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3 YA books just perfect for adults

These young freedom fighters are worthy of readers of all ages.

By Yvonne Zipp / December 20, 2012

Son, by Lois Lowry, Houghton Mifflin, 393 pages Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander, Simon & Schuster Kids, 223 pages Days of Blood & Starlight, by Laini Taylor, Hachette Book Group, 418 pages

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Before Katniss Everdeen ever picked up her bow, a young boy named Jonas saved a baby in Lois Lowry’s Newbery winner “The Giver.”

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Written in 1993, “The Giver” was the novel that moved dystopias from the adult to young adult shelves. When Lowry pitted a 12-year-old boy against a totalitarian government that wanted to kill off everything “difficult” (from colors to emotions to a baby named Gabriel who wouldn’t sleep through the night), it marked a shift in teen literature.

Then on the heels of this came another literary revolution. Thanks to the overwhelming popularity of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, and Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy, books originally aimed at teens are now drawing readers of all ages.

When Lowry returned to the futuristic city in “The Giver” this year to tell the story of Gabriel’s teenage mother, Claire, she did so in a literary landscape in which hordes of teens are valiantly flinging themselves against corrupt governments of every stripe. Three new YA novels including Lowry’s Son – all of which are likely to be equally popular with adult readers – show young people searching for lost loved ones amid corrupt and crumbling societies.

“Son,” which is written in three parts, is the finale of a quartet that also includes “Gathering Blue” and “Messenger.” The first and strongest section retells the events of “The Giver” from the viewpoint of Claire, who was 12 when she was “assigned” the position of birth mother. She must produce three babies, which will be handed over to families by the Council of Elders. (Lowry is very skillful at avoiding descriptions that are too detailed for her audience, but the horror of Claire’s situation is clear.)

Something goes wrong during the birth, and, for some reason, Claire isn’t put back on the numbing pills everyone over the age of 12 takes daily. Desperate to find her baby, she sneaks visits to the Nurturing Center and then makes a desperate escape to follow her son.

The second section of the novel shifts from the black-and-white, sterile world of the city to a fishing village, complete with color and birds, that takes in Claire after she washes ashore. While it loses the momentum built up in the first section, the second has its own pleasures. But then the third and weakest section sidelines Claire to reunite readers with Jonas, Gabe, and other characters from earlier novels for a metaphysical standoff against personified evil from “The Messenger.”

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