Talking about Japan, Fantasy/PN YA novels that actually have ISSUES, and giving away A DARKLY BEATING HEART by Lindsay Smith!
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Whenever I find a book set in Japan, I'm instantly intrigued and want to learn more. I lived in Japan for two years and had the most amazing experiences there. Reading books set in Japan, in some small way, return me to that world, that culture, and transport me back there. (They also tend to make me homesick, and renew my wish to return!) I'm also a little harder on them when Japan isn't portrayed accurately, so it makes me nervous to read them, too, but that's a story for another time! Nerves or not, I always want to read something new and make my own decisions about the book. I'm just so desperate to recapture the atmosphere I miss so much, I'll take it however I can!
When I heard about A DARKLY BEATING HEART by Lindsay Smith, I was immediately intrigued. Multiple people had talked about how good her espionage duology SEKRET and SKANDAL were, which had me interested in reading her books and TBRing her. When I found out that her new book would have a Japanese flair, I was even more intrigued! This one automatically went on my TBR, even though books with a time-traveling, paranormal flair aren't really my thing. BECAUSE JAPAN!
A DARKLY BEATING HEART is a mix of the paranormal, time travel, and TWO messed up girls (albeit from different eras) hell-bent on revenge. Reiko is completely messed up and suicidal, so her parents send her to Japan for the summer to spend time with her parents. They hope the time will help her heal and get better, but instead, when Keiko visits Kuramagi, she travels into the life of Miyu...but instead, it drives her even deeper....
Sounds like something right out of an anime or manga, right? Just the sort of twisted tale meant to come to life visually!
It also deals with a lot of issues, which is harder to find in fantasy/paranormal. So many "issues" books are in contemporary fiction. When I find one that ISN'T, I remember it. There are a LOT of teens out there facing various issues, and a lot of them don't read contemporary fiction, so all the Laurie Halse Andersons and Ellen Hopkins of the world can't help them. When you have a book like A DARKLY BEATING HEART or a series like Riders of the Apocalypse by Jackie Morse Kessler. They're books for a new audience that may not see these issues in what they read, and it's comforting for them to go through things with someone else the way contemporary readers do. These books save lives, too.
With manga and anime and cosplaying so prevalent in today's society, an issues book that takes place in Japan and has a paranormal bend straight out of an anime will get a lot of teens interested in reading this one! I can see a lot of teachers and librarians putting this one into a (classroom) library! Other teens will look at the cover and think the book looks cool and want to read it, too. It's a very non-traditional way to slip some serious content into a teen's life while giving them the adventure of a lifetime to fall into.
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