Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yay for YA: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Do you read books that people swear you'll like?  Do you like the suggested books?  Or do you feel like the person had no clue what you actually like?

Dana at Snowbound Books has been recommending the following book to me for several years now, practically since it was published.  And Dana is a pretty good judge of what people could like to read; it's her job as a store owner, and she and I used to work together, so she does know my tastes.  I finally purchased it for the public library, and read it before cataloging it.  Did it live up to her hype?

Checkouts: New to the public library
Typical reader: Fans of teen urban fantasy, teens looking for something edgy, fans of ALA award winners and finalists
Source: Snowbound Books

Synopsis: Sam LaCroix, a college dropout working at a burger joint, is surprised to learn that he is a necromancer.  And that he has enemies because of this.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars (3.5, rounded down)

Let's talk about what young adult literature is.  I took a class on it, back in my master's program.  And from that, I can tell you: everyone has a different definition of it.  It depends on the definition of "young adult."  Are young adults just teens?  Should college students be included?  Can it extend all the way through the 20s, especially considering how many 20-somethings are still in school, still living at home, still unemployed or minimally employed?  Can we judge it based on what the American Library Association awards in the young adult categories?

If we work with a strict definition of "young adult literature is for teens, under 18," I wouldn't call it YA lit.  The protagonist is a college dropout.  There are also elements to the book that would make me hesitate to hand it to immature high school students.  If they pick it up on their own, fine, it's their business and their parents' or guardians'.  I'm not one to censor.  But would I put this in a school library?  No.  Would I shelve it in a teen section?  *squirm*  Eh ...

On the other hand, ALA committees liked it and called it YA.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was a finalist for the 2011 William C. Morris Debut Award, which is for a new author's first book in the YA realm.  It was also on the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Best Fiction for Young Adults top ten list for 2011.

I also don't think it would appeal to typical adult readers.  If your library has a "new adult" section, perhaps this book should be there.  It's probably the best place possible.  If not, YA works.

What did I actually think of the book?  I suppose you are here for the review.

I greatly enjoyed the character development.  Learning about Sam's background, which had many secrets and tantalizing revelations, captivated my interests.  Characters are well-rounded, intriguing, and quirky.  And the back of the book is amusingly vague, almost misleading, about his "undead friend" and "hot werewolf girl."  Surprises can be fun, particularly in this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed finding out all of what James was.

The plot ... it was an interesting twist on coming-of-age and finding one's place in life, certainly.  But if you read a lot of this sort of genre, it blends in and is unremarkable.  It suffers from a problem that gamers familiar with the Old World of Darkness settings would understand: The trope that everyone is actually supernatural, and the last human just became a hunter.  Yawn.  A bit of normalcy would have been exciting, if you get where I'm coming from.

That said, I did enjoy it overall.  I could find myself reading the sequel, because there is a curious thread left hanging.

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