Friday, January 6, 2012

New review: SPARKS is "a game-changer"

There are some reviews that have launched people's careers - like Dorothy Parker's review of Harlan Ellison. Or Robert Shelton's review of Bob Dylan. Or the one from 1974 where Jon Landau said "I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen." Shelton's review got Dylan a record deal (with Columbia. At age 20). Landau finally got Columbia to pay attention to Bruce instead of just slipping him out and thinking of dropping him (that anyone COULD get dropped after those stunning first two records sort of makes you take pause). And that Ellison could have been thought of as strictly a pulp fiction guy given the quality of his best 1950s/early 60s work is sobering.

I don't think any YA blog has the same pull as Parker, Shelton or Ellison did in their prime, honestly. There's a middle grade blog or two where a rave can make a real difference in your sales, but YA is a different world. In fact, I've been a fairly harsh critic of all those Memes n Drama blogs that focus more on contests than content. And I'm not alone. Honestly, if I repeated the way I'd heard authors, agents, and editors complete the sentence "there are a few great blogs, but...," the scandal would go on for weeks. Authors are known to kiss up to bloggers incessantly in public - I've played that game myself. But believe me, when we meet for lunch or a drink, the conversation is different.

However, there are a few in particular that I really do recommend. Like The Book Lantern, which is known to ruffle some feathers with its criticism of some of the dominant themes in today's YA (it's drama, but it's for a good cause). And there's John Jacobsen's Dreaming in Books , one of the rare male voices in the YA blogosphere, whose reviews are lengthy and articulate. Like Roger Ebert, even when you don't agree with John, you at least get the idea that he knows what he's talking about, and get a sense of whether you might like/dislike a book more than he did (and, incidentally, if you read Ebert's 1 and 4 star reviews, you can skip every "writing craft" book out there - he may be writing about movies, but he'll tell you all you need to know about writing). These are blogs that expect writers to write good books - not just to stick to the trends.

Reviews on these blogs may still not get Columbia to push you so hard that you end of on the cover of TIME and NEWSWEEK in the same week, but they're gratifying as all get out.

So it's REALLY nice to get a good review from him. A REALLY good one. Like Parker on Ellison, Shelton on Dylan, Landau on Springsteen good.  I got reviews that felt like raves from some of the trades on I Kissed a Zombie, and a couple of my others, but you only get a paragraph or two in those things.  As a writer, you always fantasize about people articulating what they like about your book at great length. I'm not going to lie to you. This is a fine ego trip at a time when I can use one. It's reviews like this that make you feel like you're good at your job and ought to keep doing it, no matter what that pesky student loan officer says.

Some excerpts:

Every once in a while an LGBTQ book comes out for the YA audience that just strikes me as being a game-changer for my expectations of LGBTQ YA.....Back to my usual schpeel - the writing in Sparks is fabulous.  Truly, truly fabulous.  This is the kind of book that will make hipster YA readers (you know who you are, peeps) and commercial readers equally happy.  The book satisfies on a basic level, but as you can tell from above, there's more here than meets the eye.  Adams writes truly hilarious situations - I laughed many, many times while reading this book - and he has a great balance of satire, regular humor, and seriousness.  He doesn't stay too serious, though, and that's what will make readers fall in love with this book....  This book is more than a journey novel - more than a cross-town road trip.....I just can't say enough about Sparks.  This is a book that is so different from the contemporary and LGBTQ YA out there today.  It's not angsty...eople that want diversity done without a heavy hand; without a stereotyped view.  They will all find something in Sparks.  Go out and buy this book.  I can't recommend it enough."  

Full review

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