12 Days of Snowed (Day 4): Charity Jones, Katniss, Bella, and Strong Protagonists
Although people try to peg RDSP as being a publisher of X or Y or Z, our goal all along has been simply to publish books that other publisher don’t — due to concerns about marketability, not content. In our previous installment of 12 Days of Snowed we touched on the fact that the main character, Charity Jones, has a multi-ethnic background. Furthermore, she is what many in the publishing industry have been hoping to see in 20116 YA novels with the recent acceptance of publishing’s lack of diversity.
However, we did not just publish this book to fulfill some arbitrary need for diversity. RDSP always looks for strong characterization, and compelling stories. It is true, though, that we don’t have much background as publishers of children’s and YA literature, with only two previous titles falling into those categories. In the last post we looked at YA trends, and how Snowed compared to those industry expectations. Now let’s examine the heart of the book: Charity Jones.
The protagonist Maria Alexander has created in Snowed compares favorably with other teen icons of literature, as evidenced by the following bold proclamation from a writer/producer of some of television’s most notable genre shows with female leads.
But comparisons to mainstream successes aside, how are authors and critics receiving Snowed on its own merits?
“Snowed was a whole ’nother nightmare about Christmas by that troublemaker writer, Maria Alexander. Her work always keep me up all night and Snowed was no exception!! I’m already looking in my dusty, cobwebbed Christmas stocking for her next book. C’mon, Maria! Hurry up!”
—Nancy Holder, New York Times bestselling author of The Rules
And for something more in depth:
“If I had not been reading this novel on an expensive electronic device, I’d have thrown it across the room when I got to the ending. But not because it was a bad book. On the contrary, this book was such a fun adventure that the cliffhanger ending made me want to lose my mind. I did, however, accost the author to find out whether a sequel was forthcoming. Good news! One is definitely in the works.
Because of the way schedules work in the publishing world, I read Snowed during the heat of summer. However, Alexander’s words transported me to the holiday season with little effort. I follow the author on social media, so I was spoiled a bit for this novel based on hints she’d provided on research she did for this story. But rather than being any sort of let-down, any predictions that I made and the big reveals in the book were a ton of fun to reach.
One of my favorite things about this book was the nontraditional setting. Most “California” books take place in such locales as hip San Francisco or sunny Los Angeles, familiar from so much of popular culture. Temperate, conservative northern California is a departure from the norm. But what I appreciate the most is that Alexander doesn’t set the novel here just for something different. The setting becomes a character in itself regarding both the winter weather and the mindset of the people around the main character, Charity Jones. Points should also be given for a diverse main character, because once again, there’s no feeling that the author made this decision just to be different. Charity’s entire character has been shaped by this aspect of her being, but it always comes off as realistic rather than an insertion of authorial voice.
As a point of view character, Charity drew me in immediately. One of the things I liked best about her was that she was the hero of her own story but still maintained some flaws that made her a realistic character. She gets a little preachy about things she’s passionate about, but it’s a good example of what makes her a whole person rather than a plastic, predictable YA fantasy heroine.
At times, the text message conversations between characters felt a little contrived or cliché because of the abbreviated language used. However, I may have felt this way due to my limited experience with or exposure to the young adult genre, and with teenagers in general. More importantly, the friendships and other relationships between the teenage characters rang very true, and included depth not often attributed to characters who are not yet adults.
Overall, this was a great fantasy novel that features a villain not often explored in speculative fiction, either adult or YA. The modern ways in which the villain is fought are imaginative and delightfully unexpected.”
—J.L. Gribble, author of Steel Victory and Steel Magic
And, to sum things up:
“The book was beautifully written and the plotline was very interesting to me and is one of the best book i have read in 2016… So go and grab your copies on November 2nd…you wont be disappointed.”
—The Bookworm Society
Charity Jones is a 16-year-old engineering genius who’s much-bullied for being biracial and a skeptic at her conservative school in Oak County, California. Everything changes when Charity’s social worker mother brings home a sweet teen runaway named Aidan to foster for the holidays. Matched in every way, Charity and Aidan quickly fall in love. But it seems he’s not the only new arrival: Charity soon finds the brutally slain corpse of her worst bully and she gets hard, haunting evidence that the killer is stalking Oak County. As she and her Skeptics Club investigate this death and others, they find at every turn the mystery only grows darker and more deadly. One thing’s for certain: there’s a bloody battle coming this holiday season that will change their lives – and human history – forever.
Will they be ready?
Find out this 2016 holiday season how you, Charity, me, everyone…has been Snowed.