Congratulations to Holly Black on her Newbery Honor for Doll Bones. A National Book Festival favorite!

Veronica Roth adorably reacts to revealing a huge spoiler in her talk.

Patrick Ness’ awesome feminist rant in response to a reader question.

Margaret Atwood, in her hilarious deadpan voice, not getting dragged into a feud over Twitter with Jonathan Franzen.

I didn’t think I was going to like author Brad Meltzer but he opened with this bit about his experience at the 2012 festival and his talk just got funnier from there.

National Book Festival!

It was awesome, and once they post the videos online I hope I can gif some of my favorite moments for everyone. But until then, I will leave you with my strongest sentiment from the weekend:

Veronica Roth is ridiculously good looking in real life.

And also a super feminist.

She is awesome.


The very best thing about the Divergent books is that Veronica Roth never lingers on a scene too long or subjects us to a portion of travel story that isn’t completely necessary. As someone who abhors hearing about the journeying parts of a story (we’ve been over this before) she has my eternal gratitude for sparing us these moments. I would argue that this pacing is one of the strongest things these books have going for them- it’s hard to put down because there is no time to rest from the action. Poetry this book is not, but I’ll take action in place of poetry no problem.
I’m sure most everyone has read the books by now because I am late to the party, but if you haven’t, the books center around bad-ass Beatrice (she goes by Tris because duh) as she comes to terms with having multiple values in a world where people are assigned communities based on having one over-arching value. So the theme is like, be yourself, we are complicated, you little YA-ers you. Which is maybe a little patronizing to young readers, but, sure. The first book follows Tris as she realizes everything is not as it seems in her world, and she falls in love with her hot instructor man-boy. Which, fine. It’s a fun read. The second one really dragged for me because NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS. I think it’s clear the publisher wanted as many things that they could sell from Veronica as possible and she does not actually have three books worth of interesting plot twists to write. Capitalism: ruining stories. Literally all you need to know from Insurgent is that there is a lesbian sub-plot THAT I DID NOT SEE COMING that I had to go back and re-read the involved scenes and be like “OOOOOoooooo” (and then discovered the “#marlynn” hashtag because OF COURSE TUMBLR IS AWESOME) and then there is the explanation of how the compounds were set up to begin with, which is a very interesting piece of information that you have now spent 300 pages reading to get to. This book would have been maybe better as a tweet, is what I am saying. 
Still, it’s going to make an awesome movie (because movies and tv do narrative action way better than books can) and I’m excited to read the third book when it comes out. I’m also excited to see what the fans ask Veronica at the Festival!

Author Preview: Veronica Roth

I’m pretty sure Veronica Roth is the first novelist I have ever read in my entire life who is YOUNGER THAN I AM. It is a bit of an existentialist panic attack to be reading someone’s New York Times bestseller that they wrote while you were playing quarters in a bar. Luckily for me Roth has experienced black swan type success so I can write her off as a freak of nature that I don’t have to compare myself to. Back to the bar!
But seriously, Roth wrote her first book, the YA hit Divergent, when she was still a senior at Northwestern. I vaguely remember hearing about her big book deal and advance for a three book dystopian series, which was offered as an argument for why there was a bubble in YA sci-fi publishing. It turned out to not be a very good argument since she has gone on to sell over four million books and have Harper-Collins most popular e-book EVER. 
In her interviews about her protagonist, Beatrice, she is able to very articulately talk about feminism as it relates to physical strength, emotional strength, and independence. She doesn’t seem to mind having to compare Beatrice to Katniss (since the book seems to be heavily influenced by The Hunger Games) which I would get super annoyed at having to keep doing if I were her. And she recognizes why those characters are important in our broader culture, which for me is cool because then I don’t have to worry that she’s going to screw it all up by turning the end of the series into a Disney movie.
In reading some of her older interviews I was really struck by her description of herself as a teen, as someone who was really hard on herself to find the high moral ground and do well- something Beatrice struggles with in the book as she tries to meet her community’s ideals. She talks about eventually realizing that no one can be perfect and that it was turning her into a judgmental person who was always stressed out. So she decided it was more important to love people as best you can in a given situation. I thought that was beautiful.
The Divergent series has a very loyal fanbase and I’m sure they will show up to the National Book Festival in droves to be the first to find out any new information on the third (and final?) book in the series. She had hinted at the L.A. book festival that she is not done with the series so we will see if we can get any more information on that. I am also holding out hope for a world premiere reading from the final book because hey, a girl can dream!
I’m currently reading Insurgent and will try to give  quick recap/review of the first two books in the series when I am done. They are fun to read and I will definitely want to see Veronica talk about them- five star must see rating!
Spotted in DC. National Book Festival Superhero call.

Spotted in DC. National Book Festival Superhero call.

What an awesome still that totally captures how bold Tris is. Can’t wait to hear Veronica’s thoughts on the movie when she speaks at the National Book Festival in September, right before the final book of the series comes out!

What an awesome still that totally captures how bold Tris is. Can’t wait to hear Veronica’s thoughts on the movie when she speaks at the National Book Festival in September, right before the final book of the series comes out!

Books to read. Authors to see. Nerds to meet. This is DC and we pregame the NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL. Recommendations, stories, tips, GET IT.

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Patrick Ness

Adam Johnson