I started reading a YA Historical with Fantasy elements for this week's review. I'm working on Manic Knight in my own writing and it's YA Historical with Science Fiction elements. However, I couldn't get past the second page. The whiny Heroine resents her mother for not letting her do what she wants. This is such a worn-out cliche that I feel insulted on behalf of teenagers everywhere. Sure, some teens do whine and resent their mothers at least some of the time, but not all of them. I see this too often in YA lit.
I moved on to Timothy Zahn's latest release, Star Wars Allegiance. It takes place immediately after the distruction of the first Death Star. I consider it YA Science Fiction because three of the four most interesting characters are teenagers - Luke, Leia, and Mara Jade. Han's a few years older. As always, Timothy Zahn is a genius at telling a big story. I aspire to that skill level.
It is my opinion, however, that Mr. Zahn does best when he's not deliberately writing for or about young people. What I mean to say is his storytelling is more appealing to young people when he's not speaking to or about them.
I tried to read a Timothy Zahn novel which is specifically Young Adult, Dragon and Thief. I found it quite boring, probably because it's obviously just for boys.
Back to Allegiance. With the distruction of the Death Star, the Rebellion has become a force to be reckoned with and is trying to expand. Luke, Leia, and Han are all portrayed believably and consistantly with their established characters. Luke still has a crush on Leia because he doesn't realize she's his sister. Han's jealous of that but, of course, won't admit it to himself.
Mara Jade is where the story falls short. Mr. Zahn created the character for his awesome Thrawn Trilogy, which takes place after Return of the Jedi. In those novels, Mara is fantastic! However, in this one she is 18 years old and doesn't come across as Mara at age 18. Since she's the most interesting bad guy (she eventually turns good in the Thrawn Trilogy) this novel falls apart for me in every scene that doesn't include Luke, Leia, and Han.
I know 18 year olds vary widely on their maturity level. Some are more mature than most 30 year olds I know. Like me, some don't mature until much later. I was 26 before I started feeling grown-up. Nevertheless, Mara doesn't ring true to character. Her only interesting scene was when she discovered Darth Vader was secretly researching a young rebel named Luke Skywalker.
Conclusion: If you're a huge Star Wars fan or love Luke, Leia, and Han, this is worth the money. It's not the best one to recruit new readers into Science Fiction. Hand out Mr. Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy instead. I still consider him the best regular Science Fiction author ever.