Lytherus Book Club: Emmy Laybourne talks genrebusting books in YA!

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We wanted to feature Emmy this month in more than just her amazing book SWEET. She was awesome enough to write up a cool guest post, dissecting genre-bending YA books and what she loves about them. Enjoy genre mash-ups? Read on!

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My favorite YA Genrebusters

I’m so honored that Lytherus is featuring my new book Sweet this month. As you may have already learned, Sweet tells the story of a luxury cruise to promote a new diet sweetener that makes you lose weight. When the sweetener turns out to be highly addictive, things go from comic, to tragic to terrifying – all on a seven day cruise! At the center of the book are two teens who, for different reasons, each decide not to take the sweetener. They also happen to fall in love and, they’re pretty funny about it, so at the center of this dark tale of rising addiction and horror is… a romantic comedy!

Why did I do this? Well, I love a good genre mash up, I really do. As soon as I hand in the first draft of my current work-in-progress to my editors at Macmillan, I’m going to work on a synopsis of Sweet to pitch to movie producers. I think I’m going to really amp up the romantic-comedy/horror paradigm – aiming for a tone in the realm of “Shaun of The Dead” (everyone’s favorite buddy comedy/horror film).

Have I whet your appetite for some mash-ups? Hope so, ‘cause here are four of my very favorite genre-bending novels:

PPZGenre: Regency/Undead  Title: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen’s venerated novel and made it absolutely delicious. It’s filled with lines that match Austen’s wittiness and see her one. Here’s one of my favorites, “Upon entering Meryton… the eyes of the younger ones were immediately wandering up in the street in quest of the officers, and nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or the wail of the undead, could recall them.” Ha! This book has made plenty Regency fans squirm – in delight or disgust or maybe a bit of both. I think it just gets better and better. The moment when Darcy and Elizabeth confess their love for each other is a beloved scene. But when afterwards, they join hands and dismiss a pack of the “sorry stricken” together, it really makes you appreciate the depth of their love in a new way.

cinderGenre: Fairy Tale/Cyborg  Title: Cinder

Cinder is the first book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. Each of the four books has a heroine based on the classic Grimm’s fairy tales – but they live in a fabulously-built future world that’s filled with androids, spaceships, people with unearthly powers and, yes, cyborgs. (Hint: it isn’t her slipper that Cinder leaves behind on the steps of the palace – it’s her whole dang foot.) With each new book in the series, I kept wondering how Meyer was going to keep it fresh and exciting – but she does it beautifully. If you like your fairy tales with a side of axle grease and nanochips, Cinder is for you.

nogginGenre: Coming Of Age/Cryogenic Sci-Fi Title: Noggin’

This is a sensitive and finely-told account of a teenage boy coming back to school after a difficult illness – with his head on a different body than he was born with. Travis Ray Coates’ body was riddled with cancer and so he allowed his head to be removed and cryogenically frozen. Five years later his head is attached to a donor’s body and he is reanimated, only to find that a lot has happened since he was put to sleep. This book is realistic and touching and, in the tradition of many of our best sci-fi novels, also brings up questions about morality and mortality.

beauty queensGenre: Satire/Survival Title: Beauty Queens

Oh, Libba Bray, you make me laugh so hard. This brilliant send up of the beauty industry features a planeful of teen pageant contestants getting stranded on an island that’s home to a secret military operation. Away from civilization the girls go from manicured and beauty-brainwashed to powered-up and fierce in record time. You. Must. Read. If only to familiarize yourself with “Lady ‘Stache Off,” my favorite fictional beauty product ever.

There you go – four genre-bending reads to get your mind spinning. Many thanks to Lytherus for having me over today. I’m so excited that Sweet is being featured here in June! You can find me on twitter and instagram @EmmyLaybourne if you want to tell me what you think about these books – or anything!

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Thanks Emmy! Be sure to let us know your favorite genre-bending books in the comments below, and check out part 1 of our review of SWEET. 

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About Author

Lauren Zurchin is a professional photographer, creator of the 'Beyond Words' author calendar, and a life-long book enthusiast. When not catching up on the latest YA titles, she can be found nerding out to birds and roadtripping across the US.

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