A couple weeks ago, I read Lexa Hillyer’s debut YA novel Proof of Forever, which is billed as this generation’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I found that proclamation not to be true, perhaps because Sisterhood was one of the best YA books I ever read, and I read it as a teenager. Unfortunately, I’m reading Proof of Forever as a cynical adult, so it doesn’t quite meet the standard Sisterhood set. Yes, the same theme (the power of friendship) is there, but Proof of Forever falls victim to the same clichés that abound in many recently published YA novels: the drunken party, the incredibly touching and sentimental loss of virginity (/sarcasm), the token LGBTQ characters, and finally, the death of one of the main characters à la The Fault in Our Stars. Sometimes I really wish I could meet an editor from one of the major publishing houses and ask them why they continue to publish what is essentially the same book over and over. I suppose the answer I’d receive is “because it sells,” but the cynical part of me wants to believe that it’s more than that.
Because I am suffering from a lack of A Song of Ice and Fire in my life (the books, not the TV series), I picked up a different fantasy series, which was published around the same time. Lord of the Isles is the first book in David Drake’s Isles series, and so far, it’s proving to be decent. It sure ain’t Ice and Fire, but it has its own merits. The four main characters are going on an epic quest to reach their destinies, which is perhaps the greatest and most prevalent fantasy cliché, but it’s a cliché that I love, so it’s enjoyable. The author is doing a good job of making me worry about whether the characters will reach their destination in one piece, and I’m hoping that the villains’ use of powerful magic won’t kill any of my favorite characters. I’m only about halfway through the book, so I’m not sure whether I’ll read the rest of the series, but it seems promising so far.