literary tour de force
Two YA novelists head to Cebu
Written primarily for and about adolescents, Young Adult literature engages identity, family, relationships, and the trials and triumphs of growing up.
And yet the popularity of YA also increases the number of authors willing to challenge its conventions. Two such writers, Lissa Price and Jennifer E. Smith, will be visiting the SM City Cebu Activity Center for a signing event on Sept. 19 as part of a Philippine tour led by National Book Store.
Price has two books: her debut novel Starters and its sequel Enders, about a dystopian world where young people—Starters—have chips in their brains through which the older Enders can control them. The books follow a Starter named Callie as she deals with a Body Bank where Starters willingly rent out their bodies, romancesby-proxy that leave Starters with no memory of what they’ve done under Ender control, and a mysterious Old Man with a specific interest in invading Callie’s life. The classic dystopian “Big Brother” fear is brought to a very personal level in Callie’s telepathic interactions with the Old Man. Price marries the strengths of YA and science fiction, exploring the struggle for identity and safety in a society that’s constantly trying to own everyone in it.
Setting also plays a large role in Smith’s work, particularly her latest book The
Geography of You and Me. It follows Lucy and Owen, who meet while stuck in an elevator during a citywide New York blackout. They spend the night together, but are separated when the lights come back on; Lucy moves to Scotland with her family while Owen travels west with his father. The rest of the book sees Lucy and Owen struggle to keep in touch from the different places to which their separate paths take them.
Smith writes YA with the character of travel writing, plotting the course of a long-distance relationship through mapping out the places that define it. And while she concludes that home can be a person and that distance is more than miles, the journey to these familiar insights is refreshing and earnestly rendered; you can love in spite of the world, yes, but also because of the world, sometimes.
What makes Price and Smith remarkable is their ability to employ and integrate the conventions of other literary modes in a way that nevertheless remains faithful to the heart of young adult literature: finding oneself and making one’s way in a strange, wondrous world.
DYSTOPIAN YA AUTHOR LISSA PRICE AND ROMANTIC YA NOVELIST JENNIFER SMITH MEET FACES FOR A BOOK SIGNING THIS SEPT. 19 AT SM CITY CEBU ACTIVITY CENTER.