Ontario Teen Bookfest, Finished Hardcovers, and Kirkus

So… the hardcovers came in yesterday…. I may or may not have run around the house squealing….

Since I’ve been handling the Advanced Review Copies a lot recently, it really stood out to me just how nice the hardcover.  The jacket has a nice soft-touch feel, the paper is thick, and the words are high contrast against the cream colored pages.  The psychologist in me  started thinking about how this would affect the reading experience.  There’s some reason to believe that reading a weightier, more authoratively presented book will predispose the reader to think that the story inside is weightier and authoritative.  Anyways, if that’s the case, I’m glad the hardcover is so nice 🙂

This coming Saturday, Midnight Thief will hit the shelves for the first time.  Midnight Thief doesn’t officially launch until July 8th, but I’ll be at the Ontario Teen Bookfest in Ontario California.  The organizer Courtney and my editor Rotem put their heads together and arranged to have finished copies shipped directly to the festival from the bindery. (Thanks ladies, you’re amazing!)

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Speaking of the Ontario Teen Book Fest, there will be a fantastic lineup of authors there, as well as some really interesting panels and talks.  I’ll be in two panels:  One on being a first time author, and the other on murder in YA fiction.  Regarding the second panel, I’ve actually been thinking a lot about that topic.  Assassins play a large role in both Midnight Thief and Poison Dance (especially Poison Dance), and I’ve been pondering the role of violence in YA fiction, how it’s treated, and whether that differs significantly from adult fiction.  So it’ll be really interesting to see what my fellow authors have to say.

And finally, Midnight Thief got another trade review, this one from Kirkus.  I love this review because it touches on one thing I attempted to do with the book, which was to pay homage to my favorite fantasy/ sword and sorcery books as a teen (Tamora Pierce, Song of the Lioness, anyone?), while adding something fresh of my own to the mix.

I love the mention of moral complexity as well.  For that, I credit the old USA TV show La Femme Nikita, which I was OBSESSED with that show in high school. I loved how they played with moral issues and questions about whether the ends justify the means.

Here’s the review:

 

A debut fantasy spins standard tropes into a dark, morally complex adventure.

Fearless former “gutter rat” Kyra gleefully steals from the wealthy, while the upright knight Tristam pledges to defend the city of Forge against the marauding Demon Riders. When the charismatic James persuades Kyra to aid the Assassins Guild in their effort to undermine the corrupt aristocracy, the ensuing plots and counterplots strain loyalties and threaten the entire city. Hoary genre clichés are refreshed by nuanced portrayal: Forge appears a typical medieval-ish fantasy city, but it’s rife with oppression and festering resentments; the Demon Riders’ wildcats, the only magical element, feel convincingly alien. Kyra, at first seeming a tiresome rehash of the “thief with a heart of gold” type, has her naïveté ripped away with a shockingly brutal choice that sends repercussions reverberating throughout the story. James, introduced as a charmingly seductive bad boy, loses his romantic appeal with his cynical manipulations. Even Tristam, the most conventionally virtuous protagonist, finds that base methods in pursuit of laudable ends have tragic consequences. Each character must choose between bad and worse options, and not all make the “right” decision. While both Kyra and Tristam achieve redemption (of a sort) by the end, they pay a cruel price—and neither is altogether certain it was worth the cost.

While this volume comes to a satisfying conclusion, thoughtful readers will keep pondering the future of Forge and its people.