What is A/S Reading? – No. 20

The staff of A/S has been OH MY GOD HOW DO WE HAVE TIME TO SLEEP busy lately. Luckily, we love the things we have been busy with, like: launching Issue 3 with our friends at Book Court, attending the Brooklyn Book Festival, supporting female writers, and last (but certainly not least), doing a terribly interesting interview with Sabotage Reviews. But, we did manage to sneak little readin’ in there, too. (Well, a few of us did. Not sure what those *other* slackers have been up to.) So, this is: What is A/S Reading?


John M. Cusick, Managing Editor voted Least Likely to Survive the Apocalypse, is reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano, part 1 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy.

In a dystopian near future, the human race has crippled itself with nuclear war and overzealous genetic modification; no one lives past the age of twenty-five. Sixteen year-old Rhine is kidnapped from her squalid street and sold as a bride to the rich and reclusive Linden. Rhine’s new life of captivity is one of luxury and comfort. But is everything as it seems? If you’ve read any young adult literature in the past ten years, you’ve probably already guessed No, It Is Not. But Wither is a novel of surprising depth and complexity. Underneath the tortured heroines and mysterious boy toys, complex thematic structures emerge. This novel can be read for dark, creepy fun, or on a much deeper level. I’m finding it hard to put down.

Publicist Vicki Lame (who voted John Least Likely to Survive the Apocalypse) just finished–very happily–Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina.

I finished this book mere minutes (okay maybe by now it is hours, even days, it depends on when you read this) ago. So, of course I have no idea what to say about it except that I love love love loved it. (Do you think I loved it?) Seraphina takes place in a world (and oh heck is the world-building stellar!) where humans and dragons live in peace, or least some shaky semblance of it. However, when a member of the (human) royal family is murdered and that alliance is called into question, the title character, Seraphina, begins an investigation that threatens to rob her of a precious secret she’s kept carefully guarded for years. I don’t want to say any more than that–so forgive the rather generic description–lest I give away some awesome detail you would have preferred to read. This book is exceptionally well-crafted, and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who likes a sharp, intelligent read with a touch of humor and romance and some dragons. Because, well, who doesn’t love dragons?!

Amy Rosenbaum, the staff member too nice to vote on John’s status in the Apocalypse, has a thing for impossibly long titles, so she read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Just a ridiculously gorgeous book, inside and out. (Hey, Web-Lady! Can a girl get a visual aid over here? [Web-Lady: I recommend Google. *winks*]) Ari is a loner with a lot of questions and not a lot of friends. Dante is intellectual and irrepressible, the one person who can seem to get through. After Dante offers swimming lessons to a brooding Ari, everything begins to unfold. Saenz hit me in the heart with Ari and Dante’s story, beautifully capturing the bullshit and brilliance of being a teenager. (I still don’t understand how he pulled off prose that is simultaneously literary and completely accessible.) Two more things separate this book from the pack: The protagonists are both Mexican-American and they live in El Paso, TX. Their frequent forays into the desert put me into a fit of envy. A finely drawn book about friendship, family, identity, generational secrets, and the ways we touch the lives of other people.

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