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Monday, March 19, 2018

What I’m Reading: The Crossing [Review With a Bonus RA Pro-tip]

Today I have a quick review of a book that will be easy to hand sell to a wide range of readers, but it doesn’t come out until May. Not to fear, I have a way to make this wait work for you. You can place this book on order now, talk it up to readers, and then place holds while handing them Mott’s previous novel, The Returned to read while they wait. This gets you the circulation of a winning backlist title both you and your patrons have probably forgotten about AND gets them excited about something new.

Which leads to my bonus RA Pro-tip for today: don’t forget how much patrons love knowing about a new title before it comes out AND having a hold placed for them so that when it does come out, it simply appears for them. Patrons LOVE this, but only as long as they have things to read while they wait. This is our bread and butter-- giving them great backlist suggestions to keep them happily reading while we also scope out brand new ones for them. Keeping them on a steady diet of books they are enjoying while “surprising”them with new reads, this is how we build a base of library advocates.

They best thing is that success here is guaranteed. Why? Because we will never run out of backlist titles, one that are sitting in the stacks and are great reads if just someone told a patron to try them. On top of that, new titles come out every week. Both sides of the equation are taken care of. Everyone is a winner.

So let’s get started today with THE CROSSING by Jason Mott

The Crossing.

Mott, Jason (author).
May 2018. 336p. Park Row, hardcover, $26.99  (9780778330738)
First published March 15, 2018 (Booklist).

Mott follows up on the success of The Returned with a thoughtful and quiet tale of a slowly approaching apocalypse. Virginia and Tommy, 17 year old twins, orphans since age five, live in an alternate present to our own where “The Disease” has been raging for ten years, killing the old by stopping them from ever waking up, spreading into younger victims with each passing year, while the young are being sacrificed to the world war which has broken out in the ensuing chaos. Soon most of humanity will be dead, but there is one last hope- sending survivors on a probe to Europa, a distant moon. Tommy and Virginia use the launch and Tommy’s draft letter, as an excuse to run away and head out for Cape Canaveral. Told mostly through Virginia’s point of view, with some beautiful interspersed vignettes from “Elsewhere,” short pieces of others living and dying in this world, we quickly learn that Virginia is special, born with an ability to remember every single thing she has ever read, heard, or experienced. Her gift is both a blessing and a curse, and in fact, it is this conflict, not the action and adventure of the twin’s journey from Oklahoma to Florida which is the crux of this story. As a result The Crossing is a character centered, dystopian tale with a strong coming of age theme. Mott grabs readers from the beginning with an original set up and then with a slow but steady burn, drags readers into an atmospheric and unsettling world, not too dissimilar from their own. Fans of other contemplative dystopian novels with strong female protagonists such as The Reapers Are the Angels by Bell or The Age of Miracles by Walker will be eager to give this one a try.

YA Statement: Teens will enjoy Tommy and Virginia's coming age story as they navigate the present and explore their shared past. The dystopian setting, interesting frame, and thoughtful contemplation of the power and burden of memory will also draw in younger readers.
Further Appeal: I think the most supersizing thing here is that while the plot sounds like a fairly standard dystopian story, it really isn’t. Virginia’s “gift” is the key here. It adds a level of interest and originality to this story that was surprising. It makes her very complicated too, which I loved. She carries a great burden and that means we cannot walkways predict how she will act.

The coming of age theme, the sf/disease storyline and the sinking feeling that this world is not too different from the one we lie in now are also tropes that will draw readers in.

Three Words That Describe this Book: character centered, dystopian, original frame

Readalikes: Any dystopian tales where the characters are more important than the action will appeal here, especially those written for an adult audience but with a YA crossover appeal. I gave two examples in the review above [links lead to my reviews with even more readalikes], but I would also look to any Alex Award winners with a speculative frame as a great readalike option here.

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