Katie Alender is here to talk about her favorite book growing up which is none other than This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger. Katie’s novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die was one of the best horror books I read in 2009. The book isn’t exactly horror, but it was scary at times. It’s a really great book so I encourage you to check it out! You can also find Katie on Twitter, follow her, she’s a cool person!
First of all, happy birthday to Read This Book! What a great milestone to reach.
One of my favorite books growing up was called “This Place Has No Atmosphere,” by Paula Danziger. It’s about a popular girl named Aurora, living in the year 2057. Just when her life seems to be perfect, her parents decide to move the whole family to an experimental colony on the moon. Aurora has to leave behind everything that defines her-her popular friends, her hunky boyfriend, her wardrobe-and find a way to fit in on the moon. Gradually, she learns that she can enjoy things and people she never would have given a second thought to on Earth.
I don’t consider it a masterpiece, but over the years, it remains among the books I remember most fondly. I loved the setting, I loved getting inside the head of the “popular girl” (which was as far from my own social life as you could get), and I loved watching Aurora figure things out.
But maybe what stands out to me the most is Aurora’s voice. The book is in first-person, and Aurora is funny, authentic, and likeable-even when she’s thinking selfish or negative thoughts.
The main character in my series, “Bad Girls Don’t Die,” is a girl named Alexis. She’s not the popular girl. She doesn’t even really have any friends, for a while. She does and says things that probably would make her hard to get along with in person. But I took the lessons I learned from Aurora and set out to make Alexis likeable and sympathetic to the reader, even while she was blasting her own social standing to bits.
I forget where I heard this quote (I should really look it up): Everyone is the hero of his (or her) own story. Nobody thinks, “Gee, I’m a bad person and I’m going to keep making these dumb choices for no particular reason.” Everyone has reasons for doing what they do-even if you know they aren’t great, you’re still acting out of some conviction that you’re doing the right thing.
Sometimes the right thing is only the right thing for a millisecond, and then it becomes a mistake. Sometimes it’s the right thing for the wrong reason. Sometimes it’s the right thing in our eyes even though every single person around us would say we’re wrong.
It’s the author’s job to let the characters make those choices and to make the reader understand why someone would choose such a thing. Sometimes it’s lashing out because of a past hurt, like Alexis, or sometimes it’s just a lack of realizing what’s truly important, like Aurora. When someone can rob an old lady at a bus stop and the reader can think, “Okay, I don’t like that, but I see why she did it,” then the writer has achieved success.
My copy of “This Place Has No Atmosphere” is worn nearly to pieces. It’s a quick read, the kind of book you can zoom through in a couple of hours. But after those hours are over, Aurora will stay with you. Not because she saves the world or defeats an army of the undead or has the hottest vampire boyfriend on the planet. But because she’s just herself, and she’s funny, and she’s the hero of her own story, no matter how big or small that story is.
By the way, you can win the paperback of Bad Girls Don’t Die here.