My sister Boodle asks for gift book recommendations for her granddaughter:
Could you perhaps help with some new ideas of books of intelligent fantasy?
She is 13 now and reads mostly adult level books now although we have to be a little sensitive about really graphic sex I guess!
I am giving her a used copy of Hamilton’s mythology…are there more mythology works I should introduce to her? And do you think I should start giving her some Ray Bradbury…and which ones would you recommend? Other fantasy sci-fi that is not too gory?
Has she read the Philip Pullman His Dark Materials books? Those are definitely for the ‘young adult’ audience, but Pullman is very smart, and people will find as much there as they look for. His great invention is the daemon, a kind of animal familiar/other self belonging to every human in his world. I suppose 13 might be an awkward age for these books, though, too old for the kid fantasy stuff and too young for the cool references to Gnosticism and medieval history. Worth a try anyway.
Bradbury may seem a bit tame and quaint for a 13-year-old. How about Slaughterhouse-Five? I know a lot of rather different people who would put that on their list. My other favorite sf might be too nerdy/geeky for her taste, or in the case of Kelly Link, too creepy.
If she’s actually interested in mythology, then I would recommend Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, whose characters include, for example, a sinister one-eyed dude named Wednesday. Gaiman is an engaging and humane writer with a sense of humor.
I never read Edith Hamilton, but if her book is not full of gore and sex, I wonder what myths she can possibly have included–the time Dionysos got smashed and ruined Olympus Bridge Night with his careless bidding? The story of Hephaistos and Aphrodite’s divorce litigation, with the famous wrangling over the appraisal of the smithy tools? The Odyssey is a good story, Metamorphoses has the myths and is quite interesting in its way but not so much of a page-turner.
Gentle Reader, please offer your own thoughts!