YA Books That May or May Not Be YA

Daughter of Smoke and Bone/Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Daughter seems like a book geared toward teens. There are, of course, all the elements that would, perhaps, satisfy a teen’s reading needs: attractive boy, wise-cracking best friend and the freedom for Karou to do, (for the most part), whatever she likes. But that is where Taylor’s novels ceases to be even mildly YA. Karou, through the course of Daughter discovers the darkest secrets of her past, the meaning of devotion set forth by her adopted family and by the new, (yes, angelically cute), boy that she has just met.

But what Taylor does with those elements is bend them, bind them in ways that are not strictly meant for young readers. There is transcendence in these books, (Blood and Starlight continues Karou’s journey), that is unmatched, in our opinions, by any other teen-targeted novel we have read. These books examine loss, sacrifice, and the questionable ties that bind family. That sounds quite universal to us.

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