What with the popularity of steampunk, there are a WHOLE LOT of books that feature airships. As there are SO MANY, I've tried to focus on stories in which the majority of the action takes place ON AN ACTUAL SHIP.
In Emilie and the Hollow World, which I wrote about over at Kirkus, Emilie stows away on a MAGICAL SUBMARINE and has a very Jules Verne-y adventure. It is an AWESOME book, perfect for readers who're always looking for old fashioned adventure stories. Shipwrecks, sunken cities, action, adventure, different cultures and species, politics and family drama, a plucky heroine (who, by the way, is described as having "brown skin and dark eyes," as are most of the other people from her region), a super blend of fantasy and science fiction elements, a strong emotional core, humor, heartache, and even a smidge of romance.
In Emilie and the Sky World, our heroine—who is now employed by the folks she stowed away with in the last installment—heads into the sky (duh), where she has ANOTHER adventure, this time involving a patchwork planet, a missing expedition, an intelligent plant-based lifeform, and yes, there's another stowaway. Like the first book, it's super-fun in every way, and this one has the added excellence of multiple storylines about trust, friendship, and family dysfunction that play off of and complement each other really nicely.
I LOVE THIS SERIES, AND WANT MORE PEOPLE TO READ IT.
In this book—I still haven't read Curtsies & Conspiracies, so I can't speak for that one—Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is located on a bunch of connected dirigibles. Which adds even more entertainment value to a world and plot that is already bursting with it.
Okay, these were actually published for the adult market, but there were some sexytimes that OCCURRED on an airship in the first book, and one of the main characters in the second one is an airship captain, so I'm including them.
Girl stows away on an airship to avoid an arranged marriage, but it turns out to be a smugglers' ship; adventures and romance ensue. This one is due out next week, and is the first in a SIX-BOOK SERIES.
I know, I KNOW. I'll get to them! (Especially the Oppel series, as the comparisons to Verne and Stevenson are PULLING ME IN. I think I might even have Airborn on my Kindle. But then again, Josh loved Leviathan, so I should probably buy the other two so that we have them in the house...)
Multiverse story about a boy from our world who hooks up with the crew of the airship Everness (and gets romantically involved with the captain, I think?) and proceeds to have lots of adventures. The cover art of the first one, especially, doesn't do much for me, but the book itself sounds SUPER, so I'm bumping this one right up the list.
This is actually the sequel to Innocent Darkness, which appears to be a futuristic-steampunk-faerie-reform-school mashup. After the events of the first book (which, based on the descriptions I've read, sounds ridiculously fun), the heroine joins the crew of an airship. SO ONTO THE LIST IT GOES.
...I wrote about Jennifer Donnelly's Deep Blue, which, well, I hated:
In reading the Prologue to Jennifer Donnelly’s Deep Blue—a description of a group of water witches swimming around, chanting rhyming couplets about six chosen ones with disparate talents who will have to band together to save the world—I got the distinct impression that not only had the book been specifically written with a film adaptation in mind, but that I had already SEEN said movie many, many times before.
It's rare for me to walk away from a book without anything nice to say.
If you've got readers clamoring for the gruesome, then look no further: This book is so gross! SO GROSS! Lots of gore, lots of poop, lots of hideous goings-on at the local slaughterhouse and meat-packing plant. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few young omnivores go vegetarian after reading it.
What would you do if the zombie apocalypse started in your own town? Middle school baseball players Rabi, Miguel, and Joe don't just fight for their lives, they try to follow in the footsteps of their hero Spider Jerusalem—the fact that they were Transmetropolitan fans made me shriek with joy—to reveal the corruption and greed that caused it, as well as the people who are still trying to cover it up.
Holy cow, for a small book, it deals with a LOT of stuff, and it deals with it in depth. The banter between the boys is excellent and funny, as are the dynamics of their friendship: they always have each others' backs, there's complete trust and affection there, and they all know how to play to each others' strengths.
They all have large issues to contend with—Rabi is the main target of a racist bully on their team, Miguel's parents have been deported due to their immigration status and lives in fear of the rest of his family being picked up next, and Joe's father is a mean drunk—but while the issues certainly have a bearing on the storyline and on their worldviews, they're dealt with in a pretty matter-of-fact, non-preachy way. The immigration storyline, especially, was well-handled: Bacigalupi doesn't get into the politics, he just tells a story in which a kid has to deal with a situation that is (and has always been) completely out of his hands, but that has a direct impact on his future. Basically, Bacigalupi focuses on people, rather than on policy. Interwoven into all of it is a dark thread about money equaling power, but it does end on a hopeful note that suggests that information, knowledge, and—this is so awesome—STORY will eventually punch through it all.
It won't be for everyone—like I said, SO GROSS—but I really enjoyed it.
These books are new to me: according to the website, it's a series of stand-alone horror/romance graphic novels. In this first one, high school softball star Dicey Bell and science geek/gamer Jack get paired up for a class project, sparks fly, and then they have to team up to fight a zombie uprising. So it looks like it's the old Opposites Attract And Have To Find A Way To Contend With Their Differences Amid Unrelated Chaos storyline. Of which I am a fan, so I'm going to pick it up soon.
I have a soft spot for Norse mythology, and believe it or not, said affection DOES predate Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston's respective portrayals of Thor and Loki. Maybe it's because our childhood dog was named Loki? Or because of all of the shenanigans in Douglas Adams' Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul?
Wherever and whenever the affection stems from, it's made me happy to see more and more of it trickle into the YA section.
So, here are a few that are on my radar, some that I've read, some that I'd like to read:
These—or at least Loki's Wolves, I haven't read Odin's Ravens yet—are geared more middle-grade, but they're totally crossovers, so I'm including them. Despite being natural enemies, a descendant of Thor teams up with two descendants of Loki to roadtrip around South Dakota, looking for other young descendants of the gods in order to prevent Ragnarok. Understandably, Loki's Wolves gets cited as a Percy Jackson readalike pretty often, though it's worth mentioning that it doesn't have nearly as much humor as the Riordan books. While I found Matt's Must Protect Laurie Because She's A Girl mentality grating, it was in keeping with his personality and upbringing and worldview. (Less explicable was this line—He supposed if a girl that pretty was checking Baldwin out, the guy must be good-looking.—because, come on. Just because someone is straight doesn't mean that he is incapable of gauging whether or not another dude is conventionally attractive.)
There's lots of action, though, the full-page black-and-white illustrations complement the text well, and I loved how Armstrong and Marr incorporated historic spots (Deadwood) and other landmarks (Mount Rushmore). I'll be reading the second one at some point.
If this book hadn't been by Tessa Gratton, I'd have never picked it up due to the atrocious cover art. So here's hoping it gets redesigned at some point. (Oh, look, I got my wish. Still not great, and the model is either at a really weird angle or the image was created by just Photoshopping Matt Bomer's disembodied head onto someone else's shoulders, but it's an improvement over straight-up Skeet Ulrich. I think?-->)
Fans of Gratton's work—if you haven't discovered her yet, you're in fora treat—have probably already read this one. It's another roadtrip story, this one about a berserker and a prophetess searching for Baldur, who's gone missing. While the relationship dynamics and the family secrets are totally compelling, and while Gratton does a great job of integrating familiar myths but keeping the plotting unpredictable, for me, this one was all about the worldbuilding, which was FANTASTIC. I'm really looking forward to the sequel.
And that does it for the ones I've actually read! But there are so many more...
Despite having bought it ages ago, I'd been putting this one off because I'm a little bit afraid of it—I've heard that it's gut-wrenching—but no one told me that the faith system of the characters is based on Norse myths! So that, combined with my love of Catch & Release, means I'm bumping it waaaay up the TBR pile.
This trilogy sounds pretty light-hearted, which is understandably unusual in books dealing with Norse mythology. A girl moves from LA to Minnesota and discovers that she's a 'stork': a woman who pairs unborn souls up with their mothers-to-be. Bonus: In addition to the Norse stuff, there's some Snow Queen action!
I haven't read this one, but it sounds so awesome that I just ordered myself a copy. It's about twin sisters, born conjoined, now separated. One of them who has magical abilities, one of them who doesn't.