Young Adult Fiction
by Jenna Rose Robbins
Plot: The book is well plotted and moves along at a good pace. This makes for an engaging and entertaining read.
Prose: There is a relaxed, friendly tone to the prose, as if the author has always known the reader. This pulls the reader into the author's journey.
Originality: This memoir is original. The author's story seems fresh and will stick with the reader.
Character Development: The author does an excellent job of turning herself and Marta, her pen pal from Spain, into a well developed characters. The two are funny and believable.
by Sarah MacTavish
Plot: While an intriguing, fresh look at an important period of American history, the book takes a long time to coalesce. However, the depth of research is evident and the story speaks to the heart.
Prose: The prose is crisp and clean. The book features a fine balance of description and dialogue. Each phrase seems chosen with care for maximum impact.
Originality: The wholly original plot and examination of slavery and the abolitionists in the United States is absolutely fascinating. Of particular delight is the frank look at the plight of Irish immigrants and the moral questions that arise when one is faced with a choice between family and faith.
Character Development: Each of the characters is well developed with a clear voice. The character voices will likely speak quite well to any audience -- from young adult to adult.
by Jeff Minerd
Plot: This novel's plot is solidly constructed, interesting, and engaging from the very beginning. The story will definitely keep readers turning the pages.
Prose: The steampunk style is well done and fits with the story. However, the use of Tak's name is oddly excessive -- in a lot of cases the pronoun could be used without losing clarity.
Originality: What makes this novel original is the fabulous world building. The descriptions of this steampunk world is flawless and engaging.
Character Development: Tak's character is very well developed. He all but jumps off the page, grabbing the reader early in the book and never letting go
by Stacia Leigh
Plot: There are a lot of moving parts to this love story between Will and Miki, each of which has the potential to be fascinating. But perhaps because there are so many moving parts, none of them are explored in much depth, which will disappoint readers.
Prose: The descriptions are on point and beautiful at times. Also, the author has found some effective voices for her characters. However, there is some clunky dialogue, and the perspective shifts between Will and Miki at times work to pull readers out of the story.
Originality: At its essence, this book tells a familiar story: two kids finding their places in the world and falling in love. However, Leigh mixes that straightforward YA structure with motorcycle gangs and a fair amount of gender role reversal with the protagonists. And this works to create a book that is anything but standard fare.
Character Development: Will and Miki both have strong voices and clear motivations for their actions. As with all good YA protagonists, readers will root for them to stop being such drama queens. And readers will root for them to finally figure out their issues with one another.
by Anma Natsu
Plot: Solid plotting and pacing. Natsu upturns notions about romantic love triangles.
Prose: Natsu offers consistent and solid narration with prose that works primarily in service of the storyline, and which includes explicit sex that may not be suitable for YA readers.
Originality: Natsu puts a novel spin on the love triangle narrative, creating a loving, equally affirming relationship shared between three individuals and in an international setting.
Characterization: Natsu's characters are defined by their individual circumstances, namely the traumas that Miho, who has scars from an accident, and Shinji, who is being abused by his parents, bring to the story. The sexual and romantic relationship of the three represents the apex of their individual development, allowing them to be fully themselves while being equal players in their unique relationship.
Blurb: Natsu's second novel in the Hakodate Hearts series offers a sincere portrayal of a complicated young love that perseveres despite defying the conventions of Japanese society and family expectations.
by Sandra Woffington
Plot: Woffington's novel is sluggishly paced. The plot, while intriguing, is muddled and confusing for large portions of the book.
Prose: The prose is choppy and often distracts readers from the story. The dialogue at times strains credibility.
Originality: The characters and story will be familiar to fans of the genre -- but not in an unpleasant way. However, Woffington doesn't do enough to make her book feel fresh or memorable.
Character Development: Readers will have trouble engaging with Benny from the beginning of the novel, and at times his actions and motivations seem contradictory. The other characters come across as static, and appear to exist only to move the plot forward.
by Enoch K. Enns
Plot: Readers are dropped into the novel in what feels like the middle of the story -- and this prevents them from investing in the characters, their world, and the book. The plot movies from one place to the next and introduces a string of characters, but there is little sense of the what is at stake. And this also prevents reader engagement.
Prose: Significant portions of the dialogue and narrative are stilted, too flowery, and overly wordy. Many descriptions, phrases, and passages are confusing, and certain terms and phrases are repeated too often.
Originality: The world created for the novel is unique, and it would be very interesting with more development. However, the story currently bounces too quickly from one location to the next without properly developing each locale.
Character Development: As with the plot, we are given little background information about the characters -- the sort of information that would make them fully developed and cause readers to become invested in them and their journey. Additionally, the characters do not grow or change significantly over the course of the book.