The Bone Season is the first in a projected seven-book fantasy series by 21-year-old Samanatha Shannon. Last week it was announced as the first TODAY book club selection. There is a great deal of buzz around this book, and I believe teens will be asking for it.
Shannon wrote the book while a student at Oxford. I heard her speak on a panel at BookExpo in May, titled “New Adult Crossover: From YA to Adult and back again.” (Shannon wrote about the panel here.) The conclusion seemed to be that The Bone Season is more crossover than NA, though the author set out to write a book for readers her own age (in her words, 19-21). Apparently, there was some debate about whether to publish the series as YA or adult. In the end, Bloomsbury decided on adult, largely because all of its adult editors “wanted it for themselves.” (Though I’m sure there was more to it than that!)
At the panel, Shannon was confident that adults and NAs would enjoy her series. She expressed some doubts about YA interest, due to its political complexities. At the same time, she has worked to build the books so that readers can skim the politics and focus on the characters and story if they prefer. The decision to publish adult freed her to go darker in the creation of her world — there were things she wanted to do originally that she then felt free to include.
Teen writers might enjoy Shannon’s blog, A Book from the Beginning, about the process of writing and publishing her first book. She is a smart, talented young writer who is experiencing an incredible amount of success very quickly. Interesting to read about it from the inside.
Adult/High School-In 1859 at a séance, the border between this world and that of the Rephaim was somehow breached. Two hundred years later, several world cities are governed by the Scion Corporation-not strictly a dystopia, but a controlled situation in which people have their place and anything or anyone different, especially “voyants”-those with psychic abilities-is persecuted. Paige is one of those voyants, a dreamwalker who works for one of London’s top crime syndicates; one day, while going off to meet her Scion-employed father, she kills a man hunting for voyants and seriously injures another. Soon she is captured and lands in Sheol I, a prison city that encompasses Oxford. Slowly she realizes that there’s a special role for her in the upcoming bicentennial of the Rephaim’s arrival in our world, and revolt (or escape) becomes imperative. Luckily for Paige, she has friends in unexpected places. For readers intimidated by picking up the first of a seven-volume series, the ending is relatively satisfying. But for those willing to take the plunge, the series may well be the Next Big Thing, with action, romance and just enough paranormal to fill the void left by the conclusion of the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” series.–Laura Pearle, Miss Porters School, Farmington, CT