it all can mean when they find themselves once again sucked into a tale of terror. Definitely put this in the hands of American Horror Story fans.

And if you are a horror movie fan, be sure to follow Daniel Kraus (who writes most excellent YA horror) on Twitter for the #31HorrorFilms31Days discussion. He’s sharing his favorite horror films, which you don’t want to miss.

Now it’s your turn: What new YA horror titles are you reading this month? What are some of your favorites, new or old? Tell us in the comments.

Book Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

This summer has been the summer of Ramen noodles at my house, which is a continual reminder to me that I need to write my review for Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. What, you may ask, does Ramen noodles have to do with Scott Westerfeld’s newest title? It was here that I learned that there are expensive Ramen noodles served in New York restaurants. Having grown up in a home where we ate (and we eat)  Ramen because we were income challenged, I was stunned to learn that they were served in restaurants and that they could be expensive. I was also stunned to learn that various things that people do with Ramen noodles. But that, I suppose, is a post for another day. 

Afterworlds is really two novels in one. It is the story of a teen author, Darcy Patel, who is writing and publishing her first novel. Told in alternating chapters, each chapter of Darcy’s journey to get published is juxtaposed with a chapter from the novel that Darcy is writing. One of the most interesting parts of this book is seeing how the real world life of Darcy effects the novel that she is writing.

Darcy’s novel is titled “Afterworld”. In it, we meet Lizzie. Lizzie slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to escape a terrorist attack at the airport late one night. Now, it seems, she can see ghosts. Or something like ghosts as she can slip back and forth from our world into the in between place. There are bad people here, people who are after her, people who want to teach her about this new world.There is a childhood murder mystery, a man who wants to steal the lives of the spirits, and a little bit of romance.

In our world, Darcy is delaying her first year of college and packing up her belongings to move to New York. Here, she delves into the New York YA literary scene, with an in depth look at the journey to being published. She falls in love, she struggles with writers block, she has her heart broken and more. For those looking for more diversity on their shelves, Darcy has a very lovely GLBTQ love story and she is Indian. In fact, at one point she wrestles with whether or not one of the characters she uses in her book is cultural appropriation, an issue that comes up a lot lately in the press for artists like Katy Perry and Iggy Azalea.

It’s an ambitious project, creative in concept and executed superbly. Every teen I have ever seen at an author panel asking all those questions about how do you become a writer will enjoy the insider perspective. 

Robin also read this title. I liked the book portion best, the supernatural story. Robin liked the real world story best. The supernatural story is nice and dark, while the real world story is an interesting look at post high school life and trying to find your own way in a very new world, which coincidentally mirrors the supernatural story. And this is the brilliance of Westerfeld’s novel, the way the two stories are interwoven.

And just for fun, here are 30 Ramen Hacks for you to transform your Ramen noodles. I think it would be great fun to have a book discussion of this title and have a Ramen Cook Off. Or to display the book with some Ramen cookbooks. That’s right, it turns out there are some Ramen Cookbooks.

Coming in September from Simon Pulse. ISBN: 9781481422345

Afterworlds has received starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. Highly recommended.