One of my favorite young adult series to recommend to older teens at the library is Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Actually, forget recommending it...it's one of my favorite young adult series! I like it because it's a different sort of fantasy. It doesn't really follow many tropes, even though it uses some common-ish fantasy types: chimera and angels. It starts in Prague (a city I would love to visit, partly because of these books) and then it goes everywhere. There is a solid, healthy friendship that doesn't get abandoned when romance shows up and romance that feels authentic and deliciously sensuous.
Plus the end didn't disappoint me.
Yep, definitely some of my favorite young adult novels.
So you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered there is a companion novel, called Night of Cake & Puppets. In the trilogy, the main character is Karou; her best friend is Zuzana and while Karou is off figuring out some mysterious goings-on, Zuzana is trying to get the attention of her long-held crush, Mik (aka "violin boy"). As they are secondary characters in the trilogy (but really come alive in the third book especially), we don't get to see how Zuzana accomplishes this, but that is what the companion novel is about: Mik and Zuzana's first date.
I loved this book for many reasons. One was being re-invited into the world Taylor created in her series, and the chance to see Karou from an outside perspective. One was how it describes Prague, which I now want to visit even more badly. One is just the story itself, the self-doubt and misunderstandings and thrillingness of new romance. Plus: there are illustrations! I'm not much of a graphic-novel reader, and this isn't a full-blown graphic novel at all. Instead, there are just a smattering of drawn illustrations taken from Zuzana's art sketchbook (but actually drawn by Taylor's husband). Finally, I enjoy Taylor's writing style, which is casually snarky in the best way.
This is a quick read, just a couple of hours (if everyone would leave you alone for a couple of hours, that is). And it fits into The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy pretty seamlessly; you could read it as a prequel or after the last book or anywhere along the story line. It also stands alone just fine if you don't want to read the trilogy. (But who wouldn't want to read it?) I'm glad I accidentally stumbled upon it one day on the sorting cart by the fiction desk.