Check out this great new review of Rampant, from the independent bookstore Russo’s Books in Bakersfield, CA:
Like most red-blooded girls, I’ve always like horses, and unicorns are an extension of that. Being a mythology buff, I’d bump into unicorns in my readings a lot. And I have to say, that’s where this book really hooked me.
The unicorns portrayed in the book aren’t the sparkly white horses with perfect spiral horns that are the boiled-down and sweetened unicorns popular today. They are based on the historical record of unicorns from around the world. No two unicorns from any region were alike, and that is reflected in this story. These guys are vicious! And yet, somehow, some of them are still quite adorable (like that little stinker Bonegrinder!)
The pacing is excellent, the excitement level is on the ceiling through most of the book, and the characters are completely developed and become like actual, real-life friends. I love Astrid and her cousin, and her mother drives me nuts! Even more than my own mother does! This novel is completely original and different from anything else I’ve read (and I’m ALWAYS reading) and I can’t wait until she writes more– this NEEDS to be a series!
The bookseller goes on to express concern that it’s more a book for older teens, “[especially] in our conservative town of Bakersfield,” but says (bolding original to the text):
Otherwise, this book is so much fun, so different from anything else out there, and so well done, I’d be pushing it into everybody’s hands as a must-read.
Nice, huh? I know there’s been a lot of talk lately about responding to reviews and how it’s always A Bad Idea, but I think the downside of that is that authors might feel afraid of participating in discussions they meant the book to engender in the first place.
Rampant, being a book about virgins with superpowers tied to their virginity, deals with the issues of sexuality, feminism, the commodification of virginity, and how religion, culture, and tradition intersect with modern society and the pressures on a teenaged girl. It has a strong abstinence message. It also has what I’m glad to see this reviewer call “well-written, tasteful, and accurately realistic” discussions by the characters in the book regarding the topics above. I’m proud that I’ve written a book where the female characters are making informed decisions about their choice to remain abstinent. They do it for different reasons, too: some have religious or cultural beliefs that form the basis of their choice. Others want to keep hunting unicorns, an activity incompatible with being sexually active. Some just aren’t ready, or just aren’t interested. All are valid, and it was important for me to show that. As an abstinent teen myself, I was often surprised and put off by the assumption that “only Christians” or “only prudes” or “only insert-descriptor-here” were saving themselves, and if I didn’t have a darn good reason not to, then I should.
For the record, “I don’t want to,” is one of the best reasons in the world. You don’t have to justify it to anyone. Not your friends, not your boyfriend, not your prom date, not that mean girl who put a “V” in Sharpie marker on the door of your locker that everyone could mysteriously translate and make fun of you for. Being a virgin is not an epithet.
I put a discussion of virginity and abstinence in the book because it was something I talked about when I was a teenager, and it was something I was interested in and would have liked to read more books about. Kind of like how I wanted to read more books about women warriors, and ancient Rome, and myths and legends, and really close friends, and kissing boys, and Renaissance art, and all the other stuff I put into Rampant.
Oh, and just in case the bookseller at Russo’s sees this… good news: it is a series! I’m writing the second one now, and it’ll be out in Fall of 2010. We haven’t figured out the title yet, but we have a bunch of finalists.