As part of the YALC stands, lots of Samplers were being given away. I’m going to read all the ones I picked up (a lot, a good job they are only a fifteen or so pages long for the most part!) and do short round ups of what I think of the stories, whether I would pick the book up etc.
The star ratings in this case are an indication of my excitement towards the book, not of its overall content. Obviously, one should not judge a book by fifteen pages alone.
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Out 15th September 2016 from Gollancz
A space opera in the style of Star Wars and Firefly – all rustic and worn down, rather than spacey and new. There was a lot of setting up in the first few pages, which didn’t do much for my understanding of the story direction. It was just getting going when it finished. I imagine it’s quite a long book – the sort that becomes more compulsive the further you get in to it. I’m not a big reader of space opera, and that, more than anything, was why this one didn’t do much for me. I might pick it up if I saw it in the library and fancied trying something different, but I won’t be rushing out to buy this one. 2/5
13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough (Out now from Gollancz)
Described as “Mean Girls for the Instagram Age”, 13 Minutes is the story of a girl who almost dies in a river and wants to know what happened. It’s very much immersed in the Social Media world, with a chapter of text messages and plenty of references to social media platforms in the other chapters. I’ve just finished reading The Death House by Pinborough and loved it, so I was ready to love this as well, and did. I was annoyed to turn the page and find the sampler was over. I’d definitely pick this up from the library, and if I hadn’t already bought a ton of books, I’d probably buy it. 5/5
Paper Princess by Carys Jones (Out October 2016 from Accent YA)
I wasn’t enamoured with this one. It’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the book – I imagine 10 year old me would have loved it. It is, as the cover copy says, very much for the Jacqueline Wilson fan. I loved Jacqueline Wilson when I was younger, but I wouldn’t read her books now. It’s very fresh and modern, with Frozen references – perfect for the 2010s teenager – but covers those age old themes of living with siblings, such as fighting over the telephone. So I wouldn’t pick this up, personally, but I think my eight year old sister would probably love it. 1/5
Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe (Out Now from Scholastic)
Another sampler that didn’t really do it for me. This is an autobiography about a young woman discovering her sexuality and herself through her travels. The sampler is a few chapters from partway through the book, and describes the first meeting between the narrator and her future girlfriend. While I applaud the honesty and bravery of writing about a personal story, and feel that it could be a book that benefits teenagers, I just didn’t get along with the writing style. It was too bitty, rushing over important moments (like the first meeting with girlfriend, which was brushed over with a single sentence) and didn’t have any weight as a result. Not something I’ll be looking out for, though I imagine some will love it! 1/5
The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (Out January 2017 from Scholastic)
This one has me very excited. In the vein of Curious Incident, Wonder and Butter, it’s a story about an unconventional character with a problem. For Matthew, the titular Goldfish Boy, it’s OCD and germ-phobia. The sampler only gives two chapters, and not the first two chapters either, but I was already rooting for Matthew, sympathising with his issues – particularly with his parents who seem not to understand his hardships at all. So, engaging, with exploration of an interesting illness that I’ve never seen highlighted in this way, particularly in a YA book. I think this could be a real winner – I just hope it lives up to the pedigree of the books it is similar to! 5/5