As a die-hard mystery fan, I knew about Soho Press, but I have to confess, their teen imprint, Soho Teen, had flown a little under my radar. Luckily for me, when I was packing up galleys to take home for the anticipated rainy weekend, I grabbed The Girl with the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller. I had no idea about the book when I started reading, choosing not to read the blurb on the back of the book, but just diving in. I actually enjoy reading like this with no preconceived notion of what to expect. I started reading and was immediately hooked.
It’s fun to get excited about a young adult novel with a fresh voice. As I was reading this gripping mystery with overlays of romance, ghosts and family secrets, I kept thinking about all the adult women who would love this. A good crossover book is always something our dedicated adult readers are looking for in the teen section. Here’s how I know this is a good book: I’m going to have to remind myself not to handsell it until comes out in November.
What’s so fun about this book for me is it’s a realistic YA novel that’s pure mystery, with a very compelling narrator. The snarky teen voice so often found in young adult novels lately shifts ever so slightly here to feel more unique; yes, there’s still some snark to Theo, but it suits her. I don’t normally go on and on about galleys. But this book kept me riveted, and guessing, until the very end.
This also brings up the shift in popularity of YA books from dystopian to realistic fiction. Possibly because of John Green’s immense presence at the moment, kids (and adult readers) seem to want more real-life and less futuristic reading. I’ve spent much of my time this past week recommending realistic YA to kids going away to summer camp. These trends all cycle back and forth. But I feel like kids have grown tired of the end of the world scenarios and are looking for stories that reflect more of their lives. There don’t seem to be that many great mysteries out there for the young adults, and it’s a great genre for teens. I remember as a kid, I would read Stephen King and Agatha Christie to get my dose of mystery and suspense.
So, dear readers, what great, current young adult mysteries can I recommend until I can start selling this one?