Lit: A Column About Good Books (May)

America Pacifica by Anna North

The survivors of a second ice age have huddled on the island of America Pacifica, one of the planet’s last habitable places. 18-year-old Darcy’s winding search for her missing mother unravels long-buried secrets about the island, which has evolved into a claustrophobic reflection of social stratification. To describe America Pacifica, I’ve often used the comparison of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games meets Waterworld, and I mean that in a nice way. Though the book isn’t being marketed as young adult fiction, I think it fits the bill, and again, I mean that as a compliment. I’m not a YA expert, but the more I read in the genre the more I realize that the “young adult” label is really just a less pretentious way of saying bildungsroman. With a richly told narrative and a brave but relatable heroine, America Pacifica is among a handful of titles that make a strong case that YA should be taken seriously as a genre.

Though the dystopia of author Anna North’s imagination is fully realized on the page, America Pacifica reads like a debut. (It seems worth noting that North is also a contributor writer at Jezebel, for those who visit Gawker sites). One can hardly fault North for borrowing heavily from her influences, but sometimes those influences are just too bland — namely the Big Brother-like dictatorship that acts as the central antagonist of the book, which at best solicits a menacing yawn from the reader. But this is a story that’s character driven. The journey Darcy takes, battling equal parts self-doubt and authoritarian government, is nearly as satisfying as anything Suzanne Collins or Markus Zusak has to offer.

Read If You Like: To read casting news about The Hunger Games movie.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

There’s a chapter in Bossypants when Tina Fey recalls balancing her Saturday Night Live appearances as Sarah Palin, attempting to accommodate Oprah’s schedule, and planning her daughter’s Peter Pan-themed birthday party, which sums up the entire experience of reading Bossypants: it’s chaotic, unfocused, and extremely funny. I laughed more in that section than I have in the last two seasons of 30 Rock combined.

The beginning of the book is a little slow, but you can skip around in Bossypants. It’s divided up into short, digestible chapters with very little overriding structure (it’s like Fey knows you’re going to read it in the bathroom). Those expecting a tell-all with horror stories about terrible SNL hosts will be disappointed. But that’s never been Fey’s M.O. — she is funny without being snarky, self-deprecating but never bitter.

And I can’t say it enough times: this book is very, very funny.

Read If You Like: Things written by Woody Allen. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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