Monday, November 26, 2012

Scott Westerfeld

This week, we'll be reviewing a book by the illustrious Scott Westerfeld. He is a favorite of ours, and we're reviewing a book we've both read many times. (Give us a break; we're in holiday mode.)

From the Westerblog

Currently, he lives in both New York City and Sydney, Australia, but Westerfeld was born in Texas. He is married to Justine Larbalestier, a fellow author and fairly decent.  I've read some stuff by her and enjoyed it. You can find the quick-and-dirty facts on him here.

Westerfeld seems to write mainly in series. His other stand-alone novels (besides Polymorph) are Fine Prey (1998), Evolution's Darling (2000), and So Yesterday (2004) which was the first book of his that I read.

His series to date are:
Succession series (The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds) Which is actually one of his only adult novels and one of my favorites by him.
Midnighters series (The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, and Blue Noon)
Uglies series* (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras)
Peeps series (Peeps and The Last Days)
Leviathan series* (Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath)
*Indicates that there are supplementary books to the series as well

Five of his novels are for adults; the other thirteen are for a YA audience. (Is it clearer now why Cassy and I are such fans?  Because he's awesome.  That's why.)

This may be a matter of opinion, but I'm going to mention it anyway. He has a way of writing that sounds very natural, even if it's completely unusual. To explain by way of example: Uglies and the other books in its series take place in a future dystopia disguised as a utopia (as all the best dystopias - dystopiae? I'm pretty sure it's the first one - are) and the teens talk in a certain way. They use adjectives like "happy-making." As in, "This party is so happy-making! I just can't stop smiling." I don't know about everyone else, but after I read one of those books, I start talking like the characters.  In fact, it's just slightly obnoxious.  You should have seen her after Leviathan. It's not how normal people talk now, but it feels completely natural. I think that takes a great talent, to be able to write dialogue that way.  It is.  I've tried it and it's HARD.

You may notice that on the Westerblog, when you sign up for an account to leave comments, a hyphen and a spare syllable show up at the end of your name. This is a nicknaming convention that sprung from Uglies, and is explained in the supplemental book Bogus to Bubbly but is really as simple as this: if you have an "L" in your name, you add "-wa" and if you don't have an "L" in your name, you add "-la." So we are Alex-wa and Cassy-la. It sounds strange at first, but after a few chapters of reading that, it seems perfectly normal and it rolls right off the tongue. Along those same lines, I found this interesting post about how Westerfeld chose names for the Uglies characters (may contain spoilers so tread carefully!)

I'm also a big fan because I think that he manages old topics in a completely brilliant new way.  As you'll see on Friday when we review Peeps, it isn't just another vampire novel.  It is the most original vampire novel I've ever read in my life, which is saying a lot because I've read a lot.

I also like that he dabbles in both YA and adult novels.  Honestly, Peeps is my favorite, yes, but the Succession Series runs it a close second.  It was a brilliant series that engages you every second and he does things in those novels that you really can't in a YA novel.  It's a talent author that can so easily appeal to both the YA audience and an adult audience.
I could go on and on, and on, but really, the best way to get to know an author who has a well-kept blog is to read his blog.

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