The Bermudez Triangle

File this one in the “WHY HAVE I NEVER READ THIS BEFORE” category. Maureen Johnson’s The Bermudez Triangle is not a new book. It was published in 2004, when I was a senior in high school. You’ve probably seen it at your local bookstore or library. I’ve seen it around for years, but I think I was always put off by the cutesy-looking hearts on the cover. I’m not a huge fan of romance novels, but while Bermudez does feature a few romances, it’s more about three best friends than anything else.

Oh, and did I mention it features a lesbian romance without being a cliche? With depth and nuance, even? It was swoonworthy, much moreso than the hetero romance was.

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Michael Urie To Read Audiobook of ‘Hero’

I just found out that an audiobook version of Perry Moore’s Hero is FINALLY coming out in May 2011! Hero is an amazing, smart, funny book about a gay teen who becomes a superhero. So who better to narrate the audiobook that Michael Urie, who played gay icon Marc on Ugly Betty?

If you haven’t read Hero yet, check it out now or wait for the audiobook, but make sure you read it! I consider it a must-read for YA fans.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I think about how much depends on a best friend. When you wake up in the morning you swing your legs out of bed and you put your feet on the ground and you stand up. You don’t scoot to the edge of the bed and look down to make sure the floor is there. The floor is always there. Until it isn’t.

I loved this book. At its heart, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about the hardest parts of friendship and love. And about Tiny Cooper, of course, who connects the two Will Graysons and has got to be one of the best YA characters of the past decade. After all, what’s not to love about a giant football player who writes a fabulous musical about himself called “Tiny Dancer”? Tiny is the glue that holds this book together. He is Will Grayson’s best friend and will grayson’s eventual boyfriend, and he is the catalyst for their major character development.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is written in two voices, alternating every chapter between each Will Grayson. John Green’s Will Grayson is Tiny’s best friend, but their friendship has been on the rocks. Will feels like Tiny’s sidekick, and like he is taken for granted. He gives us the quote I opened this entry with, and his character arc has to do with him opening himself up to people. In the very first chapter, Will states that his two rules are: “1. Don’t care too much. 2. Shut up.”

i think the idea of a ‘mental health day’ is something completely invented by people who have no clue what it’s like to have bad mental health. the idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal.

David Levithan’s will grayson (in lowercase because his chapters are all written this way) starts out heartbroken, after finding out that his online boyfriend Isaac is actually a personality made up by his friend Maura. He ends up, in a fateful turn of events, in a relationship with Tiny Cooper. will grayson is kind of bitter and snarky, and his dark humor is a nice contrast to Will Grayson’s more optimistic worldview. In fact, though I was annoyed by reading will grayson’s chapters at first because of his apparent hatred of capital letters, I ended up liking him much better than Other Will Grayson. There’s a real privilege gap between the two: Will Grayson’s parents are together, they seem to have money, they’re concerned with what college program he’ll get into, he’s straight. will grayson is gay, his dad left when he was just a kid, he and his mom don’t have much money, he’s on meds for depression, and he’s gay. Will Grayson comes off as whiny and self-centered sometimes, though he’s never made completely unlikeable. will grayson can be overly pessimistic, but you can see why.

do you think there’s a single minute that goes by when i’m not thinking about how other people see me? even though i have no control whatsoever over that? don’t get me wrong – i love my body. but i’m not so much of an idiot to think that everybody else loves it. what really gets to me – what really bothers me – is that it’s all people see.  ever since i was a not-so-little-kid. ‘hey, tiny, want to play football? hey, tiny, how many burgers did you eat today? hey, tiny, you ever lose your dick down there? hey, tiny, you’re going to join the basketball team whether you like it or not. just don’t try to look at us in the locker room!’ does that sound easy to you, will?

But can we talk about how nice it is to see a main character in a YA book who is gay and struggles with mental health issues? It’s so refreshing, and will grayson is a great contrast to Tiny Cooper, who is closer to your typical flamboyant gay character. Even Tiny himself is written nicely out-of-the-box: yes, he’s openly gay and loves musicals, but he’s also a football player and a best friend and a romantic, and through the two Will Graysons, we get the chance to see different sides of Tiny. Will Grayson sees Tiny as incredibly confident and proud of who he is, and is clearly embarrassed to be around Tiny sometimes. will grayson gets to see the vulnerable side of Tiny, who is bullied for his size and tries to be happy to make everyone around him happy, but feels unappreciated. It’s kind of fabulous how two authors writing the parts of two different characters can come together to give you such a nuanced portrait of one shared character.

While Tiny decides his musical should be about love, not about Tiny Cooper, this book is really about Tiny Cooper in the end. Hold me closer, tiny dancer!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is available now and you should all go buy it. I bought a copy after reading the first chapter at work, because I already loved it.

Zombies Vs. Unicorns

Zombies Vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Something terrible has happened. I was totally Team Unicorn going into this book. I just really wanted to read about some awesome killer unicorns. And there were indeed some awesome killer unicorns. But I found myself completely seduced by Team Zombie! All of my favorite stories from this anthology are zombie stories.

As you have probably gathered, Zombies Vs. Unicorns is a short story anthology in which editors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier pit their respective supernatural creatures against each other. Sadly, these two ladies (who are two of my favorite authors) did not write stories for this collection. However, they did write introductions to each story, which are full of smack talk about each others’ teams and help bind the stories together.

Holly Black leads Team Unicorn, which includes Kathleen Duey, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik, and Diana Peterfreund. Team Unicorn presents us with some traditional unicorns with healing powers, some ironic hearts-and-rainbows unicorns, and lots of killer unicorns goring people with their horns. My favorite unicorn story is Meg Cabot’s “Princess Prettypants”, which takes a kind of traditional coming-of-age story and adds a humorous unicorn who glows and farts flowers, and then helps the protagonist get revenge on the boys who have hurt her and her best friend. I also love Diana Peterfreund’s story, “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn”, which takes place in a world in which unicorns are going extinct, but they are considered nasty, bloodthirsty monsters.

Heading up Team Zombie is Justine Larbalestier, and shambling behind her are authors Libba Bray, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Carrie Ryan, and Scott Westerfeld. Carrie Ryan’s story “Bougainvillea” is my favorite of the entire anthology. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising, since as the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, Ryan is the zombie queen of YA right now. I love how she uses dual timelines to introduce us to the protagonist, Iza, and jump into the action simultaneously. The best part is the way she subverted the romance novels that Iza loves to read into an ending where Iza is a kick-ass girl who rescues herself instead of needing to be rescued by a man. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is a funny, sexy zombie story, which is something I never thought I’d say. And “Prom Night” by Libba Bray is a very clever take on a typical teen trope. In Bray’s story, the adults have all been infected with the zombie virus, so the teenagers have driven all the adults out of town or killed them, and are running the town by themselves. It’s a bittersweet story that takes place on a night when most teens want nothing more than for their parents to go away.

Zombies Vs. Unicorns is available in bookstores now. I received an ARC of Zombies Vs. Unicorns at BEA 2010 (which both of the editors kindly signed for me).