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March 25th, 2009

Komodo Dragon Love.

My love for you is komodo dragon love. It is the kind of love that you can only give when you happen to be an endangered species of fourteen-foot-long predatory lizard whose spit is filled with toxic bacterial soup. That makes it very rare and kind of cool, but not if you happen to be afraid of lizards. Or toxic spit. But because my love for you is komodo dragon love, you are not on my list of things to bite. Be glad.

Komodo dragons are cooperative hunters. That means that when a komodo dragon sees a goat, he bites it with his many, many sharp teeth and fills the bite with toxic spit, and then goes back to doing whatever it was he happened to be doing before the goat came along. Komodo dragon things, like reading, or playing with Photoshop, or watching bad horror movies. Or maybe just basking in the sun and frightening small children by being fourteen feet long and capable of eating people, if you want to be literal about things. I'm good either way. And see, the goat? The goat is now full of spit, which is full of toxic bacterial soup. That doesn't work out too well from his point of view, because eventually he sort of falls over and dies, and does that decaying thing. The bacterial soup helps with the dying. Also with the decaying.

And then another komodo dragon comes along and finds the dead goat, and it's hey, free lunch. And that? That is how I feel about you. I totally spend my days biting goats, because I know that even if I don't eventually get to eat their decaying carcasses, someone that I love will get a meal out of it.

Only they aren't real goats. And nothing really dies. And if you actually eat my metaphorical goats, you're probably going to need to take some multivitamins or something, too, because man cannot live by metaphorical goat alone, and besides, you'd probably get scurvy if you tried. But the basic concept is there. I spend my days biting goats for you.

My love for you is komodo dragon love.

Crunch.

YA? Why not?

I read semi-constantly -- I've never really gotten past that third-grade geek-girl with a book in her hand, another in her desk, and three more in her backpack phase -- and as a consequence, I've developed some rather eclectic, rather specific tastes. I like urban fantasy, I like sociological science fiction, and I like horror with monsters in it. I like non-fiction books about horrible diseases, both modern and historical. I like modern chick-lit of the Meg Cabot school. And I like good YA.

The recent renaissance in young adult fiction has really been a miracle, at least from where I'm sitting, because it's like it went from zero to 'holy cow, look at all this AWESOME' in less than six years. Sure, there's a lot of chaff mixed in with all that wheat, but there's more than enough wheat to make a really healthy, fiber-riffic loaf of bread. I have now beaten this metaphor to within an inch of its life, and will move on.

Because I've been reading so much YA recently, I thought I should do a quick round-up of books I've read which have proven to be awesome. This isn't what I'd call a book review post, per se, since I'm not really taking the time to review things, but with as much as I read, this may be the only way to get the word out about some truly rockin' books. The word needs to be gotten. You should get the word.

First up is the fantastic Evernight [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxies], by Claudia Gray. This book hit shelves officially yesterday, and I've already read the whole thing twice, read some of my favorite scenes three or four times, and planned to loan it and Evernight both to my niece Kristine, because they will rock her world completely. I'm going to say something I don't say very often: Stargazer is totally worth the hardcover shelf space. If you like vampires, supernatural romance, school stories, or just plain good fiction, you should really give it a read. There will be a better review later.

Lipstick Apology [Amazon] by Jennifer Jabaley is a) non-genre, b) really awesome, and c) not technically out yet, being as it's one of those wacky advance reader copy things. How I love you, ARCs. Anyway, Lipstick Apology is sort of like a combination of Gossip Girl and I'll Be There For You (the sequel to Beaches), as written by Meg Cabot. It's smart, it's sassy, it's sentimental without becoming sappy, and it's just all-around really worth reading. I didn't find any of the lessons preachy, and all the characters were actually people, even if they weren't necessarily people we were supposed to like. I figured out the central mystery pretty quickly. I'm also substantially more well-read than most of the book's target audience, and even knowing what was probably going on did nothing to detract from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. I really recommend it.

I'm actually in the middle of So Lyrical [Amazon] by Trish Cook right now, and since I've never read it before, I guess I technically don't know if it's actually going to maintain its early promise and come out awesome on the other side. But frankly, I don't care. This book is like a fantastic mashup of Gilmore Girls and Rock of Love. It's snappy, it's sharp, it's trashy when it needs to be, ironic when it needs to be, and I would totally have hung out with all the main characters when I was in high school. Plus, it's in paperback, so it's not like you're taking that much of a gamble.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxies], on the other hand, is almost like the antidote to all those sappy vampire books that seem to be flooding the shelves in the post-Twilight haze currently covering the young adult section. Beth Fantaskey has managed to create a vampire romance that's touching, interesting, and oddly realistic, with a vampire society that makes an incredible amount of sense. I mean, between her and Claudia Gray, I actually believe this genre has a lot more of a future than people give it credit for. Plus, I really like her hero, as well as her heroine. It's a win all the way around.

Because this is my post, not yours, I'm also choosing to give a quick shout-out to one of my favorite young adult books of all time: The Girl With the Silver Eyes [Amazon] by Willo Davis Roberts. It's out of print, but in today's world, that only means as much as you want it to mean, and this is the sort of book that's just like a warm, fuzzy blanket filled with goodness and warmth. The technology is naturally a bit outdated, but the social aspects of the book, and the outsider aspects, all remain very true.

That's my YA round-up for today. Because I like to share.

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