Strange Chemistry: Isn’t it exciting?

Something exciting is happening.

I’m going to spend a little time talking about YA fantasy and what it means to me. Honestly, I’m of the opinion that a book is a book is a book: for me, what can separate YA from standard adult is perhaps the age of the leading characters—but not always—or the nature of stories tackled—but not always. I’m new to the field, and when I was considered as the target audience of YA, I was busy reading adult novels. This was probably because there wasn’t much call for YA, and without the information and help to choose suitable books, young readers are left on their own and will inevitably gravitate towards the Big Bookshelves of Adult Books. 

Most days I consider myself a “young adult”. Perhaps not being ID’d for video game magazines “not for under-16s” would help me feel somewhat more my age, but the fact of the matter is; despite having finished university with both my BA(Hons) and MA and being in my twenties, I don’t feel that I ever stopped being a “young adult”. I didn’t upgrade that membership to fully-fledged “adult” (nobody gave me the address). Perhaps that’s why I’m so interested in YA fantasy now. Maybe that’s why whenever a protagonist in any story is younger than twenty my ears prick up like an interested cat.

One of my favourite fantasy series is Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms Quartet. I bought this from the adult section at my local Waterstone’s. To the best of my knowledge, there is no dedicated YA section there. If there is, I have never seen it, and the various titles that have since been revealed to me as YA are sitting proudly right next to adult offerings by Abercrombie and Weeks.

I did not know that Chima’s work, which I fell headlong in love with, was considered YA. To me, it was a fantasy story that offered exciting, identifiable characters set against the backdrop of a world in chaos. That sounds much like any fantasy story, to me.

Perhaps in general the adult population finds identifying with teenagers difficult and that’s why, in general, the age of the protagonists matter. Not for me. I love what I’ve read of YA fantasy so far—which isn’t very much: I’ve Chima, and, for reasons I’ll tackle in my review of it once I finish up, I’ve decided to class Tom Pollock’s The City’s Son as YA, too. I have no idea if it considered YA—I am very ill-educated in the field and am, for now, feeling my way around by way of instinct. And The City’s Son handles like an enchanting YA tale.

Given my lack of knowledge of YA, but my affinity for younger and more identifiable characters and issues, I’m excited to hear that Angry Robot Books have launched Strange Chemistry. A YA imprint, Strange Chemistry promises to offer the best and most imaginative YA fantasy and science fiction—and I for one am excited.

Revealed cover art for Pantomime

The first title that drew me towards the imprint and its launch was Laura Lam’s Pantomime, which I am literally crazy-excited and eager to read. You know when you get that feeling about a book, when you know you’re going to just love it? That. (I’m currently interviewing Laura for Fantasy Faction, so keep an eye out for that in the future!)

When I spent time on the Strange Chemistry website yesterday, I found a handful of books clamouring for my attention, evoking that same instant feeling of “I need this book in my life—now”. I’m excited, and so should you be. Go ahead and check out the website and the range of launch and upcoming titles detailed on the site; don’t they sound brilliant?

Particular interests are Cassandra Rose Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse (with its deliciously ornate cover) and Jonathan L. Howard’s Katya’s World

Strange Chemistry’s launch period is from September to November, and within this time they’re releasing: Blackwood (Gwenda Bond) and Shift (Kim Curran) in September; The Assassin’s Curse and Poltergeeks (Sean Cummings) in October; and finally Katya’s World. Subsequent titles to follow thereafter into the New Year—and beyond!


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