Crap. I can’t keep my head straight. Not only did I miss yesterday’s New Release Tuesday post, I also completely spazzed over missing A.S. King’s launch of the absolutely brilliant book EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS.
Now, I know Amy. She’s a friend of mine. I’ve known her for years. I’ve known how seriously geniusish (what? It’s an adjective) she is. And truly, she is. From the moment I read her debut novel, THE DUST OF 100 DOGS, I knew she was the Real Deal. She doesn’t write urban fantasy, exactly. And it’s not magical realism. It’s…damn, it’s what it is: fantastical fiction. It’s real life, plus fantastical elements. She’s like Kurt Vonnegut and Christopher Moore all rolled up into one. Her work should be required reading, by everyone. In school. Out of school. If you have a brain, and I know you do, you should read A.S. King’s books.
THE DUST OF 100 DOGS is a pirate story. And a coming-of-age story. And a love story, sort of. It was a spring 2009 Children’s Indie Next List Pick for Teens. (Just wait. Amy collects honors and prizes the way that I collect dragons. I told you: she’s amazing.) Here’s the official blurb:
In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.
Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.
Seriously. A shovel and a ride to Jamaica. LOVE THIS.
And then there’s her even more brilliant book, PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. I read this book last year, and it just blew me away. The book is a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor recipient, for good reason: it’s just that astounding. Here, check it out:
Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.
The synopsis doesn’t begin to touch on how dark, funny, raw, edgy, painful, and real VERA is. You owe it to yourself to pick up this book and read it. In one sitting.
Now — Amy’s new book.
Oh my God, this new book.
I was fortunate enough to read an ARC of EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS earlier this year. (Remember? Friends with Amy for a long time. Has its perks!) And when I first started reading it, I put it down and experienced a moment of pure jealousy. Because I, dear readers, will never, ever be able to write as powerfully, as in-your-face, as unapologetically, as A.S. King. I aspire to her level of genius. She’s so damn brilliant that I just want to worship her and maybe have her babies. Her work resonates.
It’s tough, being jealous of a friend’s work.
But happily, I got over that jealousy and kept reading.
And oh my God, this book.
Lucky Linderman didn’t ask for his life. He didn’t ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn’t ask for a father who never got over it. He didn’t ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn’t ask to be the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
But Lucky has a secret–one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos–the prison his grandfather couldn’t escape–where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It’s dangerous and wild, and it’s a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?
Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King’s smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you and taking a stand against it.
This book is so powerful, so gripping, and so damn good, that I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to read it. I can’t wait to read it again. It’s amazing and gut-wrenching and…wow. Just wow.
In a nutshell, that’s Amy’s work: Wow.
Now, something to know about Amy’s books: she doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. Her stories talk about serious things, like rape (DOGS), alcoholism and abandonment (VERA), and bullying (ANTS). And to say they talk about these topics is like saying Lady Gaga is somewhat aware of her image. These books get into it. They get deep. They burrow down, cutting through the bullshit and really make you explore these things. And they do it in a way that makes you inhale the pages and come back for seconds.
A.S. King, ladies and gentlemen, is the real deal. Go buy her books. Read them. And talk about them. Because my God, these books deserve to be talked about.