About this time last year, I began to reread one of my all-time favourite book series, or, more accurately in this case, my favourite book sequence. And if that doesn't give it away, I will: Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence. Don't ask me why it's a "sequence" and not a "series"; I do not know. Nor do I care. The point is, these are some of the best books ever written, and the fact that they are YA books makes that all the more impressive. Okay. So. My point? My point:
I began with the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone, shortly before Winter Solstice so that when the Solstice arrived I could be on Book 2, The Dark is Rising, which takes place over about one week starting on Solstice Eve. And thus began my Year of Reading Youthfully. I was burnt out on "grown-up" books. They were too long, the print too small, too poorly written, too depressing, and basically just too damned tedious. YA, on the other hand, offered solace. They are generally quick reads (I did not reread the Harry Potter series this year.), with relatively large print, heavy but not too heavy subject matter, and always well-written (I chose well.) It helps that I'm in a book club specifically for YA literature. I don't feel I need an excuse to read kids' books, but some adults can be, shall we say, shy about their chosen reading material, and so the book club was an excuse for them to read YA books.
For those of you who haven't read The Dark is Rising Sequence... What is wrong with you!? Okay, okay. Just kidding. ... Sort of. It's a fantastical retelling of Arthurian legend that ranges across the English and Welsh countrysides. From the Holy Grail to Arthur's Seat, three ordinary kids and two quite extraordinary ones must battle the Dark, on the side of the Light, to do nothing less than save the world from eternal evil. ... Yes. These are kids' books, and they are brilliant. I first read them in elementary school, and have reread them several times over the years. They never lose anything in the retelling, and indeed, gain much as I get older and my life experience changes. These books taught me that there is always something worth fighting for, and you have to fight for it when you recognize it, even though, win or lose, that fight will come with a price.
TheLostLand.com - Official Susan Cooper Website that I discovered just this minute. (Hey, gimme a break! The first time I read any of her books, there was no internet, so why would I go looking for this until I wanted to share with you?)
I'll be posting more in the weeks to come about the other YA books I've read over the past year. Check back and see what I think about NZ kids' lit, YA GLBTQ, and old-fashioned modern-written fairy tales!
Got a favourite kids' or YA book you would recommend? Let me know!