2011 has been a year of fantastic releases so far, both in ones that have come out and ones that I've read in advance, and Kirsten Hubbard's debut Like Mandarin is no exception. I have been crazy in love with this book since I first read it back in November, and most definitely will be rereading it when I get a finished copy. So just in case you were on the fence about this one, in usual Kari style, here is my top ten reasons why you have to go buy this book and love it as much as I do.
10. Cover love. It's okay to make out with it a little, I won't tell anyone. And just think of how pretty that orange spine will look on your shelf!
9. Coming of age to the extreme. Kirsten picked the perfect age for Grace, because while smart, she still has a certain naivety about her that is more or less shot out of the water in the most fantastic of ways.
8. Taffeta. This would be Grace's 6 year old sister, and she is just as awesome and lovable and memorable as Grace and Mandarin. Also, the sibling aspect, while a big gap in ages, is beautifully done.
7. Boys! There's-- wait... Believe it or not, this one doesn't have a hot boy for me to swoon over. Or romance. But you know what? That's honestly one thing that makes it amazing. I didn't even register the lack of romance till a day later, because it's just that good it doesn't need it.
6. There are shenanigans! Actual, true, swim in your undies, maybe break some laws, shenanigans. And not just two teens acting up. Nope. There's more of a purpose to these, and therefore I am classifying them as shenanigans, and if you don't read the book, you won't know what other shenanigans Kirsten has come up with.
5. Setting. This is one of those books where the setting is so well described, and weaved so smoothly into everything else, that it's practically it's own character. So readers, meet Washokey. She's a finicky girl, but worth the time.
4. Jackalopes! No, seriously. Who else could make jackalopes so awesome and have some meaning than Kirsten?
3. Who says 14 year olds aren't intelligent? Meet Grace. Smart, quiet, perceptive, and just all around fantastic and relatable as a protag.
2. Gorgeous, lyrical, magical writing. I'm not even sure those words do full justice to Kirsten's writing. It's just amazing, but looks so effortless.
1. Mandarin is awesome. She is one of the most multifaceted, hidden layers characters I've read about, and even if she isn't the narrator, you will get to know all those sides of her.
So there you have it. Like Mandarin is out tomorrow, so make sure you run out and get it! Whether you like contemp or not, this one just has so many amazing elements. It's a fresh face for contemp, and I honestly think it will do great things for the genre.