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Young Adult Novels

The 2-Minute Version of UTOPIA, IOWA by Brian Yansky

Utopia, Iowa by Brian YanskyHere is UTOPIA, IOWA, from the first few pages to the last (with a few parts left out). It should take you about two minutes to read. You can fill in the missing words yourself and/or wait to read the whole story, 300+ pages, which comes out February 10, 2015.

  1. I learned a lesson that day: Real revolution needs more than creamed corn.
  2. But I wondered if skewed priorities were a bad thing—which was probably just further proof I had them.
  3. I was already dealing with detention, the start of senior year, and all kinds of questions about my future. I didn't need a dead girl, too.
  4. "What do you think, Mr. Bell, is true love real?"
  5. "Nathaniel says The Matrix is like Philosophy for Dummies…"
    That sounded like Nathaniel.
  6. "Does the Banshee always mean death?" Whisper Wainwright asked.
  7. Penny was a fortune-teller. She also had a nursery. She was very good with plants and visions of the future. It was a small town; a lot of people needed more than one talent to get by.
  8. She had many gifts/curses but she didn't like to be specific about what they were.
  9. "…something dead—dead and old and very powerful—was controlling her. But here's the really spooky part."
    "That wasn't the spooky part?" I said. "That sounded like the spooky part."

    He had a glass eye that saw much further than his natural one.
  10. Ash softened…"Just don't take your dead girls out on me…"
  11. She told me she needed a friend not another boyfriend. Numerically this was true, but…
  12. Next to Ishi the king looked small and weak. All the same Ishi would be dead before he took one step if the king felt threatened.
  13. "A dream," the detective said…He reminded me of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive (1993…)
  14. The next morning Mom and Dad didn't fight. It was worse. They were polite.
  15. She wasn't fooling me. I knew she was using some kind of reverse psychology. Still it's kind of disconcerting to have your mother advise you to hold up a bank.
  16. The dead wanted to forget they were dead. It was best for everyone if they didn't.
  17. "You must eat your mortal's heart," the king says.
  18. It was not at all The Breakfast Club (1985…)
  19. Love is madness.
  20. "The dead don't bleed," I said, trying to reassure her.
  21. My fourth mistake was not riding away after I called the police.
  22. I liked to think of myself as the loner-outsider type (See Cool Hand Luke and Juno and about a million other movies) but maybe I was just socially challenged.
  23. "I'm so tired of this small town," she said.
  24. Sometimes she could be a very irritating witch.
  25. Gram drank her potion and gave a few drops to Captain Pike.
  26. "A monster's got her," Amanda said.
  27. The bell rang.
  28. Thanks to Silence of the Lambs (1991…)
  29. Ash drove us over to the Cowboy Guru's house…
  30. "It's a place that was and can never be again," he said. "Now you be careful. The young should never want the past more than the future."
  31. "The Princess Bride, I think."
    "That's a great one," I said.
  32. "Hollywood," she said.
  33. "The stuff dreams are made of…" (Maltese Falcon, 1941)
  34. THE END

UTOPIA, IOWA is about a small town where the supernatural meets the natural. There's some murder and mystery and mayhem in this novel. Ghosts and other creatures and humans abound. Some funny moments. Some sad. At heart, it's a story about a boy who wants to write for the movies and his struggle with leaving all he knows (family, friends, hometown) to pursue his dreams.

Discover the book on IndieBound | Amazon | B&N | Books A Million | GoodReads

Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments
by Brian Yansky
Candlewick, 2013

The book trailer for Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments

Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments by Brian Yansky Book Trailer from cosproductions on Vimeo.

Early Reviews

"In this continuation of the story begun in Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences (2010), elements of mythology add spice to the science-fiction adventures of a group of American teens who escaped from slavery under the alien Sanginians...

"The addition of a new alien called the Hunter that's searching for Jesse results in a potent mix of political conflict, double crosses and maximum suspense. The believable resolution is preceded by several shocks that add to its credibility...Fans of the first book are a natural audience for the book, but thanks to the graceful insertion of back story in the form of a recapping prologue, this second act will attract and satisfy new readers."

Kirkus Reviews

Alien InvasionsAlien Invasion and Other Inconveniences
by Brian Yansky
Candlewick, 2010


“Fast-paced, sly, and surprisingly humane, Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences is the most fun I’ve had reading a Young Adult Novel this year.”

—Gabrielle Zevin, author of Elsewhere.

Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences by Brian Yansky combines humor, philosophical depth and a sparkling imagination to create a work that is thoroughly enjoyable.”

—Francisco X. Stork, author of
Marcelo in the Real World.

“Wry, fierce, richly imagined—the total conquest of humanity has never been so entertaining.”

—Bestselling author of Eternal,
Cynthia Leitch Smith.

“A clever premise, a fast pace, and characters I’d like to hang out with if they’d let me. Eminently readable and thought provoking, too. A+

—Ron Koertge, author of Stoner and Spaz.

Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences is a fast, fun, funicular of a joyride. Aliens, telepathy, rebels, romance, and humor—what’s not to like? Climb aboard and hang on tight!”

—National Book Award winner
for Godless, Pete Hautman

Early Reviews

“Alien Invasion is nothing if not action-packed, and yet it is provocative, profound, and wickedly funny as well. Yansky takes on questions philosophical, ecological (the Sanginians abhor machines and won't be cutting down any more rainforests; is the Earth better off?), religious, moral, and social.”

The Horn Book

Blog Buzz

“Even if you don’t think aliens are your thing, I’d recommend giving this one a try. It’s a fantastic story of survival, and has a great message when it comes to how we treat our planet.”

—Christine at The Fiction Enthusiast

“It’s an adventure from the first to the last paragraph and I for one am hoping there is more to come. This is a book that will appeal to most any teenage boy, even those a little reluctant to read, as well as fans of science fiction everywhere. Pick this up now…you never know when you may need your own back-up plan for escape!”

—The1stDaughter at There's a Book

Buy the book on Amazon
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Wonders thumbnailWonders of the World
by Brian Yansky
Flux, 2007

About the Novel

Wonders of the World is about Eric, a seventeen-year-old whose father disappeared when he was twelve, and whose mother remarried a moron and took the moron's side every single minute of every single day. When Eric runs away from home, he ends up living on the street. He has only the memories of his father's stories, which he thinks of as wonders, and friends such as Payback, Birdboy and the girl he loves, Catgirl, to keep him going. When he gets noticed by the ruler of the street named Bluebeard, his struggle to survive gets more precarious. Then he discovers acting through involvement with a small theater group and he feels an excitement he's never felt before. Is it enough to get off the street in the face of the powerful and ruthless Bluebeard? You know the answer. You have to read to find out.

Selected Reviews

“Grim realism about homelessness with a touch of magical realism, told in a meaningfully spare first-person voice… the author deftly and subtly portrays Eric’s slow acknowledgement of the truth about his father.”


“This is a dark, gripping, tale with a sympathetic protagonist….”

—Edge of the Forest

“Yansky is a fine writer who masters a complicated narrative.”



Go to chapter 1 of Wonders of the World.
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Road Trip coverMy Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World
by Brian Yansky
Cricket Books, 2003

About the Novel

My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World is set in 1979.

Simon, our hero, is having problems. He can't get along with his dad, his girlfriend has dumped him, and he's been seeing too much of the police. On top of all this, he's adopted and he can't quite get past the feeling that he doesn't belong anywhere. Not with his adopted parents and not in his small Iowa town. So when he gets suspended from school he steals his dad's car and heads for Texas where he believes his birth parents live.

Along the way he meets an Elvis impersonator (who might not be an impersonator at all), a couple of drifters, and a sexy girl named Charlie. Once he arrives at his destination (Austin, Texas) he meets two people he never really expected to meet and they change everything.

Selected Reviews

“…there's plenty of madcap hilarity but beneath it all are serious underpinnings …Yansky neatly shows the thrill and allure of the ageless answer to teen troubles: roadtrip!”


“Keenly observed and continually surprising, this is one road trip well worth taking.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Simon's disaffection is compellingly and believably expressed, but the understated, very dryly humorous tone of his narration keeps the angst from being overwhelming and recalls Flannery O'Connor in its matter-of-fact observations of a very strange world.”

Bulletin of The Center For Children's Books

Go to chapter 1 of My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World.
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