Monday, December 3, 2012

YA Book Pick: STRUCK

On the second Monday of every month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's Book Pick is STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

First Line: "I don’t sleep much."

The first line is nice enough, but it’s really only setting us up for a few quick sentences down the road that end in “…it’s one of my more tolerable lightening strike aftereffects.” If we count all of that as a first line, we’re set up for a pretty darned intriguing premise. Casual, off-handed, confessional, and original.

Highlights: Having lived most of my life in Southern California, I loved the way she depicted the iconic city of Los Angeles in ruins. The book also had one of my favorite characterization lines in recent reading history: “her lips were painted a shade of red that made me think of stop signs.” 

I was also interested in the religious component of the work. The cover and blurbs emphasize the lightening part, but the lightening addiction turned out to be secondary as it served primarily as a characterizing piece (I confess that I did crave more of it). The core of the work centered more around a dominant religion gaining traction and its false Prophet. Having lived in Utah for a while, some of it reminded me of op eds in Salt Lake City papers and blogs; pieces even used some of the same colloquial phrases I’d heard there.

The book read very quickly. 

Notes for Writers:

Bosworth employed a count down to the final storm and ever few chapters let us know that it was x number of days before the storm which assisted in creating anticipation and helped the pacing. She also used shorter chapters and paragraphs to keep things moving along quite rapidly, and she made great use of action verbs. All of these techniques made this book read more quickly for me than any in a while.

While a very fun read,  I also selected this book because I saw Bosworth speak at SCBWI Los Angeles about gaining publicity – even as an introvert. She stated that she believed that being sincere, kind, and oneself is the best way to market (I’m inclined to agree!). I will note that she was all of the above there, and she continued to be the same at YA in the Sun, an event I attended last month in San Diego. Her dedication to kindly and persistently promoting her book got me to buy it. In her SCBWI presentation, she also said that she has learned that the personal touches have great power and said that a quick video of her opening the hardcover of Struck has gotten as much positive response as her amazing expensive and cinematic trailer did, reminding authors that being human and real is great marketing.

at YA Under the Sun -- so many stars!
Mat Raney (Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves) , Jennifer Bosworth (Struck), and Marie Lu (Legend)

A Good Read For: Anyone interested in fast-paced dystopian and/or religious culture clash themes.

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