Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Recommended Reading: Devilish and Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

A little while ago, I read two books from Maureen Johnson (Suite Scarlett and Devilish) because I'd heard they were good but also because one is urban fantasy and one is straight up contemporary, and since I have similar aspirations I wanted to see what that looked like in a published Young Adult author.

I was super impressed with both books, and if you've read Suite Scarlett it's pretty easy to see how Johnson could write in either genre. She makes perfectly earthbound events and places seem somehow otherworldly, but still highly relatable.

I'm also impressed by how different the voice is from Scarlett of Suite Scarlett to Jane of Devilish. A lot of the writers I've read--for better or for worse--seem to find a main character voice and largely stick with it throughout their body of work. To my mind, these are completely different characters and I think that's awesome.

In short, whether you're primarily a contemporary or a fantasy fan, I think you'd like both of these books.

From Maureen Johnson's website:

Suite Scarlett

Scarlett Martin is the third of the four Martins. Scarlett is fifteen, blonde, and broke. Her friends are gone for the summer. And she’s got this one curl that exists just to stab her in the eye and blind her. Welcome to her life.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, serious mishandling of unicycles, and theatrical deception. And every element and person in Scarlett’s life will converge in one night that will make or break them all . . .
The show, as they say, must always go on.


It’s Jane versus the demons, and nothing is what it seems. There will be perfume bottles, dogs, explosions, dancing, death, badly misused textbooks, ex-boyfriends, very long falls, unusual weaponry, and lots of sugary snacks before it’s all over.
Hey, you do what you have to do. Everyone knows high school is hell.
I read these a few weeks ago, but I remember specifically thinking that there wasn't anything triggering so if there is it can't be too out there. Scarlett is slightly self-conscious about being generally larger than her older sister, but that isn't played up in an unrealistic way, nor are we led to believe that that actually makes Scarlett deficient in some way.

Recommended Reading is a recurring feature on this blog. I'm doing this in an effort to build a list of YA books that I believe are both great stories and treat people's bodies in a sensitive and respectful manner. I will do my best to point out things about books I suggest that might be triggering even if I feel the book as a whole is worthwhile. If you have suggestions for future recommended books or comments/criticisms of books I write about please feel free to leave them in comments.


  1. saw your synopsis on the contest page. looks like a good book! good luck!

  2. Thank you! I like yours a lot too. Good luck!

    Also, Perilous looks highly intriguing. I'll have to check it out.