Wednesday, August 15, 2018

K10: AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White

The Kidliterati Ten is an interview series with young readers. We ask them about a favorite book and hope that you enjoy their answers. 

My son Carter is no stranger to this blog, and he probably thought when he turned 18 I'd stop asking him to do stuff like this, but in just a few days he's going to head off to college and so I'm looking for any excuse to make him sit down and talk to me.

Tell us a little about yourself: what is your first name, how old are you, and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

*The stare I got after asking this question was long and unflinching, but I waited it out because I have nothing but time and I've reached that stage of parenting where I consider even exasperated eye-rolling to be 'quality time.'*

Fine. My name is Carter, I’m 18, and I like cookies and cream ice cream.

What book are you obsessing about these days? And why?

The AND I DARKEN series! It's incredibly well thought out, intense, and unapologetically feminist.

Can you describe the series in one word?

Gritty.

What was your favorite part of the series?

I loved how the ending of the last book stayed true to the themes throughout the series. Endings can be really hard, especially with more complex books, but AND I DARKEN managed to follow through. I won’t spoil what it is, but it managed to surprise me and pack a real emotional punch.

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do?

I would have died day one. No doubt about it. I am neither ruthless, nor cunning, nor ambitious enough to have survived half of what the main characters went through. The stress of the SAT almost killed me, I am definitely not cut out for the world of violence, political espionage, and danger that Lada, Radu, and Mehmed live in.

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book?

I would say that if you’re looking for a book with complex, driven, and inherently flawed characters, look no further than AND I DARKEN. Each character is overflowing with conflicting and competing emotions, where even if you hate what they are doing, you can understand the internal toil they are experiencing. There is sacrifice after sacrifice, tough choice after tough choice, and nothing is ever easy unlike some YA fiction. There are no easy outs.

What do you think about the book's cover?

The cover is easily recognizable, and I appreciated how the style stayed consistent through the series. A lot of YA books have covers with good-looking teens striking a dramatic pose in costume or something like that, but AND I DARKEN stayed consistent with a weapon and nature.

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not?

No, I would not. All the loose ends of the AND I DARKEN series were tied up beautifully, so there would be no more to read. The series does not leave you begging for more. Instead, it leaves you satisfied and feeling as if the book has had its natural end. Adding more would simply water down the story.

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one?

No, I don’t think I can. A lot of YA follows a pretty standard path: if you’re smart enough, strong enough, or cunning enough, you can find a better way. AND I DARKEN followed the path of: maybe there is a better way, but I can’t find it, so I will do the best I can and pay the price. Even the heroes are deeply flawed individuals capable of committing atrocities.

If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be?

I'm leaving for college on Friday and I'm super super super stressed. How do you handle things when you're super super super stressed?

Well, I don't know how Kiersten White may answer this question, but I can tell you that when I'm super super super stressed, I like to sit down on the couch with my 18-year-old son and talk to him about books.

You can learn more about AND I DARKEN and the rest of the books in the series here.



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