Friday, 21 June 2013


This week, we’re delighted to introduce Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies book blog.

Thank you so much for having me here on The Edge! For those of you who don't know me, my name is Michelle, and I blog at Fluttering
Butterflies.  I juggle writing my blog with raising my two beautiful children and studying for a degree in Psychology. I've always been a big reader and I love sharing my thoughts with my blog readers...

Michelle, why do you READ and WRITE about teen/YA books?

I read and write about teen books because they're brilliant. They're intelligent and interesting and emotionally charged and they constantly make me think in different ways. Reading young adult books only began to happen within the last few years but the books that I've read during that time has excited and inspired me in ways that other books hadn't been doing for me in awhile.

As for why I write about them, that began in response to the isolation that I felt after my eldest child was born. I used to work as a manager in a bookstore but gave it up in order to care for my son. I missed the atmosphere of the bookstore in which I was conversing about books all day every day with colleagues, customers, publishing reps and everyone else. I missed being surrounded by books, selling books and talking about books. Though my blog wasn't always centred around what I'd been reading, the transformation into a book blog feels like a natural progression.  I'm very passionate about books and reading and I hope that comes across on my blog. 

What are the most ORIGINAL YA books that you have read?

That is a tough question. I think the books to me that feel the most original are when I read a story that should be simple - about teen pregnancy, say or a love story between two people - and everything ends up very different to what I've expected because of the twists that the author places on the story. I love it when I can think differently about a subject after reading a book.  This has happened over the years with Malorie Blackman's Boys Don't Cry which looked at some of the prejudices facing a teenage father. With Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, which made me think differently about love as she has written about a consensual incest relationship. And most recently, Laura Lam's Pantomime had me falling in love with a beautiful story that included something I've never come across before...

What is a TURN OFF in YA fiction?

I've been reading about a lot of unhealthy relationships in YA books which makes me incredibly sad. I don't want teenage girls to think that these relationships are something that is okay or worth striving for. I particularly don't like when serious topics are included into a storyline for (what feels like to me) entertainment value.  Obviously cheesy dialogue is a turn-off, as are sexist and shaming language towards female characters.

What makes for a great YA book?

I would say that for a book to be great, I would have to connect to it on a really strong emotional level.  It's really personal for me.  That if a book makes me laugh or cry or cringe in embarassment or makes me loathe a character or fall in love then I think it's pretty great. And to do that the characters have to be rounded out and flawed, there have to be some good relationships - not just romantic but also platonic and familial relationships. Good dialogue and an interesting plot. Extra special points for making me fall into a story or characters or setting so fully that it feels as though I'm there too.  It's not much to ask, is it?

Which YA characters would you most like to take OUT TO DINNER and why?

I'd love to have Magnus Bane from Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. I think he'd have the most interesting things to discuss over dinner.  As would Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.  I think the two of them could bring something wonderfully unexpected to the table.

I'd invite Mia Thermopolis from the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot and Ruby Oliver from the Boyfriend list by E Lockhart as I think they're both awesome and I think we'd all really hit it off.

And finally, I think Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan would be the life of any dinner party. 

Who is your ideal YA HERO/HEROINE and why?

I really struggled to answer this question.  I think there are lots of YA heroes and heroines that I admire but I'm going to pick Carly from Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar.  I think that for most people the obvious choices for an 'ideal' character going on a heroes journey is somebody who is already strong and brave and good. But when I stopped to think about this, the journeys that I respond to the most happen when characters like Carly (or Echo from Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry or Daisy from Saving Daisy by Phil Earle) are at their lowest points physically, mentally or emotionally and they are at the stage where they can choose to give up or choose to struggle on.  And these amazing characters manage to find hope and strength within themselves to continue fighting and striving for something better. And that sort of courage appeals to me so much more. 

What is your dream YA ROMANTIC PAIRING and why?

The relationships between Will, Tessa and Jem in The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare was done wonderfully. Especially in the ways in which she challenges most people's beliefs about love triangles. The three of them are beautiful together. That's been my favourite romance to follow lately.

What makes you uncomfortable or question the BOUNDARIES OF YA fiction?

Speaking of romance, I think the thing that makes me the most uncomfortable within YA are insta-love relationships in which the characters feel like this love consumed them, almost outside of their control, and that it will remain forever. That makes me uneasy. Both in that the love between two people is not a choice to be made but something that takes over and also the idea of there never being another choice available. I don't like either of these concepts. I don't think either patricularly questions the boundaries of YA but it sure makes my skin crawl. 

What would you LIKE to see happening in YA over the next five years?

I would love for there to be more standalone stories. Series books make me weary. I'd like to see a bigger variety of characters populating teen stories - LGBT characters, people going through mental illness issues, characters that are non-white or are of mixed race or that have physical disabilities. I think a lot of these minority views need to be more prominent.

From a personal perspective, I really like stories involving sports. And stories that include supportive parents or family members are pretty refreshing. And as I'm a big supporter of books by British authors, I'd like to see UKYA reaching a wider audience.

What do you think will ACTUALLY be the next big thing in YA ficton?

I think the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer spurred many paranormal romances to be published and the success of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins meant a wealth of dystopian fiction. Both were made into film adaptations.  I'm not great at predicting trends or anything but I wonder how the release of big film adaptations this year and next might influence what we see being published in YA over the next few years? Perhaps more urban fantasy along the lines of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare? I'm not really sure!

For me personally, I really hope psychological thrillers are the next big thing. I've really enjoyed the books I've read of late that were a bit heart-pounding and twisty-turny.

Give us your top FIVE TEEN/YA books please, Michelle.

If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

And finally, Michelle, if you read ONE book this year, read THIS...

My favourite book that I've read in 2013 has been Undone by Cat Clarke. Cat Clarke consistently brings us edgy books with wonderfully flawed characters and emotionally charged stories and this book made me questions everyone's motives and wonder what's right and wrong.  It made my heart hurt and my eyes were sore from crying. 

Michelle, thanks so much for submitting to the EDGE INTERROGATION!

If you’d like to read more of Michelle’s reviews, you can find her here:

And you can follow her on twitter @cloverness

If you think the Edge Interrogation is easy - try naming YOUR top 5 Teen/YA books in the comments section...


  1. Very interesting and insightful answers, Michelle, and so much I agree with. I agree that insta-love in YA is concerning and widespread in YA lit. I know publishers like it, but I wonder if or how much it's market driven. I'd love to see more stand alone teen/YA, and definitely more pyschological thrillers... Thanks for agreeing to be interrogated!

  2. By the way, I'm still working on my top 5 teen/YA books...

  3. Thanks, Michelle, for your very thoughtful post. I hope you're right about psychological thrillers! I love reading them and want to write one. I loved that you included GOING BOVINE in your top 5 teen books. I loved that book! It's one of those wonderfully layered books that once I'd finished reading it, I wanted to read it again.

  4. Great post Michelle and much food for thought - I particularly liked your idea of more positive images of characters, such as supportive parents. In my new book ( just getting started) I have decided there will be no bullying and no school bitches - I'm weary of all that. Many thanks for taking things to The Edge for us!