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Out of Our Comfort Zones, episode 2: Ted reads “Beauty” and Sarah reads “Beasts”!

In this ongoing series, Sarah Debraski and I try to broaden our horizons: we each made a list of the types of YA books we didn’t read, and then each chose a book for the other person to read from those categories, to deliberately force ourselves outside of our comfort zones and read something we normally wouldn’t. In our second episode, Sarah picks a fairy-tale retelling for me, while I pick a supernatural-horror graphic novel for her. Read on and check the podcast below for our opinions!

Sarah’s pick for Ted: Beauty by Robin McKinley

Sarah: I knew Ted wasn’t a big fan of magical stories so I checked out the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults lists “Flights of Fantasy” and “Twists on the Tale” to get some title suggestions. I rejected many of them as simply too long to suggest for someone who didn’t love the genre, and then I saw Beauty. This is a favorite of mine and I was thrilled that he agreed to read it.  I love it for the details and the magical beauty of the story, which is very much still a fairy tale, just longer and more detailed.

Ted: I definitely enjoyed Beauty. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why it is I dislike fairy tale retellings. As we talk about in the podcast, maybe it’s just that the classic fairy tale doesn’t take place in a specific place or time, and by setting it in a different context, that “ruins” the experience of the story for me. In any case, McKinley’s book isn’t so much a retelling of Beauty and the Beast so much as it is an expansion of that story; it’s extremely faithful to the original, and just gives some added background and perspective to it. Definitely a thumbs-up, in any case.

Ted’s pick for Sarah: Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson

Ted: This comic just has such a great premise–a group of suburban dogs battle paranormal threats to their owners—-and it’s recommended on YALSA’s 2011 list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens, so how could I not pick it for Sarah? Plus, as I mention in the podcast, there’s another story (unfortunately not in the print collection) that’s a crossover with Hellboy, absolutely one of my favorite comics ever, which is a bonus. And as I’ve since found out, there’ll be more stories in the anthology comic Dark Horse Presents, starting this month! It’s a wonderful horror-action-comedy-ensemble-cast comic that’s unlike anything else on the market right now.

Sarah: This is definitely not something I would have chosen on my own. In a nutshell, I found the story of a band of dogs (plus a cat) who are tossed together and find themselves fighting supernatural forces that are invading their quite town completely engaging. It reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so much. I even felt like one of the dogs was the Xander character. I liked the way there were chapters and that the characters were ordinary folks who discovered braveness within themselves. I will now reveal myself to be a total wimp: this book was pretty scary for me. The fact that it was illustrated with some pretty gory (to me) and horrifying pictures completely intensified that for me. If it was a movie, I would have been watching through my fingers quite a bit.

Now, we hope you will enjoy listening to the full discussion we had about these books and the experience in this podcast.

— Ted Anderson, currently reading I Am J by Cris Beam

— Sarah Debraski, currently reading Attachments by Rainbow Powell

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