As an addendum to the piece, I was asked to give the paper a list of my top five “sophisticated YA novels.” (One would hope this implies the interviewer thought Dust City was similarly sophisticated, but who knows? Perhaps he was just taunting me.) For those who missed it, here’re my picks, in no particular order:
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff – The British Isles are invaded by a nameless foreign power, cutting off electricity and communication to the countryside and setting the stage for a delicate but doomed first love.
Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson – A young girl with an irresponsible mother wishes for a new life, more like the ones she reads about in storybooks. When her wish is inexplicably granted—though only for brief, tantalizing stretches of time—the girl longs to unlock the mystery of how it’s happening, and why.
Looking For Alaska by John Green – A young man is thankful for the freedom of boarding school when he falls for a capricious, unattainable beauty. His romantic aspirations reveal adolescence in all it’s glory—complete with swearing, underaged drinking, and fumbling sex.
Feed by M.T. Anderson – In a not so distant future, when the internet is beamed direct into people’s brains, a young man begins a strained relationship with a girl lacking in the latest technology. Meanwhile, everyone is so distracted by the whiz-bang slogans reeling through their minds, no one notices the spread of a cruel, disfiguring disease.
Skellig by David Almond – A young boy moves to a dilapidated new home when his father and ailing, pregnant mother are strapped for cash. Though he’s warned not to enter the collapsing shed beside the house, curiosity gets the better of him, and inside he finds a creature who may or may not be an angel.